Male v. Female Vocalists: a ratio

It’s not scientific or anything, I’m guessing, I probably listen to male-fronted bands 2-to-1 over the fairer sex. Yeah, call me a racist. But before you do, I’ll have you know, I’m starting the second season of The Good Wife on Hulu, and I’m lovin’ it.


Not sure what it proves other than there’s plenty of women making music, but my top 50 over the last year shows 32 female artists and 18 male.

I’m more concerned with how it’s publicly represented than my private listening. I remember going to Way Out West festival in Sweden and the gender split between performers was fairly equal, could this ever happen at something like Leeds/Reading, where it’s notoriously fairly shocking and sends completely the wrong message to young music fans.

Largely genre-specific.

Pop is probably 50/50 if not more in favour of female vocalists.

If you look at math-rock, or the sort of music on at ArcTanGent festival it’s overwhelmingly male; like, over 90%.

Generally pretty even. Still very male heavy with hip-hop though, which is something I’d like to change in terms of my listening but is also a problem for the genre imo

Listen to too many instrumental artists for this to work properly. Would say it’s a 50/50 split when it comes to favourite artists though.

When I did my record label it was exactly 50/50 (though not by design). Putting on gig wise probably 2/1 male to female ratio

Holy shitting moly my top 50 on is as male dominated as FTSE 100 CEOs…
Only women represented are:

Lamb (singer)
Ash (former guitarist)
Decemberists (multi-instrumentalist and backing singer)
Swans (multi-intstrumentalist and occasional singer)

Nelly Furtado, Natalie Imbruglia, and Bjork just miss the cut, but I’m astounded by the top 50’s lack of diversity.

Did my last year on last

probably a lot of gaps in there too.

I tried a quick totalling - some have both so counted 1 in each column, some have none - and I miscounted somehow and only had 47 rows but couldn’t be arsed to go through it all again so here’s my rough calculation:

Male vocals: 21 acts
Female vocals: 14 acts
No vocals: 17 acts

Surprisingly good for me.

The all-time list isn’t too bad either.

Even my last 365 days only has 6 female artists in the top 50.

Some of my best friends are women though!


Having a look back at the last couple of years when I’ve kept a list of my favourite albums of the year I seem to have a majority of female artists or bands with female vocals. Maybe 60/40 - this includes a fair few artists with no vocals (electronica & modern classical stuff) but so far this year I think I have a majority of male artists. So I don’t think there is a huge amount to this beyond a bit of very generalised preference for female vocalists as a core aspect of my musical tastes.

I do find the lack of female artists at festivals frankly bizarre though.

Why, though?

I don’t think there needs to be some sort of cultural marxism applied to music in order to fill up some sort of equal opportunities quota. Whatever’s good will always draw a crowd, be it male or female.

I’ve just checked my at out of my top 50 artists of all-time, only one of them has a female vocalist, who only sings half the time (My Bloody Valentine).

It doesn’t make me sexist, I just clearly have a preference for listening to male-fronted bands.

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Actually scratch that, Grouper makes an appearance at number 42.

But at a bigger outdoor festival where at all times there’s a choice of who to go and see (let’s say at least 2 stages playing simultaneously), surely not every single stage should be male dominated. Diversity is what large national music festivals should be all about.

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Meritocracy is utter bullshit. There isn’t a single aspect of our world that isn’t coloured by existing prejudice.

Quotas would probably help, but more likely there are a host of factors behind this disparity including industry pushes and who’s picking the bands and how they’re second guessing things.

To suggest that women aren’t getting more festival positions because their act isn’t good enough is moronic.

It doesn’t really mean anything. If you’re trying out loads of new music all the time via stuff like Bandcamp that lets you hear unsigned/unrecognised acts; and if you’ve actively strived to listen to a lot of the type of music you like made by women, then it does imply you have a preference.

But in general, female acts haven’t been as plentiful or as promoted as male ones so in the general scheme of things it’s completely unsurprising you might have a dearth of female-fronted music in your top 50, and in that case it would be the sexism of the industry you are reflecting rather than any personal one.


Well I’m sure if I put together my idea of a festival line up there would be an audience of about 10 but even so I have been struck in the recent past when looking at festivals by the lack of female acts and also by where certain acts were on the bill. I can’t quote examples as I can’t recall but for example i do remember Bjork & PJ Harvey both being lower on the bill at certain events I’ve looked at than I’d expect. But you know - I’m sure festival organisers know their audience and maybe those artists aren’t the draw generally that they are to me. i’d go to a festival if it had a line-up i enjoyed enough - gender mix doesn’t come into it but given a lot of my current favourite artists are female it would be a big gap if there weren’t a decent number of female artists - i think…

I disagree.

By the same logic, should a metal festival like Bloodstock have folk acts on, or ArcTanGent should have EDM/House DJ’s on purely for the sake of diversity?

Because that would be ridiculous.

Well exactly, it wouldn’t happen, but I’m sure someone would be into it. Not all music fans have such narrow tastes. I’m sure there is plenty of crossover with metal and folk, especially the darker stuff. Some minimal techno can surely please fans of shoegaze or math rock.

Anyway aren’t we talking specifically about the lack of female artists?

Wow, took a look at my top 100 ever and it’s really grim for any women let alone vocalists. Here are the only artists with any female representation:

top 20: Tom Williams & the Boat, Warpaint, Arcade Fire,

20-50: PJ Harvey, Tune-Tards

50-100: Cat Power, Pixies, Janelle Monae, She Makes War, Polica, MBV, Best Coast, Sharon van Etten, Purity Ring, The Rusty Blues,

So that’s only 15% of my favourite bands who even had female members, and 13% if its vocals only. Grim.

That’s not the same logic at all. You’re talking about disparate genres, the question should be “should Bloodstock strive to book metal acts with female vocalists as opposed to being totally male dominated?”, to which the answer should be yes.


Well mate, I think the answer is you hate women :wink:

Well moreover, should a metal festival strive to be as varied as it can be and, again, surely the answer is yes? Festivals are an opportunity to try out a load of bands that you wouldn’t normally go and see in a single show.

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