UK music promoter Festival Republic has launched its ReBalance initiative to counteract the music industry’s gender imbalance.

The project, centred in Leeds, will give UK-based female musicians, solo artists or female-featuring bands a one-week studio recording slot each month for the next three years.

From 2018 through to 2020, Festival Republic will pay for the select artists’ studio and engineering costs, as well as accommodation and travel expenses. In addition, those selected will be given slots at a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival at the end of each year.

ReBalance has also revealed that it will offer apprenticeships for studio engineers, with a push for female applicants.

PRS Foundation’s recent Women Make Music Evaluation found that only 16 per cent of UK songwriters and composers are female and that women are less prevalent in other roles in the industry. It cites engineering specifically as being “viewed as an almost entirely closed shop.”

The three-year programme will host two apprentices, with the first 18 months involving working with in-house engineers at Leeds’ Old Chapel Music Studio. The back half of the project will see the individuals become lead or co-engineers.

Industry experts, chosen by Festival Republic and PRS Foundation, will select the artists and engineers to take part in the programme. A selection panel of musicians, journalists, booking agents, label bosses and more will then shortlist and select the successful acts, according to NME magazine.

Festival Republic is defining female as anyone who identifies as a woman, while for bands to be eligible they must include a woman or women who are “fundamental to writing and producing duties.”

Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic,said in a press release: “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.”

Fickle Friends‘ singer Natti Shiner (pictured), who is part of the selection panel, added: “Let’s face it, guitar music is male-dominated and it seems like the wider music industry is hardwired towards men – even the fact that people often feel they have to refer to our band as being “female-fronted” feels wrong (who ever referred to Arctic Monkeys as a “male-fronted band?!).

“ReBalance is important because it looks to tackle this issue in a long-term way. Rather than just sticking a few female artists on some bills as a token gesture, it will provide support for the things that matter to an emerging artist – studio time, travel, accommodation, practical advice etc.”

Image: S. Bollman