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Festival Republic and PRS Foundation launch ReBalance initiative to get more women into music production

Festival Republic has launched a three-year programme to address gender imbalance within the music industry, in what has been hailed “a massive step forward” by singer-songwriter Nadine Shah.

With support from PRS Foundation, ReBalance will offer women who want to work in sound production two Leeds-based studio apprenticeships over the three years. It will also provide one week’s studio recording time to a core female band, musician or solo artist every month in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – with guaranteed slots at a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival at the end of each year.

Experts from labels, publishers and streaming services – plus more – will be able to put female artists forward for the scheme. Along with Festival Republic and PRS staff, a rotating panel of industry experts –including singer songwriter Nadine Shah – will then draw up the shortlist for each year.

Shah told PSNE: “Affording more women the opportunity to work within this somewhat hostile male dominated industry is of great importance. Only once there is a proper balance between male and female artists on line-ups, label rosters and producer lists, can we then call this an industry which is truly representative of society.

“There are many things that need to change [regarding diversity within the industry] but this is an indication of a massive step forward, especially with the inclusion of Melvin Benn, who has received much criticism for the lack of female artists on his festival lineups. It’s a wonderful thing to see that something is actually being done about this.”

In the recent Women Make Music Evaluation carried out by PRS Foundation, it was highlighted that women represent 16% of UK songwriters and composers, and that there is a lack of women in other roles across the industry. Engineering, in particular, is viewed as an almost entirely male ‘closed shop’.

The two engineering apprentices will work with experts at Leeds’ Old Chapel Music Studio during the scheme’s first 18 months, before moving on to lead and co-engineer the project in years two and three. Accommodation and travel will be covered by Festival Republic.

The selection panels for musicians will take place quarterly and will include Melvin Benn (MD of Festival Republic), Vanessa Reed (Chief Executive of PRS Foundation) and Lucy Wood (Festival Republic, Talent Booker).

Reed commented: “Low representation of women in these aspects of the creative process is an obstacle for female artists as well young women who are considering a career in music production.

“I’m delighted that Festival Republic are responding to this by offering new opportunities which will support female artists alongside younger women who want to develop skills in music production and sound engineering. I’m also pleased that this is happening in Leeds, acknowledging the importance of promoting infrastructure and opportunities for talent development outside of London.”

Benn added: “Something needs to be done about gender equality in the music industry. It’s a wider issue that involves us [the live industry] but the solution doesn’t rest only with us. I have decided to be proactive in changing and working towards this no longer being an issue in the future, and that’s what this project is about.”

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