On December 15th, Taylor Swift announced she would be headlining the 2020 50th anniversary Glastonbury music festival, performing on Sunday night. Swift will be the first female headliner since Adele in 2016, joining her on a remarkably short list of female headliners. This is another addition to Swift’s up-and-coming 2020 tour.
The 2020 Lineup
Swift joins Paul McCartney, who will perform Saturday night. The Friday headliner is still unknown. Diana Ross, who is not technically headlining, will be performing before Swift in the Sunday night “Legends” slot.
Unfortunately, female headliners have been scarce at Glastonbury in the last ten years. There is no lack of talented female artists out there, so the lack of representation is a symptom of a deeper issue. The music industry, and festival leadership in particular, is failing to give women the same recognition and notoriety that men have received without question for decades.
In the last decade of the event’s history, there have been only four female headliners, including Swift. Adele headlined in 2016, and Florence and The Machine headlined in 2015, replacing the Foo Fighters. Beyoncé headlined in 2011.
Suzanne Vega was the first woman to headline the show in 1989. She appeared despite receiving death threats in the lead up to the show.
Not Just a U.K. Problem
Coachella, arguably the most widely-known festival in the U.S., seems to have a similar landscape when it comes to female headliners. While there are women in the overall lineups, only three women — Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande — have headlined the festival in the last decade.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019 Coachella has included one female headliner each year, hopefully, an indicator of future inclusivity. The 2020 lineup has not yet been announced.
In the era of #MeToo and annual women’s marches, music festivals can and should do better. There is no good reason for this vast inequality in headliners, other than blatant sexism.
Tickets to Glastonbury have sold out. Advance sale passes to Coachella are also no longer available. Glastonbury will take place on June 24-28th, 2020, and Coachella will take place April 10-12 + 17-19.