Music

New Study Shows That Listeners Want to Hear More Women on Country Radio

Sara Evans, center, performs "Born to Fly" as Karen Fairchild, from left, Kimberly Schlapman, Jennifer Nettles, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood look on at the 53rd annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

During a Feb. 18 kick-off event for the CMT Equal Play initiative, representatives from Coleman Insights shared numbers reflecting how country music fans feel about the lack of female voices on country radio.

Coleman Insights' CMT-commissioned data finds that 84 percent of the 1,000 country radio listeners surveyed want equal play for women, with seven out of 10 wanting more female artists in the genre. Of those questioned, 28 percent would still listen to their favorite country radio station if its playlist represented a more equal playing field, while a mere 11 percent would listen less if local radio stations offered more airtime to women.

"The age-old myth that 'women don't want to hear women' has led to a multitude of unproven public claims about female voices on the air, including 'you can't play two women back-to-back' or 'ratings drop when you play women'" said Leslie Fram, CMT's Senior Vice President of Music & Talent. "When we approached Coleman Insights about this specific line of research, we were shocked to learn no one had ever commissioned data on the listeners themselves. CMT took it directly to the fans and what we found couldn't have been more clear: listeners want equal play and women do want to hear women on the radio."

A day earlier, Dr. Jada E. Watson of the University of Ottawa and SongData revealed numbers which showed that women accounted for around 10 percent of 2019's radio spins and weekly and year-end spots on Mediabase and Billboard charts.

In a lengthy article she wrote for NBC, Watson concluded that "women were so overwhelmingly underrepresented in 2019 that it was likely that listeners could tune-in to their local station for over an hour and not hear a single song by a woman."

Fram and Watson spoke at CMT's Equal Play event alongside Coleman Insights' Sam Milkman and Jessica Lichtenfeld. CMT Radio's Cody Alan, Warner Music Nashville's Cris Lacy and Big Machine Music's Mike Molinar also addressed airplay issues facing women artists.

Read More: Country Radio Seminar 2020: The 8 Best Things We Saw

CMT set an example for the rest of the music industry in January when its Equal Play initiative promised a 50/50 split between male and female artists for music videos played on CMT channels.

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New Study Shows That Listeners Want to Hear More Women on Country Radio