THOUGHTS…WOMEN & COUNTRY RADIO
I’ve added a thoughts section to the blog because I may not always want to talk about a specific song or album. I had another name for this section, but it probably wouldn’t be to appropriate for the blog. Pretty much, I made this section to speak my mind about anything music related.
I want to kick it off with something that I’ve wanted to write about for quite a while now. And that is, women and country radio. It’s a topic people tend to stray away from because it can be a highly controversial topic.
An interview by Country Aircheck, with Keith Hill, was published about a year ago. Hill has been regarded as a leading authority on music scheduling. In the interview, Hill made some bold claims about women and country radio.
He said, “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out…they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
This statement of course set a firestorm, understandably, among female artists. Among those that spoke out were Jennifer Nettles who said, “I see an opportunity here. A Big ole vagina shaped opportunity.” Martina McBride made a statement on social media, in a post that reads, “Wow…..just wow. Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I’m really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being “assessed” in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm….”
Throughout the course of the last year, and prior to, there’s been a big push for more females to be played on country radio. So where do we stand a year later? Well, I can tell you, by looking at the top 20 songs for this week, it doesn’t look good. This week, there are two female solo artists in the top 20. (Not cracking the top 10.) However, I must point out, there is a duet in the top 10 but is male driven lead single.
You know, when I first started working in country radio, I was told that women don’t test well on country radio so they don’t get played as often. To be told that in small town Vermont, really shows you how much this is impacting the industry nationwide.
Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Taylor Swift are among the only female artists to achieve major success on Country radio in recent years. Now that Swift has shed her country roots for a more pop oriented sound, new artists like Kelsea Ballerini are beginning to shine through with radio success.
I read an article that pointed out “the demographic for country music is predominantly female,” which could be argued that if radio played more from female artists that it would appeal to women more. But the article pointed out that part of it is finding and marketing male artists that the audience will find more attractive.
The other part is the financial aspect. It’s not up to country radio to provide listeners with the highest-quality songs in our genre. The point of radio is to draw as many listeners to the station as possible and to keep them listening as long as possible.
I want to point out the career of Kacey Musgraves. Back in 2013, Musgraves broke out with her top 10 single “Merry Go Round.” This helped he debut album go No.1 on the Billboard chart. Which is one of the most incredible albums I have ever heard. There is maybe one song on the album that I don’t really care for. Her second single missed the top 20 and her third single stalled outside the top 40. Since then, her latest releases have failed to make the chart and mainstream country radio airplay.
In 2014, Cassadee Pope and Maddie & Tae, were the only two women not named Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert to reach the top 10 on the airplay chart. And 2015, has seen the raise of Ballernini with her two top singles, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” and “Dibs.”
Overall, I think it’s completely ridiculous that women don’t get as much credit for their work through airplay on country radio. I do think just about anybody would tell you that the women of country are just as if not more talented than the men on country radio. As I’ve done some reading, I took a look at the comments under some of the articles. I particularly like how one guy phrased it, “It’s not about the person singing the song. It’s about the song itself.” Isn’t that what we should be looking for in music? Shouldn’t we be connecting our audiences with the songs that mean something to them versus caring about the image we set fourth?
I’m sure I’ll talk more about this down the road. Especially when it comes to talking about the state of country music and where we are today. There’s a lot to be said and I know I didn’t cover it all here. But you have to start somewhere. What I want you to take away from this is: don’t be afraid to explore. If you hear something you like, dig deeper. There are so many talented musicians in this world that you’ll never hear on the radio. So when you dig deep and find one of those musicians, hang onto them. They need your support.