Many of the top artists in country music are slamming country radio and calling out the largely male-dominated industry for unfair practices.
On Thursday, Michigan radio station 98 FM KCQ tweeted and then deleted the statement “we cannot play two females back to back” much to the outrage of several female singers, including Kelsea Ballerini, who shared the station’s tweet on Instagram.
“To all the ladies that bust their asses to have half the opportunities that men do, I’m really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules. It’s unfair and it’s incredibly disappointing,” Ballerini, 26, responded on Twitter.
The singer further spoke out about her stance on the matter with a lengthy caption on Instagram, stressing the “inequality in airplay for women” on the radio.
“I say this having been one of the few women who have been really embraced by country radio and having watched some of the bigger networks (and some of my friends that are [program directors] and high up) make real changes in their programming to make it look more balanced. I am grateful. BUT. There is still inequality in airplay for women,” Ballerini said.
“And tweets like this prove it. And it’s my job to say it out loud and post about it, because of the girls moving to Nashville (or wherever) that are ready to outrun and outwork and outplay everyone. They deserve to know that they have the same shot as the guys moving here to do the same,” she continued. “Country music- We have to fix this. For us and for them. How do we do it? Let’s talk. (Also- don’t lash out at this station, they are playing by rules set for them from their higher ups 😞).”
Fellow female artists, including Danielle Bradbery, Lindsay Ell, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, Julianne Hough, Jennifer Nettles, Carly Pearce, Cassadee Pope, Maddie & Tae and Jamie Lynn Spears, flooded Ballerini’s comments section to express their disdain.
“The only thing these men are good at is making themselves look like bigger p—–s than all of ours combined,” Kacey Musgraves commented.
“Yes girl!!!!! Take a stand and plant your flag. Let me know how I can help,” Hough wrote.
Producer and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder also wrote, “This is insane !!!!!! This has to change immediately.”
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Ballerini hasn’t been the only star advocating for more female representation in country radio as of late. From Carrie Underwood to Martina McBride to Sara Evans and Maren Morris, many have continued to publicly condemn the gender imbalance and disparity.
A 2019 study from Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reported that only 16 percent of the top 500 country songs from 2014 to 2018 were sung by women.
Another recent study, conducted between 2000 to 2018, found that women got increasingly less airtime than men on country radio. To put it in numbers, in 2000, women held 33.3 percent of the top 150 songs of the year, but by 2018, they held only 11.3 percent — a shocking decline of 66 percent.