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Does US Country Radio Have A Woman Problem?

January 12, 2024 3:58 pm in by

Advocacy group The Women Of Country has shared a stark carousel of images on Instagram based on information pulled from Billboard’s 2023 Country Airplay Chart.

Reviewing the statistics from throughout last year, The Women Of Country found that 88.5% of artists that dominated the Billboard Country Airplay Chart in 2023 were solo male artists, while only 5.75% were solo female acts. Another 5.75% were male/female collaborations.

Women Of Country pointed out that Lainey Wilson was the only solo female artist to have a #1 last year. In addition to that fact, she’s the first female artist since 2016 to gain multiple #1s in a calendar year and the first solo female artist in two years to have a #1 single (Watermelon Moonshine). Wilson was also the only woman in the top 20 of Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart for five consecutive weeks.

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Elsewhere, the carousel revealed that Wilson and Katelyn Brown were the only female artists to score #1 songs in 2023 – Katelyn landed a #1 for her collaborative number with her husband, Kane Brown, Thank God.

Women Of Country captioned the post, “Another year, another male-dominated country airplay chart. These numbers aren’t bad, they’re CRIMINAL!! Radio stations, #PlayMoreWomen and we promise people will listen We’ve heard the songs (they’re fantastic), we’ve worked with the artists (they’ve done the work), and we’ve met the fans (they’re there and hungry for something new). All you gotta do is PLAY MORE WOMEN”.

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Looking at Australian country radio, it’s clear that we can do better, too.

In the Countrytown Hot 50 Radio Songs of 2023, there are ten songs starring women, four by female artists in Australia and New Zealand (Kaylee Bell, Taylor Moss, Sara Berki and Hudson Rose). International heavy hitters, including Lainey Wilson, Carrie Underwood, MacKenzie Porter, Katelyn Brown, Priscilla Block (with Justin Moore) and Hailey Whitters, also feature.

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It’s worth noting that in the KIX Hottest 50, the most-played songs of 2023, 20 of the acts featured on the list are either solo females or artists with female members.

Justin Thomson, the Country National Content Director at KIX, tells Countrytown that programming for the station isn’t necessarily about meeting a gender equality quota but acknowledging that women in country music are making great music that needs to be heard.

“I don't look at it so much as what percentage of each gender we should play. A good song is a good song, and the girls are kicking goals,” Thomson said. “In our programming, we have quite a heavy male announcer/voiceover sound, so the balance of male announcers and IDs into female songs works for us.”

Thomson added, “There are a lot of quality, hard-working female artists in this genre; they deserve and should receive just as much airplay as the next guy.”

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