SOME of the most senior figures in the music industry have poured scorn on claims that a nearly all-male headline line-up, revealed for Glasgow’s TRNSMT last week, is due to a lack of high-profile female talent.

Just two of 12 acts announced last week as headliners of the festival, organised by DF Concerts, are women.

As the backlash grew Marta Pallares, head of international press for Primavera Sound, the first major music festival to have a 50/50 gender balance, told the Sunday National that claims that it was harder to find women artists was a “really crappy, lame excuse”.

The National: TRNSMT festival 2019

The criticism joins that made by high profile female artists who have hit out at comments made by festival director Geoff Ellis who claimed that gender-balanced bills were “several years ahead for any major festival” because there were “far, far fewer female artists”. A spokeswoman said he was referring to headline acts only.

He also claimed that more women “needed to pick up guitars” which hit a particularly sour note. Electropop artist and producer Shura filled her Twitter feed with pictures of women playing guitars, then added a photograph of others playing drums. Scots singer-songwriters KT Tunstall and Nina Nesbitt both dismissed his claims while Self Esteem, Etta Bond and Charlie XCX expressed incredulity at the comments.

Some industry insiders have claimed that booking festival acts involves complicated negotiations and pointed out it’s not a case of “going out with a shopping list”. Speaking to the Sunday National, Pallares dismissed the validity of Ellis’s claims.

READ MORE: Message to TRNSMT: Marvellous women are making you look old

She said: “I can understand if somebody said they were not interested in these kind of acts and would rather have traditional indie rock bands – which are mostly led by men. But it’s a really crappy, lame excuse to say you are not booking women because there are not enough women. Not being interested in other kinds of music is a business decision, but saying you would like to book more women but there are not enough is simply a lie.”

Pallares added: “We had 150 female acts this year and if we can do it, anyone can. It proves that if you want to commit to a gender-balanced line-up there is no need to shoehorn names in as the talent is out there. There are lots and lots of really talented female acts if you are interested in them.”

This year was the first time Primavera Sound achieved a 50/50 gender split but last year 35% of the acts were female without any effort being made to balance it, Pallares said.

“If you are really interested in the music that came out in 2018/19 it’s clear that some of the best albums released were made by women and that was reflected in our line-up,” she said, adding that promoters “blind” to the talent were “confining themselves”.

“They think they need to sell tickets but that is not an excuse any more as this year, on the last day of our festival, we sold more tickets than ever before. We had 65,000 people so you can have really high-quality music and also commit to gender balance.” Some of the leading female acts in 2019 were Solange, Rosalia, FKA Twigs, Christine and the Queens, Janelle Monae, Cardi B and Lizzo.

While Primavera Sound has been the first major festival to achieve a gender balance, Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis has said next year’s line-up will be “as close to 50/50 as we can”.

Some of the smaller festivals like Iceland’s Airwaves are also achieving a gender balance with many signed up to a Performing Rights Society Foundation pledge to have a 50/50 gender-balanced line-up by 2022. Rapper Little Simz’s festival Wonderland is 75% women and HebCelt Fest has an equal gender split. Director Caroline MacLennan said: “For many of our audience having a line-up that is diverse is a key factor in their enjoyment.”

The National:

KT Tunstall took to Twitter to claim there seemed to be no will on the part of TRNSMT “to change the fact that there it’s five times harder for a female act to get on a festival bill in the UK”.

“If you put f*ck all effort into it, then no sh*t, it’ll take years,” she tweeted.

Later she told the Sunday National that it was “100% untrue” to say that having an equal mix of men and women on a festival bill is unrealistic and said that the issue was that people who don’t keep up with new music, don’t understand what is popular and “can’t be arsed addressing this issue”.

“TRNSMT festival is in a phenomenally powerful position to offer potentially career-changing opportunities to female artists, and as far as their headline acts and initial line up announcement is concerned, they have almost completely voted against doing that.

“I would love to see the top-of-the-bill male artists supporting us in this issue by demanding that the festivals they are invited to play at make sure they have a balanced, or at least improved gender balance in their line-ups.”

She claimed setting up women-only stages – such as TRNSMT did with the Queen Tut’s stage aimed at nurturing new female talent – was unhelpful.

“Young girls need to see role models on stage, on crews, in studios, working at labels, and promoting shows and festivals, working equally alongside guys for this situation to improve.

“Every area of music needs to become more self-aware and change their hiring and booking practices.”

Scots singer-songwriter Emma Pollock added: “There are some incredible, vital, Scottish female artists out there including Kathryn Joseph, Karine Polwart, Sacred Paws, The Vegan Leather, Chvrches and KT Tunstall as well as fantastic female artists from further afield like St Vincent, Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Courtney Barnett, Alvvays and Snail Mail to name a few.

“There are plenty of female artists and if some festivals are reticent to position them front and centre within their bill they have to ask themselves whether they are helping or hindering progress.”

She argued that smaller artists needed support throughout their careers. “That includes making them part of existing festival billing so they may benefit from what is an exciting and burgeoning UK festival scene and, in turn, allow us festival goers the chance to benefit from a broader, more balanced and adventurous line-up.”

Yana Petticrew, a student and committee member of Girls Rock ­– a volunteer-run organisation supporting girls making music – said: “It’s disheartening as a young female musician to hear this, that despite my efforts, and the efforts of hundreds of other women, we can be blatantly swept aside.”

Petticrew, 20, who took part in Girls Rock’s first summer school in 2015, plays clarsach and bass guitar, and now puts on gigs with Skint Kids Disco, added: “Diversity in music is a huge problem and that’s what puts young girls off picking up instruments. This is why grassroots organisations like Girls Rock Glasgow exist. We intercept before people like Ellis can disregard girls’ artistry and cultivate the same beige bands for the next 10 years.

“As consumers, we can make a change too. Hold promoters accountable for what bands they choose to put on. Boycott things like TRNSMT to show your solidarity.”

DF Concerts was approached but said it would not further comment.