We initially launched Finding the Female Headliner at Robomagic last year. The catalyst was seeing large festival line-ups dominated by male artists and bands, with literally no reference to the large pool of female acts that are festival headline material.
The path for female acts to reach these headline slots had been systemically blocked from when small acts began gigging and growing their fan base to when promoters book headline slots. Thus, FTFH was created to offer a space for emerging female acts to showcase themselves at entry level.
We realized that whilst the intentions were well positioned the name itself was slightly in conflict with these. It implied that female headliners needed to be “found” and were not actually in existence. Um HI Beyonce and Adele.
The industry sexism that disallows female musicians of all genres the opportunity to feature in large festival headline slots is the same as that which precludes them from top 10 lists in DJ magazines and equal payment and ensures their music and talent is judged based on their physical appearances. We want to change this.
ROAR was chosen to denote a fierce and powerful space where emerging female acts could play without the unequal conditions so often faced, thus actively breaking the sonic glass ceiling. We also decided to do away with the aspect of the name that so overtly highlighted the female side of this venture, as in an equal world we wouldn’t need a night that catered specifically to women’s musical needs.
We also ensured that we would actively tailor ROAR to be host to any type of genre, as different genres have advanced auditory feminism in different ways but each is equally important for the advancement of marginalized talent. The genre that you play, doesn’t have to determine where you stand on the spectrum of believing in music industry equality. Charli XCX is as riot grrl punk as they come but is deemed a pop musician. This kind of fluidity illustrates that the time is ripe for a turn in heteronormative narratives in the industry.
In order for this to work and have standing as a night geared towards fully addressing the inequality in the music industry, it needed to advance it on all fronts. All business aspects of ROAR are handled by talented women in the music industry of which there is no shortage.
We’ve taken ROAR countrywide too, with dates in Manchester, Bristol and Brighton, the issues facing female acts are universal.
At their core though, ROAR nights are fun spaces where music lovers of any gender can come down and listen to cool emerging bands, just as gigs in your favourite beer soaked dive bar should be.
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