TRNSMT bosses slammed for lack of female headliners

Radiohead on stage at the TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow Green

Only two out of the 13 headliners recently announced for the 2020 TRNSMT Festival are female and organisers have been heavily criticised for the inequality.

Festival director, Geoff Ellis, received a backlash after commenting that it would be “several years” before there will be a 50/50 balance between male and female performers.

He said: “We’ve love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on acts we’re announcing today. It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance. That’s definitely several years ahead for any major festival to achieve because there’s far, far [fewer] female artists. We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.”


The head of international press for Primavera Sound – the first major music festival to achieve a 50/50 gender balance – Marta Pallares, described Ellis’ comment as a “really crappy, lame excuse.”

Scottish singer and songwriter, KT Tunstall, tweeted: “If you are the organiser of something, and you don’t WANT a situation to change, and you put fuck all effort into it, then no shit it’ll take years.”

Rita Ora and Little Simz are the only female artists announced to headline the festival whereas the 11 male artists include Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Ian Brown and Sam Fender.

The festival was subject to similar criticism ahead of its 2019 edition when only three of its 23 acts on the main stage were female.

Other festivals

Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis said that next year’s festival will be “as close to 50/50 as we can.”

She added: “It’s as important to have females on the bill as much as men but the pool – certainly on the headline front – is not as big. So we have to work on that as an industry and nurture all these women coming through.”

In 2018, more than 190 festivals signed a pledge to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022 or earlier.

In 2017, a BBC study revealed that 80% of UK festival headliners were male after it analysed over 600 headline appearances across 14 major festivals.

Molly Hookings
Author: Molly Hookings

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: