Leeds Festival boss's call to tackle 'gender imbalance' in music

Melvin Benn, managing director of organisers Festival Republic
Melvin Benn, managing director of organisers Festival Republic

The chief organiser behind this year's Leeds Festival is backing a new initiative to support female-led bands and female solo artists.

Melvin Benn, managing director of organisers Festival Republic, said he was proud of this year's main stage headliners at Bramham Park from August 25-27 - Muse, Kasabian and Eminem.

Sunday night headliner at Leeds Festival - Eminem on stage the last time he came to Bramham Park.

Sunday night headliner at Leeds Festival - Eminem on stage the last time he came to Bramham Park.

But it was also time to redress what he described as the "quite astonishing" imbalance within the music industry in terms of female participation and representation.

Melvin Benn said: "There is a significant lack of female acts with recording contracts, and indeed airplay. It’s quite astonishing.

“But something needs to be done about gender equality in the music industry. It’s a wider issue that involves us, the live industry, but the solution doesn’t rest only with us.

"I have decided to be proactive in changing and working towards this no longer being an issue in the future, and that’s what this project is about."

Called ReBalance, the new intitiative, which is backed by the PRS Foundation and Leeds Music Trust, is a pioneering three-year programme.

It will provide one week’s studio recording time to a UK-based core female band, female musician or female solo artist each month in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

As well as the studio and engineer, they will be provided with accommodation and which will be covered by Festival Republic.

The latter has been working closely with PRS Foundation and their Women Make Music programme, alongside Old Chapel Studio.

Melvin Benn said: "This is a project that gives a step up from start to finish.

"I am also committing to a performance slot on a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival, for each of the acts who come through the ReBalance programme.”

Other acts on this year's bill at Leeds Festival at the August Banl Holiday weekend include Bastille, Fatboy Slim, Wiley, Circa Waves, At The Drive In, Jimmy Eat World, Two Door Cinema Club, HAIM, Blossoms, You Me At Six, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Bear's Den, Lethal Bizzle, Ray BLK, Marshmello, Mallory Knox, Billy Talent and Everything Everything.

Local northern bands who have also joined the bill including Marmozets, The Sherlocks and Cabbage.

Tickets are on sale now for Leeds Festival with demand reportedly particularly heavy for Sunday when Eminem will headline.