Viacom-owned cable television network CMT (Country Music Television) challenged gatekeepers and encouraged talented women with the Jan. 21 announcement of its Equal Play initiative. Per a Jan. 21 tweet, "music video hours on CMT and CMT Music channels will have complete parity between male and female artists. That means 50/50. #CMTEqualPlay"
CMT's role as a potential agent of change should come as no surprise. The senior vice president of music strategy for CMT, Leslie Fram, has been a vocal and visible proponent of equal airplay on country radio for not just solo women but also co-ed groups (Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, etc.). Fram and her colleagues also play a role in the CMT Next Women of Country franchise, which has done everything from predict the rises of Kacey Musgraves and Kelsea Ballerini to position living legend Tanya Tucker to headline an all-women tour.
The country music channel's new initiative follows an episode of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee that exposed a long-running struggle to a national audience through a healthy mix of humor and cold hard facts.
The fight is on for equal play of female artists by country radio stations! @TheSheerTruth and @Amy_Hoggart met up with Tanya Tucker, @MickeyGuyton, @BrandiCarlile, @FramLeslie, and @MissMargoPrice to discuss how to fix the industry. #NoCountryForOnlyMen https://t.co/o8tJqoDa3e pic.twitter.com/W4O2f9EvIl
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) January 20, 2020
Men with no trouble getting airplay with or without a 50/50 split took to social media to champion CMT's decision. Jimmie Allen merely tweeted "Love this!!!, while Jake Owen went way more in-depth with his endorsement.
"We, as the men of country music are ALL FOR 'equal play,'" Owen wrote. "I have many artists friends that are women and I have two little girls. Also, one of my fave artists is (Musgraves) even bought a sweatshirt at her show. Gonna (sleep) in it."
"This is what leadership looks like," read a tweet posted by the Song Suffragettes. "Nice job (CMA and Leslie Fram)! Let's get more people in power on board to bring more opportunities for women; whether that's touring, radio, publishing, management etc. It takes a village, let's go Nashville!!"