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The Lack of Diversity at Bled Fest

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Bled Fest have posted a blog on their website discussing, kind of, why they don’t have more diverse roster at this year’s festival:

    Is there a responsibility on us or other event producers like us to even pay any attention to races, genders, etc.? Is there a quota? Let’s just roll with an estimate of 10%. If 10% of applications represent minorities, should I book 10% of acts featuring minorities? 15%? 20%? Should we specifically attempt to go outside of who submitted and the agents we work with (defined earlier as almost entirely white males) to make sure that there’s a fair % of minorities represented? and what’s fair? Do we focus more on race and gender than we do on skill, promotional value, achievement, professionalism, etc.?

    I think this is a false choice. I don’t think looking at the reasons for why certain music scenes lack diversity means you need to ignore other metrics. Using phrases like “affirmative action” and “quotas” misses the entire damn point: do better than you’re doing right now. Let’s start there.

  2. nl5011

    Trusted Supporter

    I agree. Acknowledging a problem is easy. Shouldering the blame is easy. But finding a solution, that's what we are all looking for.
  3. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    In my mind, wouldn't a big step in the right direction be hiring POC whose job duty would be ensuring diversity within the festival? Someone who actually cares about these things and could actively reach out to underrepresented bands?

    I see the statistical distribution argument brought up a lot which is funny because it's more than likely an afterthought after they've been called out. Like, don't pretend this is some obstacle to diversity that you actually encountered, most of the time you didn't even try.
  4. stefoske


    I don't really want people getting exposure due to their gender/orientation/race, it should only be a problem on the organizers end if they are denying requests to have artists on because they aren't white males.

    Who is preventing non white male bands from playing, where is the actual issue?
    Zetsu likes this.
  5. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    Except people aren't getting exposure because of their gender/orientation/race. That's the issue.
    cybele likes this.
  6. I'd recommend starting with some reading which will give a better background to discuss the issue specific to the music scene:

    Studies of Unconscious Bias: Racism Not Always by Racists
    The answer, Williams argued, is unconscious discrimination. According to Williams, the research shows that when people hold a negative stereotype about a group and meet someone from that group, they often treat that person differently and honestly don't even realize it. Williams noted that most Americans would object to being labeled as “racist” or even as “discriminating”, but he added, “Welcome to the human race. It is a normal process about how all of us process information. The problem for our society is that the level of negative stereotypes is very high.”

    Does Unconscious Racism Exist?

    This essay argues for the existence of a form of unconscious racism. Research on implicit prejudice provides good evidence that most persons have deeply held negative associations with minority groups that can lead to subtle discrimination without conscious awareness. The evidence for implicit attitudes is briefly reviewed. Criticisms of the implicit prejudice literature raised by Arkes and Tetlock (2004) are discussed, but found to be inconsistent with several findings of prejudice research.

    One of the more unsettling recent scientific discoveries is the fact that your behavior is influenced every day by unwanted, unconscious social and cultural biases.

    Sure, you accept that some people think in certain ways that you don’t because they’ve absorbed cultural norms that you didn’t, but what about your own mind? It can seem as if once you’ve recognized your own contributions to racism and privilege you should then be able to proceed with a clean slate, rebooted with the awareness of your own ignorance, but free from it.

    So, to start with - looking for some kind of smoking gun, like a specific person actively preventing certain bands from playing, is really the wrong question. We can look at the results: very few diverse bands are being added to festivals and we know these bands exist. So the question of "why" doesn't need to be attached to one exclusionary example, but more broadly a look at the system from the ground up to question why there is such a lack of diversity at every step and how we can do better. One way is to actively promote, seek out, and expect diversity in our music scene. It gets better when we do better and the way to get more bands submitting themselves to festivals or being accepted for local shows, or by booking agents, or by labels ... is to show it's possible, demand it at every stage, and to promote that cycle in the areas we can. So, to answer the author's question: Yes, I think intentionality on the part of the old white dudes in position of power is expected and important.
  7. stefoske


    Have any artists represented by these agents who put the bands forward for the event come forward about not being put forward? or are you saying they aren't even getting agents to represent their interests because of their gender/orientation/race?

    I always felt in these types of scenes there is just an overwhelming amount of all male white bands, so I am not sure if I am just under exposed or if that is just how it is.
  8. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    Just gonna redirect you to Jason's post above since it addresses your first question -- searching for an exact entity to blame might be misguided. I think it's more nuanced than that but it's certainly worth learning more on. There's just a disproportionate amount of representation for white male bands, which leads you to believe that the scene is just entirely composed of that.
    For example:
    Female Musicians Worth Checking Out • Page 10 •

    I thought there was an LGBTIQ musicians thread too but maybe that was on AP.
  9. SoundwaveUproar

    Regular Prestigious

    I'm not sure which side of the argument I fall on yet. I do have a question for some of you though. What bands that feature minority (race gender etc) members do you think would actually go over well at bled fest.

    I'm asking because the female musician thread was linked to and I actually just posted a few of my favorite female musicians as of late in there to get them some exposure. But I don't think a single one thst I posted would do well at a festival like bled fest in the slightest.
  10. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    Julien Baker, Colleen Green, Girlpool, Frankie Cosmos. Those have all been posted in that thread i'm pretty sure too. I've never been to Bled Fest but looking at past lineups I don't see why these girls wouldnt work.
    Jason Tate likes this.
  11. I've always found it a little weird people open discussions like this. I mean, what "sides" are there? One that is saying we should promote more diversity in the music scene and what's the other ... one that says that's not needed? Is that really something that needs that much thought?

    The issue I have with this question is what you are effectively asking is for a list of bands to go through and ask they prove their worth, or make an argument for ... when the same is not asked for plenty of bands on these festivals. White dude with a guitar? Beard? That's seen as enough to justify the inclusion and be seen as "would go over well" — no other questions asked. I think starting from that premise is part of the problem. Second, once a band is "on" they're not all of a sudden thrown through a gauntlet of "well, would they actually go over well?" — look at the bottom of the bill — plenty of bands sitting there that are no better or worse than countless others you could find by browsing bandcamp for an hour. It's not like every single artist top-to-bottom is a 100% winner with thousands of fans — there's plenty already on the bill that aren't going to go over that well.

    There's quite a few bands in there that would fit in on that Bled Fest lineup. It's not like it's a festival made up of some specific genre that only 10 bands exist in. Lots of pretty basic indie rock.
    Petit nain des Îles likes this.
  12. SoundwaveUproar

    Regular Prestigious

    Thanks for giving me some new stuff to look into. I'm a big fan of Baker but even her... Would I see her preform these really mellow and melancholy songs from sprained ankle when I can see something with some more intensity? I just don't think female singer songwriters are great for these kinds of fests. Some I can see going over okay (Allison Weiss and slingshot Dakota would probably go over well in the citizen knuckle puck crowd), but Baker? I'm a fan and I can't say I'd want to see her in a festival format
  13. SoundwaveUproar Apr 22, 2016
    (Last edited: Apr 22, 2016)

    Regular Prestigious

    I don't want these bands to prove their worth to me. I don't want to give off that kind of impression. But in the context of a festival where the highest billed band that I know of is Black Dahlia Murder it just seems like they could be potentially spreading themselves to thin at that point. Bled fest isn't Lollapalooza level really or even Warped level in some ways. If I were a promoter of course I would want the artists to be diverse in race gender and religion, but not at the risk of spreading ourselves to the point where we no longer have a somewhat solid target market.

    Julien Baker was brought up. I love her, but in a day of Citizen, Kevin Devine, and Black Dahlia would I see her? Me yes, casual music fans I really doubt would

    edited: some grammar, typed that up on mobile so it came out as if written by a child.
  14. stefoske


    I already knew about the things you linked and agree with what you have said.

    What I meant was the organizer hadn't discriminated as far as I can tell, that would have happened further down the line from him to end up with the choices he had.

    That is what I meant by "where is the actual issue".

    Anything he does in addition is of course a plus, but as you said yourself about ground up, that is where change normally needs to come from.
  15. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    I don't think the conversation to be having is whether or not Baker would go over well at Bled Fest. But, to that note, if some POS like Front Porch Step can be put on the bill in past lineups (which I only bring up because he'd be considered 'softer' music), there's no reason Baker can't be. Less people like him, more people like her, is what we need. <- I'm saying this generally, irregardless of the genre.
  16. stefoske


    I opened this link when I saw it mentioned then realized it was in the comment aimed at me when I was trying to find what I got an alert about, thanks.

    Female artists is what I am most interested in as it is something I wish I had more of that I actually like, it brings variety to what I listen to, whereas race and orientation is just something I may at some point know if I see a photo/live show/see it mentioned online.

    I agree that it is nuanced and bigger than a single issue or point, though if the organizer are fine to put non white male bands on, the more information we have and accountability we put on people the better from my perspective. Such as are bands being signed by agents that didn't put them through for consideration and why, and if none, why all male. If it is fine to focus on the organizers, agents should be fair game for accountability.

    That thread was on AP, I remember it.
  17. SoundwaveUproar

    Regular Prestigious

    That's something I 100% percent agree with. But just going by the lineup I see of Bled Fest (keeping in mind, I've never been to the festival itself, but am actively trying to see the entire music landscapes issues with women and other minorities from as many angles as I can) I'm not necessarily sure that putting women on for the sake of diversity will actually have the effect that people want. More women will be at the festivals with (more likely than not) less fans at those stages. These festivals want to make money, and if they saw drawing power in these minorities they would gobble them up (from a business perspective I would). I think we need more diverse festivals to emerge now. Ones where artists like Baker, Weiss, Slingshot Dakota, and the other female artists in the indie rock scene can really flourish. We're counting on these festivals to change, but that won't be a solution because the casual fan does not want these festivals to change (although I'm sure most would say they do) nor do the festival bookers because clearly the mentality at this point is "if it ain't broke don't fix it". It is broke, but the people that are booking things today are not the one's we can count on to fix it.
    Tata Toothy likes this.
  18. transrebel59


    How many POC and women does this website employ? And how many people overall?
  19. Kingjohn_654

    Longtime Sunshine Prestigious

    Every festival of any genre should have Bad Rabbits in the lineup. Those guys are great and diverse.
  20. SoundwaveUproar

    Regular Prestigious

    I mean... I think this site as two employees at this point (somewhat a joke)

    but typically the percentage of journalists that are women are 32-37 percent depending on what area of journalism you are looking into. Not necessarily the best statistic, but this isn't the best thing to bring up when maybe 5% of Bled Fest's lineup is women. and AP.Net had a ton of female staff members towards the end.
  21. transrebel59


    I remember at one point I did count the AP staff numbers - it was actually pretty low. They had something like 30 employees/contributors (people listed on their About Us page) and there was (I think) 7 women.
  22. ReginaPhilange

    Trusted Prestigious

    To be fair, I recall reading that several women moderators felt uncomfortable due to harassment they received by members on AP and I think they may have left. I don't want to speak for anyone else though, and I could be remembering incorrectly
    Jason Tate likes this.
  23. Kiana Apr 22, 2016
    (Last edited: Apr 22, 2016)

    Goddamn, man child Prestigious

    you have literally done this in multiple posts tho by talking about why Baker wouldn't be a good fit. Not because she hasn't proved her worth to you since you said you're a fan, but just like @Jason Tate said it gets into this territory of arguing why certain women shouldn't be on the tour and why they don't "fit" and that's not really a productive conversation imo

    and since ppl brought up staff I always thought @Melody Bot was a female cyborg. Is it not??
    AelNire, Jacob and Jason Tate like this.
  24. SoundwaveUproar

    Regular Prestigious

    They don't need to prove their worth to me is what I should have said. Nor should they have to to the Booker's of these festivals because clearly there is some market there for these female artists. I just think any festival that goes from having 0 to 5 percent women one year and suddenly bumps that to 30 to 40 percent women is taking a risk. Unfortunately they do kind of have to prove their worth to the people that book these shows. I said in another post that the mentality here with these promoters is if it ain't broke don't fix it and they don't think it's broke. I do think it's broke, but I don't think adding more poc or women is a fix. A good example is the warped tour acoustic tent. I spend the majority of my time in that thing and unfortunately the women and minorities lose their audience a large portion of the time (at least at my two dates)

    I don't think adding them to these festivals is a solution at this point because we can't count on the people booking these festivals to do it well. Bled fest seems to have a target audience that really doesn't strike me as people that would want to see Baker. So shed get a spot on stage but kinda be out of place with a lot of the audience and theyed fail to promote her well. Realistically I think new festivals have to emerge that highlight diversity. Until the festival's see that there is a market for it and that market would pay good money to see it then they aren't going to do much about it. They'll try to justify not taking the risk kinda how bled fest have.
  25. Viva Sonata Prestigious

    This is an absolute cop out. It's not about meeting fake (and kind of racist) quotas. It's about showcasing how diverse and equally talented our scene can be in a festival setting.
    Penguin, Jason Tate and AelNire like this.