Falls Festival Is Extremely Mad At Triple J For Claiming Their Line-Ups Don’t Have Enough Women

"Like all good friends you have to call them out when you think their rationale is flawed."

falls festival diversity

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Last Thursday, on International Women’s Day, triple j published their third annual ‘By The Numbers’ report looking at the gender breakdown across Australia’s music industry.

The report found “the Australian music industry continues to be dominated by men across almost every level”, and that some of Australia’s biggest music festivals continued to underrepresent women on their line-ups. None of Australia’s big music festivals achieved 50 percent representation of women artists, although Laneway was the closest with 44 percent of acts featuring at least one woman.

Both Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass barely cracked 30 percent, which was actually a lower number in terms of women artists than last year.

Now the organisers of Falls have hit back, issuing a statement taking aim at triple j’s methodology and arguing that it understates gender diversity at the festival.

In a statement titled “Gender diversity on festivals” Secret Sounds, the company behind Falls and Splendour, kicked off by “acknowledging the importance” of the conversation around gender diversity and pointed out that 64 percent of the company’s staff, including 50 percent of the executive team, are women.

The statement then proceeded to pretty directly criticise the triple j ‘By The Numbers’ survey.

“We love triple j and have worked with them for many years but like all good friends you have to call them out when you think their rationale is flawed,” the statement said. “The initial statistics in their story were miscalculated and whilst they have since issued a correction (thanks j’s) we feel it doesn’t go far enough”.

The public statement is pretty extraordinary considering triple j regularly partners with both Falls and Splendour to provide publicity, exclusive line-up announcements, and broadcasts the festivals on air.

The “correction” referred to by Secret Sounds relates to the mislabelling of a small number of acts (The Smith Street Band, Jungle and LCD Soundsystem) as all male when they include at least one female performer. Secret Sounds are also pretty worked up over the fact the triple j survey is only based one the first line-up announce, instead of the total billing.

According to them, triple j has excluded at least a dozen female acts from the Falls lineup including Stella Donnelley, Nina Las Vegas and Jen Cloher.

“Failing to count women in bands because they are not listed on a first line-up announcement poster, or are deemed a touring member or guest vocalist, is in our opinion unacceptable, it’s exclusive rather than inclusive,” the statement went on to say. “We also accept we have more work to do and are far from perfect.

“We want this conversation to continue. We want things to evolve. We also want to say to all of the women who have taken to the stage at Splendour and Falls, in any capacity, WE COUNT YOU!”

The response from the festival organisers shows that the growing campaign for diversity on line-ups is having an impact. Even if there’s a technical argument about the numbers going on, the bigger takeaway is that promoters are clearly concerned about a public backlash if they fail to represent gender diversity.

But, as the ‘By The Numbers’ report showed we’re still a long way away from actually getting equality. And some festivals still think it’s ok to book an entirely male line-up.

Let’s keep up the fight.