Most Country Listeners Want Equal Play for Female Artists, New Study Reports
A new study released by CMT and Coleman Insights on Tuesday (Feb. 18) shows that the bulk of country listeners want to hear more women on the radio. These findings directly contradict to the long-upheld myth that women don't want to hear women, a theory that's gathered steam among country radio programmers since the '90s.
The new data, commissioned by CMT and compiled by Coleman Insights, comes from a survey of 1,000 radio listeners aged 24-54. It shows that 84 percent of listeners would like to see equal play for female artists on the radio. Additionally, 28 percent of participating listeners stated that they would seek out country radio more if more artists were featured, whereas 11 percent said they would listen to the radio less.
Furthermore, seven out of 10 listeners polled said they'd like to see more female artists in the genre as a whole, and 88 percent acknowledged the important role women have played in the history of country music. Fifty-three percent of those polled stated that they have no preference when it comes to an artist's gender.
"The age-old myth that 'women don't want to hear women' has led to a multitude of unproven claims about female voices on the air, including 'you can't play two women back to back' or 'ratings drop when you play women,'" CMT Senior Vice President of Music & Talent Leslie Fram explains in a press release. "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," Fram adds, "and women do want to hear women on the radio."
Though the gender divide in country radio is a hot topic among those in the music industry, the new study also showed that listeners are aware of the imbalance on their radios. Seventy-two percent of the listeners polled reported hearing more songs by male artists.
In January, CMT pledged to institute 50/50 video play for male and female artists on all CMT platforms (the company's previous ratio of male/female artists was 60/40). Helmed by Fram, CMT's initiatives toward gender equality have long led in the way in the industry: Just days before the 50/50 pledge was announced, Fram appeared in a clip on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee that highlighted the problem of inequality at country radio.
CMT also supports women in country music through its Next Women of Country franchise, which highlights and supports a new crop of rising artists each year. Corresponding to that effort is the annual CMT Next Women of Country Tour; this year's lineup is helmed by Tanya Tucker and features a group of current and former NWoC class members.
7 Women We Want to Hear on Country Radio