Should the festivals advertise all their acts equally? And why it might be important than you first thought

So, the festivals are on their way back. The world is taking some steps forward following Covid-19 – not that this is over, mind you – and people are trying to look forward to some sort of normality resuming. In some ways, it’s good to see it.

There are, of course, issues. Plague rave DJs being seemingly rewarded with festival work is a bugbear of mine. The total lack of progress regards having more female artists, more black artists and such on the bill is another. Dweller Forever know a lot more about this than me, and wrote all about it.

Here’s a different one. On the surface, it’s not quite as important as the other issues – but ironically, more progress is being made and it could turn out to be a good thing in the long term. It’s about the promotion of festivals, and nightclubs too.

I’m specifically talking here about their flyers. Now you’ve probably seen this one doing the rounds in the past…

A piss take? Clearly. But this has been the style of flyer that’s been in fashion for years. The most well-known names at the top, with names getting smaller as they went down the list.

This design came about mostly due to two reasons, from what I’ve been able to gather from discussions with designers. First is the fact that festivals were becoming so big and had so many acts on – smaller text was the only way to squeeze them all in.

Second was the fact that the flyers wanted to draw people in with the names at the top. Why they were at the top varied – it could be a reflection of the fact their name pulled in ticket sales, it could be an indication they were getting a big pay cheque or it could be their contract stipulating their name was in the biggest letters possible.

One thing that seems to have changed during the pandemic, however, is that this design of flyer is not as prevalent as it used to be. Take this one for Defected in Croatia…

This is pretty good. There’s not actually much difference between the font sizes and everyone is listed alphabetically. I’ve had my criticisms of Defected in the past, but praise where praise is due.

The best one I’ve seen lately, though? It has to be this one.

It’s easy to find whether your favourite DJ, producer, singer or whatever is performing when everything is in the same size and alphabetically listed. It also happens to be a very internet friendly format – few things are more off-putting than having to squint into a mobile phone screen to read something, I think.

So why do I think this change will be important in the long run? Simple. It makes it easier to establish who’s on and helps make it easier to see whether this is the meritocracy that dance music slogans aplenty would have you believe.

Whilst no suggestions are being made here about the festivals in the flyers, we all know that dance music is largely dominated by white men. And whilst no one is saying the young black men who created this genre wanted to ghettoise it, I suspect they had much more diversity in mind than what we have now.

Now it’s time for the systematic changes behind the scenes. And sadly, this is a task beyond the ability of even the most gifted graphic designer…