Los Angeles — Many of the top-selling artists in country music are women, but superstars are still fighting for time on country music radio stations.
Country music artist Lindsay Ell is a victim of that unspoken rule — that radio stations play a limited number of songs by female artists, and definitely not back-to-back.
"I really think this whole problem of ratios, of males to females being played on country radio, rolls back to the record labels," Ell said.
Labels have power in a genre where radio is essential to building a fan base. A new study by Country Music Television — a division of ViacomCBS — backs Ell's claim. It found that 7 in 10 country radio listeners want to hear more female artists. But only 10% of airtime is dedicated to them.
When Los Angeles' only country music radio station recently played Gabby Barrett and Kelsea Ballerini back-to-back, a firestorm exploded on social media. Variety reporter Chris Willman jokingly tweeted, "Can't they get fined for that?"
"I was taken aback like I just saw a unicorn. You can't play two women back to back on country radio," Willman said.
Country music's brightest female stars quickly chimed in. "Smells like white male bull****," tweeted Kacey Musgraves, "And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back."
"This conversation is far above male versus female. It's about music," Ell said.
Country Music Television is now committed to making sure 50% of its videos are performed by female artists.
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