Empowering Women In Music

Time for change

The music industry sees itself as the embodiment of diversity. But that’s far from being reflected in its structures: female, transgender, and non-binary artists have fewer opportunities to perform than men, they earn less and find it harder to get jobs in the music industry. That has to change. Equal rights are a key step towards a future-proof music landscape.

That's what we want to achieve

The UK PRS Foundation launched the Keychange initiative – originally as a talent development programme for female artists and music managers. It has now grown into a movement of festivals and music organizations that promotes gender parity. The declared goal of Keychange is to trigger a global debate which will lead to sustainable change in the music landscape.

The Keychange Pledge: Gender balance by 2022

Together with strong international partners such as the PRS Foundation, Musikcentrum Sweden, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, the Tallinn Music Week and MUTEK, the Reeperbahn Festival has developed the Keychange Pledge. For us, that means: At least one woman, transgender or non-binary person will be present in 50 percent of the acts in the festival and conference program. A total of 180 festivals are already on board with this campaign. The full list can be found here: All signatories.

Going deeper: expanding the Keychange initiative

In June 2019, Keychange reached a new milestone: the initiative was extended to related companies and organizations affiliated to music, including agencies, labels, conservatoires and orchestras in this important transformation. They can now also sign the Keychange Pledge. So far, more than 60 organizations have joined, including the Royal Opera House, the English National Opera, the German label ferryhouse and radio broadcaster ByteFM. You will find all partners of the Keychange initiative here.

“Equality in the music industry is obviously extremely important – for everybody. It’s a human issue, it’s not just a female issue. It makes the whole world more interesting because there’s a more fully-rounded creative output. To be honest, I think we still have so much to do and to fight for.
I just want to be a part of that change.”

Kate Nash, artist and Keychange Ambassador, woofmusic

“I just like the idea of having a platform on which we can exchange our experiences on an emotional level but also based on facts and numbers. That’s what we need in order to talk about the disbalance that is going on in the music business. If we have facts and numbers it’s easier to talk about
it, and to make people think about it, and to make people shift with us
in order to make it better for everyone.”

Joy Denalane, artist and Keychange Ambassador

“It’s not just about women, it’s not about men. It’s not even that we’re women and men - and there’s a lot more. It’s about unearthing under that non-binary ways of identifying what we really are and becoming ourselves. It’s about all of us.”

Peaches, artist

“One thing that I think can come from this pledge is knowing that diversity of thought creates incredible art. And hopefully this pledge will advance that idea in a bigger and more important way.”

Puja Patel, Editor-in-Chief, Pitchfork

“I proudly support Keychange because it’s a specific structural mission that we need to be held accountable to as an industry. When there’s a goal of gender balance at festivals, that’s something we can work towards. We can measure where we are – and it sucks, it’s bleak – but we can improve.”

Molly Neumann, Global Head of Business Development, Songtrust

“I’ve enjoyed working with lots of talented female artists so I’d love to see more young women being encouraged to make music their career. Wouldn’t it be great for us all to see a more equal number of men and women on stages and on panels in the near future?”

Tony Visconti, producer and musician

“I support Keychange because I want more awareness of the power structures in the music industry.”

Salwa Houmsi, presenter and journalist, Radio Fritz/Jäger&Sammler

“Keychange is important to me because we have a more urgent need than ever to talk about feminism, regardless of the industry. An initiative like Keychange can succeed in putting the spotlight on this topic and making it visible.”

Kathrin Weßling, author and journalist


“More space, more resources, more women, more femmes, more non-binaries.”

Leyla Yenirce, musician, artist and journalist


“I think the Keychange programme is really exciting and it’s necessary to start to address these structural issues that are affecting why there isn’t equality in the music industry. The world is made up of lots of women and we have some shit to say. So listen up!”

Lauren Barri Holstein / “The Famous“, artist, The Famous OMG

Keychange 2.0: EU Commission to support four more years of program

Diversity is a gain for our culture – and more successful economically as well. In the second phase of the Keychange initiative, a growing network of committed ambassadors and organizations is gathering behind these ideas. From September 2019 on, the EU Commission is to support the Keychange initiative for a further four years – with total funding of 1.4 million euros. At this stage, the Reeperbahn Festival is to take over the leadership of the joint efforts. The contents of Keychange 2.0 were presented and discussed at the Reeperbahn Festival 2019, by Keychange Ambassador Kate Nash, Susanne Hollmann from the European Commission and Alexander Schultz, co-founder of the Keychange initiative and General Manager of the Reeperbahn Festival.

Stick with it

Keep up to date on the subject of Keychange and other Festival news – with the Reeperbahn Festival Newsletter: Subscribe to Newsletter

Strong partners: these are the organizations behind the Keychange initiative

The British PRS Foundation launched Keychange. The Reeperbahn Festival is leading the second phase of the initiative in close collaboration with the Foundation and the Musikcentrum Öst (Sweden), Iceland Airwaves (Iceland), the Tallinn Music Week/Shiftworks (Estonia) and the BIME Festival (Spain).

New partners coming on board are the Ireland Music Week/First Music Contact (Ireland), the Oslo World Festival (Norway), Linecheck Festival/Innovation Hub (Italy) and SACEM (France). Other festivals that have joined the Keychange initiative are Way Out West (Sweden), Liverpool Sound City (UK), MUTEK and BreakOut West (Canada).

The main sponsors are Gorwelion Horizons, SOCAN Foundation, SoundCloud, STIM, STEF, IMRO, GEMA, Songtrust, Fundación SGAE, FACTOR, Ableton, Smirnoff Equalising Music, and the Roskilde Festival. Keychange is also supported by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media.

partners and sources

Sources infographics:
01: The World Bank (2017): Population, female (% of total population): (Last updated: 14.8.19)
Smith, Dr. Stacy L. / Choueiti, Marc / Pieper, Dr. Katherine (2019): Inclusion in the Recording Studio. Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Artists, Songwriters & Producers: (Last updated:14.8.19)
02: Keychange program


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