Country Radio Still Playing the Same Old Song When It Comes to (Not) Playing Female Artists, Study Finds

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A caller study solidifies nan belief that state power has agelong been reluctant to play songs from women successful wide — and almost ne'er plays 2 women artists back-to-back.

The study, by Jan Diehm of The Pudding and Dr. Jada Watson, is titled They Won’t Play a Lady-O connected Country Radio: Examining Back-to-Back Plays by Gender, Race and Sexual Orientation. It pulls from nan regular logs of 29 state power stations successful ample marketplace areas, analyzing 24-hour programming successful each period of 2022 to spot really often listeners of those stations could expect to perceive back-to-back songs by women, artists of colour and LGBTQ+ artists. Among nan state power stations included successful nan study were KKGO (Los Angeles), WUSN (Chicago), KKBQ and KILT (Houston), WKDF (Nashville) and WMZQ (Washington, DC).

The study recovered that astatine these stations, songs from women state artists were played back-to-back an mean of 0.5% of nan time. In information that is accordant pinch SongData’s findings regarding daypart programming, nan mostly of these back-to-back plays (46.1%) occurred successful overnights (between midnight and 6 a.m.), while 19% were played during evening hours (between 7 p.m. and midnight) — clip periods pinch little listenership. In nan intro to nan study, an anecdotal sample is given, noting that if 1 had tuned into a peculiar (unnamed) position astatine 8:35 a.m. connected Jan. 7, 2022, it would person taken complete 9 hours earlier proceeding 2 consecutive songs from female artists.

“If you perceive to this position non-stop from midnight to 11:59 p.m. today, you’d apt only perceive 3 back-to-back songs by women, compared to 245 from men,” nan study states.

“We’ve heard for galore years that songs by women should not beryllium programmed back-to-back — arsenic we opportunity successful nan study, it’s been portion of manufacture rhetoric since astatine slightest nan 1960s and was moreover written into programming manuals,” Watson tells Billboard via email. “But it’s 1 of those issues that is spoken astir anecdotally and now we person this study to show not conscionable that it’s true, but conscionable really bleak it is for women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists astatine radio.”

The caller study builds upon Watson’s earlier work, including her March 2021 study, Redlining successful Country Music: Representation successful nan Country Music Industry (2000-2020), and an updated type released earlier this year.

“As a listener, it’s beautiful easy to prime up connected nan bias successful state power erstwhile you tin walk 20 minutes successful your car and spell without proceeding a azygous opus by a woman, fto unsocial back-to-back songs by women,” Diehm tells Billboard via email. “So, I was expecting nan worst, but it was truthful overmuch worse than that. My hometown position is San Antonio (KCYY-FM), nan position we utilized successful nan intro of nan portion — [and] you cognize it’s bad erstwhile you commencement to deliberation of a position that plays women back-to-back astatine 0.99% arsenic 1 of nan ‘better’ stations.”

Diehm added that while compiling nan study, she and Watson brought successful statistic professor Sara Stoudt, who ran 1,000 “coin-flip” simulations for each of nan stations represented. “Even erstwhile accounting for nan already debased complaint of plays for women, 17 of nan 29 stations played less women’s songs back-to-back than you would expect them to if nan plays were near up to chance,” she continues. “Not that I needed convincing, but it proved moreover further that these were perfectly programming decisions and not thing that stations could talk themselves retired of. That one-two punch of qualitative stories and quantitative information mightiness conscionable thief move nan needle.”

Moreover, nan mostly of songs from women that are played back-to-back are not existent singles. “Gold catalog” songs (songs that are respective years old) dress up 36.2% of nan back-to-back songs played by women, while recurrents (songs that person reached their highest connected nan station’s playlist but are still portion of nan station’s programming) relationship for 43.7%. Meanwhile, existent singles from women artists accounted for conscionable 20.1% of nan mini percent of back-to-back airplay for songs performed by women.

The effect of existent euphony from women being absent from state power creates a harmful spiral that impacts different areas of women artists’ careers. It leads to less women signing to grounds labels, less women earning capacity opportunities connected awesome tours, festivals and awards ceremonial slots and less women receiving awards nominations, nan study asserts.

“It creates a civilization wherever women are competing only against different women for an already teeny mini magnitude of slots,” Diehm says. “Playing only ‘gold songs’ by women artists besides intends that you’re freezing them successful time, not allowing them to turn aliases evolve, because eden forbid we fto a female summation aliases clasp power.”

Songs by women of colour and LGBTQ+ artists were played moreover little connected state power — earning little than 1% of airplay past year. Songs by female artists wide earned 11% of past year’s airplay, pinch 10.97% of that debased percent of airplay going to achromatic women and only 0.03% to Black and biracial women. The study further notes that only six solo Black women and 1 group of Black women person classed connected state power charts since 1958. Meanwhile, LGBTQIA+ artists received just 0.13% of airplay successful 2022.

“The barroom for introduction is precocious for caller women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists. And past we’re near pinch this believe successful which power supports 1 female astatine a clip — and that long for which achromatic women are supported is becoming shorter,” Watson says. She adds that from astir 2005 to 2014, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift received “sustained” support from power and were responsible for a whopping 83% of nan No. 1 songs by women during that play — and 55% of No. 1 songs by women complete nan past 2 decades successful total.

While nan supra women artists still person airplay (and Swift has transitioned to pop), Watson notes that since 2015, newer women artists for illustration Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce and Lainey Wilson person received only “short periods of support,” adding that “the manufacture only lets 1 win astatine a time…This is simply a civilization that limits abstraction for achromatic women and past tosses retired their euphony erstwhile it’s peaked connected nan charts. They don’t moreover unfastened nan doorway to BIPOC women and LGBTQ+ artists.”

The study besides offers humanities insight, showing really female practice connected state power (specifically cataloged by Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart) roseate from 6.5% successful 1958 to a highest of 33.1% successful 1999 (a clip erstwhile nan floor plan was based only connected power airplay). But successful nan decades that followed, charting songs by women artists plummeted to a debased of 11.4% successful 2015 (the aforesaid twelvemonth that power advisor Keith Hill made his now-infamous comments that compared female artists to nan “tomatoes” successful a male-dominated “salad”). The study notes that complete nan past 7 years, nan percent of charting songs by female artists has averaged conscionable 15%.

Though nan Hot Country Songs floor plan now incorporates information beyond conscionable power airplay, nan study shows that nan numbers from nan early 2000s correlate to Mediabase airplay data, which was utilized to cipher back-to-back rates of airplay successful nan study.

Going forward, Watson plans to proceed studying nan state power format but is besides willing successful “thinking much broadly astir nan distribution ecosystem and exploring personification engagement pinch Spotify’s recommender system.” She has besides embarked connected studying nan Triple A format, which she notes has “a overmuch different strategy for programming and is simply a format that has been a awesome launching pad for caller artists of each genres.”

“Country euphony whitethorn beryllium nan closest to my heart,” Watson adds, “but examining practice successful power programming and charts of different formats is really important for knowing really these genre systems developed complete clip and activity together wrong nan larger manufacture ecosystem. Country isn’t nan only format pinch these forms of inequity.”

Billboard has reached retired for remark to a number of power chains pinch state stations and will update nan communicative arsenic they respond.

Source International