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Men Still Dominate Country Radio Airplay, Distressing Study Reveals


Another newly-released study tells us what we already know, yet most do not still acknowledge: women are still grossly underrepresented on country radio.

study, Kacey Musgraves, Kacey, Musgraves, country radio
via Getty Images/Kevin Winter/ PopSugar

It’s a problem where female artists have gotten more vocal about in the past few years, with heavy hitters such as Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Maren Morris trying their best to address the issue and shoving it in the limelight.

The Distressing Study

A new study entitled “Gender Representation On Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018” looked at a wide array of data points, revealing a disparity between the airplay men and female country artists receive. It’s not fresh news that women are being treated unfairly, but the eyebrow-raising new study reveals that the problem is, in fact, getting significantly worse.

Data scientist Jada E. Watson, in partnership with the Women of Music Association Network in Nashville, have compiled an alarming report that shows that country radio really favors men regarding airplay.

The rate of airplay for women went from 33.3% to only just 11.3%. It hit the lowest point in 2014 when women earned only 7.3% of total air time. This would mean that the ratio becomes 44:1, the study finds. You need to get through 44 songs by men first before hearing a woman’s on country radio.

Carrie Underwood, Opry, study, country radio
via Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry

The study further reveals that the most-played artist at country radio from 2000-2018 is Kenny Chesney. He has earned well over 6 million spins. In contrast to Carrie Underwood, the most-played female artist during the same period, who only earned a little more than 3 million spins.

Other Studies Say The Same Thing

In an article published by NPR, the University of South California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released a study on the gender gap in country music.

Studies show that only 16 percent of country artists are female, and only 12 percent of country songwriters are women. The team also notes that when these women find success, they achieve it when they are in their younger years.

“Not one of the top-performing women was over the age of 40. While all but one of country’s top-performing men had reached or exceeded that age.”

Studies also show that the average age of top female artist is 29; while for me, the average is 42.

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