Welcome to Gender Trouble, where we break down the diversity of Australia's major festival lineups. Maths is hard, and we're here to help you keep track of who's representing marginalised communities this festival season.
It’s mid-September, and the lineups for summer festival season are coming through thick and fast. This week alone, Laneway and Download have released the first-round announces for their 2019 editions, and last week FOMO festival dropped its lineup for next year. Expanding to Melbourne for the first time, this is FOMO’s largest festival yet. And, surprisingly, the festival’s expansion hasn’t spelled doom for its lineup representation, as can sometimes happen. Instead, FOMO has put together the most wholly representative lineup of the summer festival season thus far.
It’s a good lineup, too; Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd lead the one-stage-only event, with SOPHIE, Mura Masa, Kali Uchis and Lil Pump leading the undercard. Admittedly, FOMO has a much easier time with booking a representative lineup because the lineup is small, and nearly every performer is a solo artist. But that’s no reason to discredit what a huge feat this lineup is; when booking in such a specifically male- and white-dominated scene (FOMO is, specifically, a dance and hip-hop festival) it would be easy to book an all-male lineup. So full credit must be directed to the bookers who put together FOMO, for proving you really can book a national festival that’s representative. But first, let’s look into the mechanics of how this lineup fits together.
Performer-By-Performer Gender Breakdown
There are six women performing at FOMO 2019, and 7 men. I am so deeply ecstatic about how little there is to say here: FOMO created a lineup that basically has gender parity on a person-by-person level which, if you’ve been reading a couple of these columns, you know is the metric I prefer for these breakdowns, because I believe it to be a more accurate metric of representation. FOMO also has non-cisgender representation through the booking of SOPHIE, which is more than can be said for nearly every other festival. Compared to its closest competitor, Listen Out, FOMO is doing far better; where Listen Out had 24.4% female performers and 2.2% non-binary performers, FOMO’s split is 46.2% female vs 53.8% male.
Artist-By-Artist Gender Breakdown
This one’s even easier: on an artist-by-artist level, FOMO’s lineup is split fifty fifty, straight down the middle. That’s a better split than every other festival this year, so that’s cool. Look at the chart below––it’s very pleasing to look at.
Performer-By-Performer Cultural Diversity Breakdown
Here’s something novel: the people of colour on FOMO 2019 outnumber the white artists. As with Listen Out, the festival’s rap focus means that it’s easier for the festival to book PoC artists. Still, this is massive, considering that so much of EDM is white. While FOMO has less people of colour than Listen Out, it’s still miles ahead of, say, Falls, which had 16.8% PoC on its lineup. A caveat to FOMO’s PoC cohort is the fact that only one person of colour on the lineup, Camourflage Rose, is a local artist. Still, though, this is a great start.
Artist-By-Artist Cultural Diversity Breakdown
This metric is 50/50 split too, like FOMO’s artist-by-artist gender breakdown. This is a pretty incredible feat, considering that Listen Out still had white artists outnumbering PoC artists. Again, look at this very pleasing half/half chart:
What Does It All Mean?
Basically, it means this: FOMO 2019, while small, still has the most broadly representative lineup of the summer festival season so far. With women and people of colour aplenty, the BBE-run event has proven that it’s not that hard to book a representative lineup that’s still great. Other festivals, take note.
Shaad D'Souza is Noisey's Australian editor. Follow him on Twitter.