Country Fans Want Equal Radio Play for Female Artists, Study Concludes
A newly published study from CMT concludes that a majority of country music fans want equal radio airplay for female country artists, defying the long-held belief that women do not want to hear other women on country radio.
Coleman Insights compiled the new study, which CMT commissioned. The media research company's key findings fly directly in the face of a longstanding bias country radio has had toward female artists; in recent years, it's become more and more the accepted standard to focus on programming songs from male artists, mixing in fewer and fewer females in a trend that has been getting worse and worse for female country singers.
Coleman surveyed 1000 radio listeners between the ages of 25-54, specifically those who would rate a give station as “Love it and would listen all the time," “Like it a lot and would listen frequently” or “Like it and would listen occasionally.” They found that 7 in 10 listeners want more female artists in country music, and 84 percent want to see equal play for female artists. A 53 percent majority of listeners reported not having a gender preference.
Additionally, 44 percent of listeners would be "very interested" in a radio station that spotlights women, and 28 percent said they would listen to country radio more often if more females received more airplay. A majority answered that they would listen to the same amount as they do now, while just 11 percent would listen less if women were featured more.
The new study lands just one month after CMT announced it had committed to 50/50 equal play for female artists across all of its platforms, including CMT Radio, the CMT Next Women of Country showcase and tour, and a list of rising stars called CMT's Listen Up list. That news came one week after a segment on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee took on the topic of sexism in country music and the increasing inequality female artists have faced in recent years. Brandi Carlile, Margo Price, Tanya Tucker and Mickey Guyton all appeared in the segment, which received widespread attention from the Washington Post, NPR, Rolling Stone and more.
The women in country music debate has been a source of extensive discussion since the "Tomatogate" incident that rocked the genre in 2015, when radio consultant Keith Hill compared women in country music to the tomatoes on a salad. Hill said female artists should be a garnish for a radio diet that should consist mostly of male artists, adding that playing too many females leads to declining ratings.
Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles renewed focus on the issue with a fashion statement at the 2019 CMA Awards when she wore an outfit that sported the words, "Play our F---in' Records, Please & Thank You" on the front. The back bore a woman's face, the equality sign and the words "equal play."
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