What is Keychange?

Keychange is an international campaign which invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging music festivals, orchestras, conservatoires, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, record labels and all music organisations to sign up to a 50:50 gender balance pledge by 2022.

Keychange is led by PRS Foundation, supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, in partnership with Musikcentrum Öst, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Tallinn Music Week, Way Out West, Liverpool Sound City and Mutek.

How do I sign my festival/organisation up to the Keychange pledge?

Please send information about your event or organisation to keychange@prsfoundation.com

What about Transgender and non-binary performers and professionals?

We will include all women, trans and non-binary performers in the 50% target for the Keychange pledge. This is a pledge based on inclusivity – we acknowledge and represent all genders and our aim is to address the imbalance between those who are currently represented and those who are consistently underrepresented.

How did Keychange come about?

  • It began as a European talent development programme for emerging artists and innovators led by PRS Foundation
  • The 50:50 pledge was proposed by Keychange festival partners who wanted to show they are serious in their commitment to gender equality in addition to offering showcasing opportunities to female talent.
  • Since then festivals from all over the world have signed up to the pledge making Keychange a movement for positive change, and in June 2019, the Keychange pledge expanded to invite all music organisations to sign up to the pledge.

What’s the current gender balance across live music festivals?

  • In the UK in 2017, women made up 26% of the line-up in a sample of large music festivals and less than 10% of headliners in a survey conducted in the US.
  • In our Keychange network some festivals are further away from the target than others. Some are leading the way by having already achieved a 50:50 balance and are using Keychange as an opportunity to promote how they’ve reached this target.

Why is the target set for 2022?

  • We launched the Keychange programme towards the end of 2017 so this pledge was established as a 5 year framework for change.
  • Keychange is the first collective approach to tackling gender equality at festivals and throughout the music industry, so we’re starting with specific, measured steps, shaped by the festivals and organisations themselves which gives everyone a chance of making tangible progress and creating realistic long term change.
  • We think 2022 is an ambitious but achievable target with time for change year on year.

What do you mean by 50:50?

  • Festivals and organisations are making a gender balance commitment which makes sense to their own set up, programme and music genre e.g. major classical events like BBC Proms and Aldeburgh Festivals are looking at the number of women composers they commission, popular music festivals are looking at the number of women on their stages and industry showcases are also looking at their conference panels.
  • 50:50 in line-ups of popular music festivals will be measured according to the number of acts featuring at least one self-identifying woman, transgender or non-binary individual.

Does 50:50 mean an even balance of festival headliners?

  • Our priority in this first phase is to ensure that 50% of acts programmed include at least one woman/transgender/non-binary person. Many of the festivals are going further than this but we want this first target to be achievable and to encourage everyone who’s working on this to be thinking about long term change.

What if one year a festival’s programme is more balanced than another year between now and 2022?

  • Some festivals will be aiming for an average 50:50 over the 4 years as their line-ups naturally fluctuate around the 50% mark.

And for other music organisations, in which areas are they being asked to apply the 50:50 target?

  • Orchestras could use the 50:50 target for composers commissioned and/or number of players, no. of principal players, balance of senior staff
  • Concert halls could look at line-ups on stage (as our Keychange festivals have) or other aspects of their organisation eg. senior staff, backstage staff
  • Conservatoires could look at students, lecturers, senior staff teams, live music programmes, visiting musicians
  • Agents, publishers and labels may want to look at the balance of artists they sign
  • Other charities or trade bodies could also consider the make-up of their Board and staff whilst pledging to encourage its members to sign up to Keychange as well
  • Broadcasters could use the pledge to look at the guests they invite onto their shows or presenters and music broadcast
  • Publications and those employing editorial staff could apply the Keychange pledge when commissioning writers, editors, photographers etc.
  • Organisations with youth groups or education programmes may also want to apply a Keychange pledge to this area of their workWe strongly believe that the target needs to be defined and owned by the festivals and organisations themselves and we will collate data annually to help measure progress. 

Why aren’t you demanding exactly the same data from everyone?

  • Because every festival and organisation is different, and depending of the festival or organisation in question, our signatories have made different pledges concerning a variety of areas within their set up.
  • We are aiming to increase the number of women performing at festivals and working in the music industry at every level, rather than creating restrictive or off putting guidelines. Keychange is about celebrating the efforts being made by music organisations who sign up rather than naming and shaming those who don’t.

How do we go about collecting all of this data?

  • All of the Keychange signatories are joining a pledge and providing data through a central database which we will keep track of over the next 4 years.

Why now?

  • The momentum building around gender equality across the creative industries at the moment gives us a great opportunity to start pushing for real change.
  • There’s much more recognition of the gender gap in music than there was before. That’s the first step in this journey; now it’s about men and women in positions of influence promoting role models, investing in emerging talent, recognising the barriers for women in a male dominated industry and leading change that will benefit everyone. Current Keychange partners are encouraging more festivals to join the gender equality pledge in order to create sustainable change in the music industry and to show that it is possible for festivals to successfully achieve this balance.” 

What next for the Keychange programme?

  • We have grown our partnership to include Italy, Ireland, Norway, Poland and France and we’re waiting to hear about EU funding for the next phase of our talent development programme
  • Meanwhile, Keychange partners are encouraging more festivals and other music organisations join the gender equality pledge in order to create sustainable change in the music industry and to show that it is possible for festivals and any music organisation to successfully achieve this balance.

What happens after 2022?

  • Based on the interest so far, this looks like it’s a programme that will build momentum over time and will last as long as it takes.
  • We’ll use the data we gather and the feedback from the participating festivals to guide any further steps the programme might take, whether that’s continuing to focus on festivals or other areas of the music industry.
  • Success will be the moment when Keychange isn’t needed any more, but until then we will do what we can to promote positive action in the music industry.

Why is Keychange needed?

  • Representation of women in the music industry remains very low in all European countries. Across the participating countries’ collecting societies, women represent 20% or less of registered composers and songwriters. Earnings for women are even lower and women are under-represented in leadership roles across the industry and on stages at festival programmes. Read more about the gender gap in music via the links below:

Is Iceland The Best Place In The World To Be A Female Musician?
Gender Equality in Music: The Beginnings of a New Movement Involving Men and Women

www.keychange.eu | @KeychangeEU #Keychange


UK Launch:

The Guardian,

Daily Mail


Rolling Stone


ABC Online

Victoria Derbyshire (from 1:46:10)

Music Week


Resident Advisor




The Times


The Quietus

IQ Magazine

Classical Music Magazine

Radio X

Belfast Telegraph

The Yorkshire Post

The Industry Observer



Byte FM

The I Online

Evening Standard

The Telegraph

The Independent

BBC News

Music Week – Keychange Announcement

International Arts Manager – Keychange Announcement

Festival Flyer – Keychange Announcement

Women in Music Blog – Keychange Announcement

CMU – Keychange Announcement

Record of the Day – Keychange Announcement

M Magazine – Keychange Announcement

Festival Insights – Keychange Announcement

Access All Areas – Keychange Announcement

Silent Radio – Keychange Announcement

Data Transmission – Keychange Announcement

Stern – Reeperbahn Panel Review

Kultur Port – Reeperbahn Preview

Mopo – Alexa Feser Keychange Interview

Ziet – Reeperbahn Preview

Hamburger Abendblatt – Reeperbahn Review


Deutschlandfunk – Reeperbahn Review

Radio Sweden – Iman Interview

GP – Gnucci Interview

P5 – Iman Interview

Musik Industrin – Keychange Launch