Bluesfest director apologises for abusive online tirade
THE director of Byron Bay music festival Bluesfest has admitted to writing a tirade of abuse to someone who questioned the lack of female musicians playing next year's event.
The woman had labelled his Bluesfest 2019 line up a "sausage festival” due to a nearly all-male bill including headliners Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and George Clinton.
Only four female-led acts, including Kasey Chambers, were among almost 30 acts in the first announcement for next year's event in Byron Bay.
The male-heavy bill led to a social media campaign calling out Bluesfest's gender imbalance and the festival's poster winding up on Instagram page Line-ups Without Males, who remove all the male artist names to visually highlight how many women have been booked.
After she raised the issue on Bluefest's Facebook page Noble wrote to the Melbourne woman, who News Corp have not named, saying: "You attacking events without doing any research on them and starting a media campaign based on your own isms and schisms is the sort of thing that worked well in Nazi Germany”.
"Find someone to attack because you have a screw loose. Bet you are an under or underemployed white privileged nobody with too much time on your hands. Going nowhere fast into a life of depression and loneliness due to you having nothing meaningful to justify why you continue to breathe.”
Noble said he would personally apologise for writing the late night Facebook post, which some thought came from a member of Bluesfest staff, not the event's CEO.
"After working from 5am to 11.30pm that night I exploded on someone for calling me a sausage festival,” Noble said. "I shouldn't have done it, I will contact that person and apologise. It wasn't a member of my staff, I did it. It is what was done in Nazi Germany, you keep saying a bad thing about someone long enough until you polarise and pillory them until people start to act in the same manner.
"It's what Trump does. It's what Turnbull and Peter Dutton do towards the Sudanese. It's gutter politics, really low stuff. I shouldn't have said that to that person, I know that, I was just tired of being abused. I had no right to say that to that one person. I'm ashamed of what I did.
"I'm going to make it right with her. I've not been rude to anybody else. I tried debating but that didn't work. We pointed out we have twice as many females working in our office as men, and people said 'Yeah but they're out the back and nobody sees them'. My site manager is female. The industry isn't just for people strutting on our stage. Why are there less women taking part in the music industry, on stage, than men? That should be the question. There's less choices of female acts from booking agents and managers for people like me to book.”
Activist group Listen lashed out at Bluesfest saying: "You have shown women and non binary musicians that they don't deserve a spot, and if they do, they are not worth getting announced first. All FOUR acts you have included with women in them are white. Where is the celebration and platforming of the black women who BUILT this genre of music? We'll wait for the list of excuses.”
Noble said the reaction to the first instalment of Bluesfest 2019 was unlike anything he had ever seen.
"I have never been as abused as much in my entire 50 year career in the music industry for something I feel I've had very little to be at cause of. People are calling me a sausagefest, saying I'm a boring old man who should get out of the music business and let some people who care come in. The word 'f---' was used against me many times.
"There is an under representation of women across the entire music industry. Look at who is playing in your town tonight and see how many female to male acts are playing at your local venue. To say it's a festival issue is to not look at what's happening.
"It's sad, but we don't get asked to put on too many female artists at Bluesfest. We do surveys and (requests for) female artists (from punters) come in at about 10-per-cent. I still put on 25-to-30-per-cent female acts. When Patti Smith headlined two years ago I think it was pretty much equal (men to women). But to do that you have to really go out there and find female acts, because they're not coming to me through their agents and managers at a level that the male ones are. There are more males out there on the road than female. These are the root causes. Why blame the festivals when many of them are actually booking quite diverse events?”
Noble makes no apologies for how he selects the bands to play his festival.
"What I've always booked at Bluesfest, and will always book, is an artist based on their ability, not on their gender or colour. When you look back on past years or what we roll out in the next announcement for next year, the amount of men and women on my festival is not booked on a quota system it's booked on a talent system and of course what's available. I shouldn't have to defend myself and say it'll be better in the next announcement. It'll be the best acts I can find, it doesn't matter if they're male or female.”
Bluesfest, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, runs over five days around Easter in Byron Bay.
"I put on the event out of my own money. The vast majority of people support what you do of course, it's had an incredible reaction, we're selling lots of tickets.”