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Inclusiveness in the European live music industry

Live music and music festivals bring people together. But, there is still much to do to make the live music industry more inclusive. There is still a big gender gap in the line-ups of festivals, not all festivals are adequate safe-spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community and concerts and festivals are not always safe and accessible for people with disabilities. How can we ensure that live music events become a safe place for these groups as well? And how do we involve these groups more in the music industry?

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), one of the largest showcase festivals in the European Union, also attaches great importance to these themes. New artists from Europe put themselves in the spotlight of people from the music/live sector. Think of programmers of festivals and music venues, but also of labels, publishers, agents and the pop media. The festival is not only a showcase festival for bookers in the industry to find new talent, but also a four-day conference discussing current themes and topics related to the live sector.

The students presented their work at the ESNS conference (photo by Chris Tonelli)
The students presented their work at the ESNS conference (photo by Chris Tonelli)

MA students Juan Carlos Méndez Alvarez and Dan Padure have analyzed the gender ratio of the artists within the programming of the showcase festivals Roskilde (Denmark) and ESNS (Netherlands). Their analysis of the male-female distribution of the line-ups showed that they have been almost balanced for a number of years. However, this is not apparent from the line-ups of the talent program ESNS Exchange. Of the artists booked through the Exchange programme, 80% were male. The research was done in collaboration with ESNS and Guds Agency, an agency that promotes, researches and advises organizations on inclusivity in the music industry.

The follow-up research resulting from Juan Carlos and Dan’s analysis will be carried out by students in the MA course Music Careers, Industries and Lives in the Popular Music, Sound, and Media, a specialization of the MA program Music, Theatre and Performance Studies (RUG), and will again be in collaboration with the policy team of ESNS and Guds Agency.

Research Focus

  • Last year's research shows that bookers make certain choices that do not always positively influence gender representation at music events. This is evident from the discrepancy between what the line-ups of the festivals show and the male-female distribution in the ESNS Exchange programme. What are the methods and concerns of bookers within the European festival world? What are the main reasons for booking artists? What demographics do they book for and what is the composition of their team?
  • Furthermore, we woould like to expand the MA student Dan Padure's gender analysis of Eurosonic noorderslag and conduct in-depth research on other festivals such as Reeperbahn festival, Leeds festival, Tallinn Music Week, Glastonbury, Reading festival or other European festivals.

Division of tasks

  • The students can use the extensive network that ESNS has available for their interviews, they can view policy documents and they can ask the ESNS project team, GUDS Agency and MaLisa Stiftung for guidance.
  • Lecturers from the Arts, Culture & Media MA program supervise the research process on a substatial lveel and grade the final product.
  • The Science Shop Language, Culture & Communication acts as an intermediary and guarantees that the end product meets the wishes of the client.


  • Ilona Deuring - EU policy officer ESNS (contact person between the students, ESNS and its EU partners)
  • Dr Chris Tonelli - Assistant Professor of Music (RUG)
  • Vincent Hazelhoff - Coordinator Science Shop LCC (RUG)
  • Lars Jansen - Project manager Science Shop LCC (RUG)

For more information about the research, you can contact the Science Shop Language, Culture & Communication

Last modified:28 August 2023 2.09 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands