A new social enterprise has launched this week to support female and gender minority musicians.

The brainchild of equality and diversity campaigner Vick Bain, The F-List is an online resource that lists artists, bands, songwriters and composers who identify as female. Initially uploaded as a sprawling online spreadsheet, Bain has re-launched it as a fully searchable, not-for-profit website. 

The aim of the directory is to improve representation of women at all levels of the industry – from session musicians and arrangers, to producers and festival headliners. The initiative has already gained support from partners such as SWIM (Scottish Women Inventing Music) and Independent Venue Week and ambassadors such as Be Charlotte.

While studying the career paths of women in the music industry as part of her PhD research, Bain found that only 14% of UK writers and composers signed to publishers, and just 20% of artists signed to record labels, are female.

She also found that while many festival bookers sought to book more diverse talent, most festival bills continued to be dominated by males, particularly in headlining slots. Before the pandemic, only 8% of 2020’s festival headliners were due to be female, with just three acts – Taylor Swift, Little Mix and Haim – topping the bill at the UK’s 16 biggest events.

The launch of the F-List will hopefully help to fix this problem with its associated not-for-profit set to champion equality and diversity in the industry.

Vick Bain told BBC Radio 4’s Today “The problem for women in the UK music industry is they are still in the minority when it comes to professional work:

“Only 20% of musicians signed to record labels are women and about 15% of festival headliners are women. So they don’t have much presence, professionally, even though they consist of nearly half of all music degree students.”

“We are going to raise awareness, we’re going to create initiatives to help facilitate training and development, we are going to increase knowledge about gender inequality. We want to be a major authority for promoting women in music.”

The F-List have also announced composer and musician Anoushka Shankar as their first president. She said “I am delighted to represent this fantastically talented and committed community, who are passionate about creating opportunities for the great wealth of female talent that exists in the UK”.

“The F-List is the first initiative of its kind to give female artists and musicians a platform where they can be discovered”, she goes on. “Its breath-taking thoroughness and scope nullifies any excuses from people in the music industry who blame a lack of representation and diversity by saying there’s a dearth of women to hire. But it’s also a supportive network that can transform the music industry into a place that better represents, and reflects, the richness and diversity in British society”.

Also announced as an ambassador to the initiative, Be Charlotte has said “”It should be no surprise to anyone to know that I believe women are severely overlooked and underrepresented in the music industry and thesestatistics showed in the images above played a key role in the all-female songwriting camp that I ran earlier this year. Together we can work to make it right and I’m committed to making a positive change. I’m so excited to see the opportunities that The F-List will create for women in the industry and it’s an honour to see Vick and her team launch such a wonderful project.

Find out more about The F-List HERE.