Equal Play radio research proves country fans want more women played

CMT & Coleman Insights release research that prove 84% of listeners want equal play for female artists

CMT and Coleman Insights have released first of its kind research unveiling unprecedented insights into country radio listeners habits and attitudes toward female artists. Debunking long-perpetuated myths claiming both female and male listeners don’t want to hear female voices, CMT’s Equal Play Radio Research proves they want equal play for female artists on country radio, as well as more female artists in the genre they helped to build.

Commissioned by CMT Insights, data from Coleman Insights reveals that not only do 84% of listeners want equal play for women on radio, but seven out of ten want more female artists in the genre. Listeners reported they would even seek out country radio more if women were specifically highlighted, with 28% saying they would listen to radio more if additional female artists were featured, versus 11% who would listen less.

“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’” states Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, Music & Talent, CMT. “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.”

While it may be common knowledge among industry insiders that more male artists are played on country radio than female, listeners were polled for the first time to uncover whether or not they recognized the bias. The data proves the understanding to be nearly universal, with 72% of country listeners reporting they hear more songs sung by men on country radio, with no differences shown in gender or age.

Contrary to popular belief, CMT’s Equal Play Radio Research indicates that a majority of fans are indeed open to hearing female voices, with 53% reporting no gender preference when it comes to artists. Listeners also heavily acknowledge (88%) the pivotal role females have played in country music’s history, a theme that is reiterated in additional research released earlier this week by University of Ottawa’s Dr. Jada Watson.

“This tells us country music fans want to hear good songs period,” Fram continues. “But it also tells us that we are training listeners not to hear female voices. Without creating an equal playing field, fans don’t know what they are missing. This is about a balance of gender and diversity. It’s essential for all voices to be heard.”

The specific findings of the study will be discussed at an industry panel ahead of Country Radio Seminar (CRS) in Nashville on Tuesday, February 18th. The research overview will be conducted by Sam Milkman, Executive Vice President and Senior Consultant, Coleman Insights and will be followed by a panel moderated by CMT’s Leslie Fram with Milkman, Dr. Jada E. Watson, Cody Alan (Host & Executive Producer, CMT Radio), Cris Lacy (Senior Vice President, A&R, Warner Music Nashville) and Mike Molinar (General Manager, Big Machine Music).

This marks the official kick-off of CMT Equal Play campaign, the brand’s year-long initiative to create measurable industry-wide action to dramatically increase female representation in country music and create a path for parity in 2020. Last month, CMT pledged 50/50 video airplay parity for female and male artists across CMT and CMT Music channels. CMT Radio followed suit by announcing CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan would also be implementing 50/50, a 100% increase in female airplay on their weeknight shows airing 7 pm-midnight.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.