In a new interview, Kacey Musgraves talks about the sexism she’s seen within the music industry during her career.
During her discussion with Music Week, Musgraves shared her perspective on the issues within the world of country radio.
“Most of the world probably has a sexism problem, but yeah, there’s still definitely one that exists in country music,” Musgraves explained. “Don’t get me wrong, there are good people in country music all over that don’t have that mentality, but there are other people that do act like that.”
In the wake of the Kirt Webster and Harvey Weinstein scandals, more artists and others within the music industry have come forward with their stories of harassment and inappropriate conduct from other powerful entities in the genre. A groundbreaking article from Rolling Stone recently laid out multiple accounts from people who have encountered misconduct within the radio world.
Although some within the industry have argued that this behavior is rarely seen, Musgraves notes that country music is not immune to sexual harassment, misconduct and sexism.
“I’ve noticed it first hand for sure, whether it’s being told a certain song won’t work because I’m a female, or a DJ on air asking if he can touch my legs… Whether you’re in country or not, those people exist everywhere.”
Musgraves also discusses the power dynamics between women artists and male program directors, who can make or break musicians by choosing who to play on their stations.
“There’s definitely a massive extra pressure on females in country music to be more accommodating, more friendly to the PDs at radio stations,” she continued. “That same pressure is not applied to men. And it can count against you negatively if you don’t live up to those expectations in some areas.”
Hundreds of major players in radio gathered at the 2018 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville last month, but it was highlighted as a missed opportunity for discussion on harassment.
Katie Armiger, a country artist who has spoken openly about being pressured by her label to flirt with program directors and other important people in radio, is also among the few artists who have opted to publicly push this discussion forward.
Armiger made her first public appearance on March 5 in Nashville to discuss HB 1984/SB 2130, legislation created to protect victims of harassment who do not have traditional employee statuses. Many in the music industry who work as contractors or are signed to labels find themselves unprotected when faced with sexual or other types of workplace harassment.
During her statement, Armiger discussed the inappopriate conduct she encountered, which included “innuendos and crude comments to outright unwanted touching.”
“Not only was it confusing, but it was humiliating,” she explained. “This was happening at the hands of powerful and influential professionals that I was supposed to impress with my music. Like many, I was told that it all was just being part of the business.”
Country music still has a long way to go when it comes to directly addressing harassment and inequality, but Musgraves’ choice to speak out shows that the genre’s longstanding veil of silence is slowly lifting.