Carrie Underwood & Kellie Pickler Speak Out On Country Radio’s Treatment Of Women

Since her emergence in 2005, country superstar and season 4 American Idol champ Carrie Underwood has been the most consistent female at country radio. Every single one of her 18 officially promoted singles to country radio has made the top 2 and 17 out of those 18 singles have hit #1 on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart. If you look at the Billboard Country Airplay chart, which has been around since January 20, 1990, Carrie Underwood has notched 12 solo #1 hits (13 if you count “Remind Me,” her duet with Brad Paisley, with her other 5 official singles reaching #2), more than any other female in that chart’s existence (Reba is 2nd with 11 solo #1s, but Reba also had 13 solo #1s prior to 1990). This success comes in the same era that hasn’t seen a solo country female back up her 1st solo t10 country hit with another t10 country hit since Miranda Lambert did in late 2009 (when “White Liar” became her 2nd t10 hit after “Gunpowder & Lead.”). It also comes in an era when the last time a solo female backed up her 1st solo t20 country hit with a 2nd consecutive t20 country hit was in 2007, when Lambert, Kellie Pickler, and Taylor Swift all pulled off the same feat.

Therefore, when Carrie Underwood speaks up about country radio and on the issue of how steep an uphill climb it is for women on the format, her comments reflect the thoughts of the format’s most relevant female of the past decade. So, what does Carrie have to say?

In a new interview with Phyllis Stark of Billboard, Carrie makes pointed comments about the number of talented women trying to break into the format, the unbalanced treatment of new females compared new males, *and* how the dominance of what New York mag’s Jody Rosen calls “bro country” (see: here and here) seems to be working against women at country radio. Carrie observes:

“There is certainly not a shortage of talented ladies out there that want so badly to get their fair shot in this business. But there seems to be only room for only a few…there seem to be so many male singers out there who can be viewed as similar, and there seems to be plenty of room for all of them.”

After 2013 saw plenty of new bros like Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldredge, and Tyler Farr hitting #1 while the closest any new female got to the top of the airplay charts was Kacey Musgraves’s #10-peaking “Merry Go Round,” Carrie talks about the difference while crediting American Idol for her own breakout:

“We see new male artists have their first single reach No. 1 on the charts, but it generally takes a female a lot longer to build momentum. I know that I am an exception to this, but I [also] know that if I hadn’t made my place in country music via ‘American Idol,’ I probably could have tried to make it for the rest of my life and never made any progress.”

Not only did Carrie arrive at country radio with a big fanbase, she also arrived with national name recognition and a certain amount of audience familiarity, which may have helped her weather what she describes as the extra level of scrutiny to which females are subjected:

“It seems women are expected to be so much more than men, which means we have to work that much harder. We’re the ones under the microscope. We’re expected to sound perfect. We’re expected to look perfect all the time. We’re expected to be style-setters, whereas the boys roll onto the stage in their jeans, T-shirts and baseball caps.”

Sound familiar? That’s a parallel to many a discussion we’ve had here at MJ’s about the reign of the WGWG on American Idol.

Picking up on her comments about the format supporting an abudance of “male singers…who can be viewed as similar,” Carrie also responds to a question about the dominance of “bro country” songs at country radio in a time when women are singing about wider and deeper slices of life:

“I don’t think women can get away with the partying, beer-drinking, hung-over, truck-driving kind of music that a lot of the guys have gotten away with lately.”

Country star/Season 16 Dancing With The Stars champ/Season 5 American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler, who has had 6 career t20 country hits (based on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart) but hasn’t seen the t20 of the airplay charts since 2009 despite widespread critical acclaim for her last 2 albums, agrees and also points out that the women who do get airplay pick up more sales per spin than their male counterparts:

“It does kind of seem like it’s a big party right now. All the women that are played [on the radio] are outselling the men, and people are listening to what they have to say, so I don’t know why more women aren’t played.”

Kellie is right about the women who do get radio support outselling the guys. Consider Kacey Musgraves, who has sold 315k copies of her critically-acclaimed and now Grammy-winning album, Same Trailer, Different Park off 1 t10 country hit, another single that peaked in the t25, and another that didn’t make the t40. Musgraves had the highest first week and total sales of any mainstream country act releasing a debut country album in 2013, far outpacing new and even some better-established acts with more radio support, including Eldredge, Randy Houser, Rhett, Farr, and more. Just last week, Jennifer Nettles (who, just to be fair, is known from multi-platinum act Sugarland, which hadn’t released a new album since 2010’s Incredible Machine), opened with 54k in 1st week sales for an album whose lead single barely made t40, exceeding the first week sales of hitmakers like Chris Young (who released his latest album on September 17, 2013), Billy Currington (who also released his latest album on September 17, 2013), and Jake Owen (who released his album on December 3, 2013).

Country singer-songwriter Suzy Bogguss, who was part of the 1990s wave of female artists who were able to break through in a time when country radio was much more open to new women, also contributes criticism of today’s bro country overload and talks about the importance of female listeners speaking up and demanding songs that speak to their lives. That’s a point Carrie had previously made in her September 2008 Allure cover story, saying:

“Look at the top ten songs on the country charts right now-one, maybe two may be female. A lot more men than women have record deals…I know [the record companies] figure out their target audience is thirtysomething females. So they get guy singers in there, thinking that will appeal to them. But there’s nobody left for these thirtysomething women to relate to!”

She followed those observations with additional comments in her February 2013 Allure cover story:

“It’s like there are a hundred spots for men to be able to take, but when it comes to women-and I don’t mean to say this in a bragging way at all-but unfortunately I’m the only female this year who spent three weeks at number one on the country charts. Three weeks! And that’s two different songs-‘Good Girl’ and ‘Blown Away’ that it took to make those three weeks. I think that for some reason there seem to be less spots available for women.”

One of the reasons the situation for women at country radio has only gotten worse is country radio’s apparent wooing of the male 18-34 demo that is migrating away from rock radio and looking for a new home. As those of you who read some of my tweets and Callout America reports here at MJ’s know, some weekly snapshots of the preferences of the male 18-34 demo’s favorite tunes reveal a major preference for truck/tailgate/beer party songs and a real lack of diversity and openness to females in their tastes compared to other demos. The country airplay charts of 2013 showed much more similarity to the preferences of the male 18-34 demo that I’ve seen than to the preferences of any other demo. It’s not unusual for country radio to chase after a new demo, but what’s unusual about last year’s trend is how much it narrowed the field of what country radio would play to truck/tailgate/beer/party songs (something Billboard has written about), and how (arguably) the charts overserved one demo at the expense of the diverse, multi-generational appeal that’s been the basis for country radio and country music’s broad fanbase.

What do you think of Carrie and Kellie’s comments, and do you think their speaking up can have any impact on country radio?

  • GleeBunny

    This quote actually gave me a flashback:

    “…country radio’s apparent wooing of the male 18-34 demo that is migrating away from rock radio and looking for a new home.”

    I worked in country radio back in the late 1990s, and the message from programmers back then was that we were targeting the female 25-44 demo, who had listened to Top 40 back in the 80s.

    Boy how times have changed.

  • BonnieDee

    This has been a long time coming. The women need to fight back against this double standard. There really is a war on women in the Country Music business.

  • Kariann Hart

    I think the program director or owner of the radio station makes the final decision. I wonder what kind of encouragement they receive from the record labels? Carrie and Kelly make sense to me, but I’m not the one who needs to hear their message.

  • Amy Beth

    It’s the squeaky wheel effect.

    Male listeners have a strong preference for male artists; female listeners don’t have a strong preference either way. If you’re running a radio station, who would you cater to?

  • gem2477

    There is only three female names(Carrie, Miranda and Taylor) that are played with any regularity by country radio. All three women came on to the scene around 10 years ago – and there hasn’t been any other woman in country music who has had even remotely that type of success since then. Sad

  • mad1son

    Everything Carrie says about the hardships women face in country music is correct, and good for her for recognizing the privileged position she is in. But has she does anything other than talk about it? She says it isn’t fair that women are expected to dress up and look pretty, but doesn’t she reinforce that double standard with all of her fancy costume changes and makeup endorsements? She complains that there are more spots open for men just starting out than for women, but haven’t most of her opening acts been male?

  • bridgette12

    This has been happening for a while and it’s little late for the few women of country to speak out. There’s not enough of them to make a difference and when men control everything, they will not give up a ounce of power to make things more convenient for the women. They will take care of their own because for them, this works and they are making a lot of money off of the popularity of the guys of country.

  • Porfivor Nixon

    Maybe it’s the music. I love Kellie Pickler, but the singles I have heard from her are not very strong.

  • bridgette12

    She shouldn’t complain if she’s part of the problem. If your not helping your fellow female singers, then why should you complain about how the men are treating them. Carrie got hers and will be fine for years to come, but she’s not going to have a lot of female company at the top, because it’s easy to talk, actually doing something to affect change is a lot harder

  • windmills

    mad1son: She says it isn’t fair that women are expected to dress up and look pretty, but doesn’t she reinforce that double standard with all of her fancy costume changes and makeup endorsements?

    It would if she were doing these things because she feels she has no other choice. But she’s made it clear she enjoys the costume changes (something one of her idols Reba brought to the table) and she likes playing with makeup to achieve different looks. She has said she sees it as a form of expression, not a way of catering to other people’s standards. Example: her Blown Away album cover is not likely most people’s idea of pretty – Carrie deliberately wanted to go for something “fierce.”

    I don’t think simpler presentations are the only way to fight the double standards she’s discussed.

    mad1son: She complains that there are more spots open for men just starting out than for women, but haven’t most of her opening acts been male?

    Speaking only to what I know off the top of my head, Carrie offered an opening spot on the Blown Away tour to Lauren Alaina, but whether due to vocal issues or some other reason, Lauren turned her down. She’s also attempted outreach to other new females lately, including Sarah Darling, Katie Armiger, and Danielle Bradbery (though the latter has only been on Twitter so far, as far as the public knows).

  • Amy Beth

    Time for Carrie to get behind a country version of Lilith Fair.

  • c???s

    Your career is in the hands of radio. No air play = no sales no awards etc. Country radio is killing this genre. And having pop singer Taylor is not helping.

  • c???s

    Two stations here in Portland Or have yet to play anything from her last 2 country albums which is more traditional sound than her 1st two that were more pop. Her cd 100 Proof is a flawless country album. Every song is great. Has no filler songs, yet her now ex label did nothing on promotion. Even dumped her.

  • standtotheright

    That would actually be kind of awesome.

  • standtotheright

    There are expressed preferences and revealed preferences. What concerns me is that a lot of women out there probably do have a preference for more of a gender balance and they’re going to reveal it by spending less time on those stations in the long run.

  • BonnieDee

    That album should have won a grammy in my opinion. It was that good. Of course, instead, it got little airplay and little sales, and Kellie got dropped from her label at the time.

  • BonnieDee

    I’ve been wondering why they didn’t speak out before. I assumed that the few, like Carrie, who get regular airplay were afraid of losing that.

  • mad1son

    It’s good that Carrie enjoys dressing up, but that doesn’t give her a pass for calling out the industry for setting a double standard and then enthusiastically helping keep that standard in place. She’s at the top of her profession and she knows that what she does will be held up as an example of how other women ought to behave in order to succeed.

    If simpler presentations aren’t the only way for Carrie to protest, then what else is she doing to change the situation? I don’t see her Blown Away cover as any help – call it fierce if you want, but it was still a pretty girl in a pretty dress who made sure to do her hair and makeup before stepping out into a tornado.

  • taylor

    Why are female Pop/HAC/Urban/R&B/Rhythmic listeners so different from female Country music listeners? Those formats don’t have problems with getting female listeners to support female artists.

  • BonnieDee

    I do think women need to hear the message. Women can make a difference by standing up and supporting female country singers by buying their music.

  • BonnieDee

    That’s a truly amazing idea.

  • taylor

    Carrie could have a couple of up and coming female artists as her openers on her tours. It looks like for her solo tours, she has had males as opening acts. How about doing some duets or collaborations with some of the newer females who are struggling to be heard. Carrie is in the position where she could be helping other females in the business.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    I’d never heard that she invited LA and that she turned her down–wow. Nor any of the other ladies on the list. Hard to believe they wouldn’t be thrilled.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    They have had Girls and Guitars shows, but I’d assume you’re talking bigger?

  • windmills

    But Carrie’s point of view, also based on a comment she’s made before, is not that females should have to put less effort into their appearance but that males should put in more. Like I said, the simple act of dressing up as expression is not in & of itself acquiescence to double standards.

    As far as what else she can/does do to help the situation, she’s put an equal emphasis on fitness/strength for stamina’s sake and as an expression of power over your own body. She’s released singles on a wide variety of topics, including one portraying 2 women who, instead of “other woman”ing each other, collaborate to kill the guy who was cheating on them both – and she portrayed them without judgment. The underlying message isn’t advocacy of murder, but it is the idea that men shouldn’t be able to expect women to blame each other if the guy cheats. Carrie spoke out years ago, before Miranda Lambert went on her winning streak, about Miranda being underrated by the industry. She’s given support to 2 of her former female backup singers who have gone out as original acts, and she’s hooked her current female backup singer with her producer Mark Bright for recording purposes. These are a few examples.

    I’m not calling her a revolutionary. I’m not saying Carrie can’t do more to advance the cause of women in country music. But between actions and words, Carrie has been a net positive for the presence of women in country.

  • Dewayne Boyd

    So she’s saying country males should put in more effort to dress up? If that is the case, it obviously has nothing to do with whether women are being played on the radio. Carrie needs someone to write her talking points because she really makes no sense. Country male singers aren’t Elton John or Michael Jackson and aren’t expected to be by their own fans. It would seem weird and has nothing at all to do with the preferences of radio stations.

  • Dewayne Boyd

    And this comment by Carrie is equally absurd:

    “I don’t think women can get away with the partying, beer-drinking, hung-over, truck-driving kind of music that a lot of the guys have gotten away with lately.”

    Why in the hell would any woman want to sing about partying or truck driving? Her bizarre attempts to talk about random double standards are consistently irrelevant. It’s very simple. Radio stations think their listeners prefer to hear males. Whatever reason is causing that mindset is what would need to change. Differences in fashion or lyrical content are not germane and simply have no part in the discussion.

  • bridgette12

    That’s what I think also, afraid of retribution if they made noise.

  • bridgette12

    I think she started to dress sexier and more sophisticated because she wanted to update her look so she can appeal to those outside of country like Taylor do.

  • windmills

    Except that, as I posted, Carrie’s been speaking about this issue for years. I quoted comments from her to Allure from its September 2008 issue, which she made the day before she was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry (in May 2008).

  • windmills

    You seem to be missing her point. Carrie”s addressing the argument that listeners want to hear songs about trucks/tailgates/beer/parties (because it’s escape, because that’s what they relate to, whatever). Her point is that if that’s the case, then that’s part of the deck being stacked against female country acts because listeners wouldn’t accept females singing about the same topics that all the samey males who are getting hits sing about.

  • Amy Beth

    Two words: Gretchen Wilson

  • scoobynacks

    She IS trying to help other female singers and has done that already, so don’t tell her to stop complaining. Helps to research.

  • scoobynacks

    She tried to have Lauren Alaina open for her. If people say no, how is that Carrie’s fault? She helps out the women who work with her. She’s made the effort to support other women. One person isn’t gonna fix the business. She wants to raise awareness and get others to join in.

  • scoobynacks

    I saw Kellie on Craig Ferguson a couple times, once for a Christmas song and once for her original song, and both times she was excellent. It’s not lack of ability on her part.

    Besides, I’ve heard derivative stuff coming out of the WGWG element of country music for a long time and even though the lyrics and tone isn’t stand out, they do get more play. I hear some of the songs and I don’t get how they aren’t album filler. You’d think there’d be more guys settling near the bottom and the stronger ones drawing more of a fanbase. Instead, it seems like people are willing to listen to essentially the same song over and over. The singer’s voice ought to be more identifiable. If you hear Carrie, Miranda, Kellie, Jennifer Nettles, Reba, Martina etc. you recognize them. I recognize Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Scotty, and more but not all of them make an impression as a unique artist. The ones that blend in and you can’t pick out of a crowd need to get relegated to the back bench. Radio stations can do that if they want to and they just don’t see to want to try.

  • stardust

    Radio research on the singles from the 3 women radio plays shows that men and women love them, same for Kellie’s singles and the other women they occasionally play to top 10-20.

  • Darko_5

    LA was suppose to join the second leg of the tour
    replacing HH but by then her voice was gone and she essential went on vocal rest for 6 months. Touring with Carrie one day means a lot to her and I am sure it was fustrating to say the least not to be able to do it.

  • stardust

    It’s definitely NOT the music! Kellie started out with 6 top 10-20 singles in a row and some of those are equal or better in quality than many songs country radio played to top 5, then her music got even better. Her 2 latest albums are critically acclaimed and topped best albums of the year lists. Her singles are the best country radio isn’t playing and stronger than most they play. The only problem is radio not playing and keeping women at about 15% of the chart no matter how good their songs are, otherwise Carrie would not be speaking out on this issue.

  • Dewayne Boyd

    That point would even be more absurd. You shouldn’t be getting country fans to change what they like. They like what they like, and you just accept that. My point is they’re not all that freaking shallow. This is about what the programmers think is the most marketable and limiting their play selections to that when, in fact, the listeners would be happy listening to more women, regardless of what they are singing about. Yes, we know they would. All of us here know they would listen.

    This issue requires a lot more than people like Carrie and dimwit Kellie Pickler speaking out.

    Hint: The FCC issues licenses to radio stations. Now let your mind wander and think about the possibilities. When you are dealing with people in power, you don’t play softball like the Carries of the world. This requires a wooden bat and a meeting in the alley.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    Thanks.

  • Mateja Praznik

    I agree. I preferred Kellie when she was doing country pop. I just don’t like traditional country. Her first two albums were way more listenable.

  • Miz

    Is it really the male listeners or the radio station sponsors? For country, that’s usually trucks and beer.

  • taylor

    There are plenty of other female country artists other than Lauren Alaina, many more. I looked back at Carrie’s last three tours and she had males opening for her on those tours. That was close to 400 shows. I find it hard to believe she couldn’t find a few female artists along the way to open for her at a couple of hundred of those shows, or so. ;)

    Of course one person cant fix everything that’s wrong with the business, but Carrie is in the position where she could help other women with collaborations or opening act slots.

  • taylor

    Where is she now? When was the last time she had a top 10 country hit?

  • Tess Herself

    Wasn’t this cancelled, or downsized, for lack of interest.

  • windmills

    In addition to offering Lauren an opening spot on her BA tour, Carrie had Kira Isabella opening her Canadian dates for the Blown Away tour. Last time I checked (which was last night because I saw them in concert), Little Big Town who opened for Carrie during her Carnival Ride tour was 50% female.

    Sure, Carrie could be doing more. However, she’s expressed interest for years (for instance, in the same 2008 Allure interview I quoted from in the post) in doing an all-female country tour (with Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, etc.) and mentioned that tour promoters are reluctant to get behind the idea of an all female tour. After 2010’s Lilith Fair mess, I believe that reluctance is ongoing.

    Carrie is still growing her tour audience, so my guess would be that she would like to become an even stronger draw to the point that tour promoters would become more amenable to the idea of an all female country tour.

    Edited bc I called Carrie “She” instead of “she” which implied something I really didn’t mean to imply :p

  • taylor

    Then that’s a problem with country listeners. They want their guys to be fun, party guys but the want their girls to be sweet or heartbroken. They want to hear the party songs, therefore the girls are basically OUT.
    I’m telling ya, the problem with country is they don’t have gay people and minorities in their listening audience! If they did, they would be demanding to hear some strong and sexy songs from the females!
    Look at the top 10 of CHR right now compared to country! The main problem here is the audience.

  • windmills

    As I mentioned in another comment, Carrie mentioned wanting to do an all female country tour with Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, etc., back in 2008, both in Allure and to other outlets. She also mentioned that tour promoters were reluctant to get behind the idea, and after the Live Nation Lilith Fair mess of 2010, I think their reluctance would continue at this point.

    That being said, Carrie has been growing her touring fanbase and I think she’d like to get it up to the point where tour promoters would be more likely to support an all female tour as long as her name was attached. I’m not implying an all-female country tour is her primary goal, but I don’t believe she’s given up on the idea.

  • windmills

    You’ve got a point. But let’s look at Kacey Musgraves. She’s seen spikes in her sales after performing at TV events like the CMAs. Her 3rd single, Follow Your Arrow, saw strong sales after Sirius XM Highway play. It’s clear she has an audience among country fans. It’s also clear based on the post-Grammy bumps for her album and Follow Your Arrow that she has an audience, period.

    As I mentioned the other day, I’ve looked at callout results that show Kacey’s Follow Your Arrow testing better than singles from guys that are currently in the t30. Follow Your Arrow couldn’t even crack the t40 at country radio.

    So here, it’s not the audience that’s the problem, or at least the numbers don’t point to that being the case. Is it programmers? Well, programmers loved Follow Your Arrow when Kacey performed it live at Country Radio Seminar last year but assumed they couldn’t play it. Yet there’s a disconnect, maybe somewhere in corporate offices. Or, maybe there’s a disconnect between country radio and country fans.

  • taylor

    Yeah, I saw the Canadian shows, but that was for about 20 dates and the problem above is centered around problems with US radio.

    The groups with a female or two thrown in the mix aren’t really what you are addressing in your above discussion. They have a couple of guys along to encourage radio play and help get that country audience. It is the solo females that you are saying are having the problems, right? That’s the same group I was referring to, when I said Carrie could promote one or two from that repressed group on her tours.

  • bridgette12

    This is country music, your not going to get an influx of Gays and other minorities to that genre. It’s a sea of white faces who control everything in country music, majority of them being men.. If they are not rolling out the red carpet for white females, do you think they would want Gays, Blacks and Hispanics.

  • taylor

    When you look at the top 20 country songs at iTunes, 90% (or more) will be songs rom males.
    When you look at the top 20 pop songs, 50% will be from females. The same thing holds true for albums on iTunes, when comparing the country and pop categories. Maybe country radio is just following the money trail. They are giving their audience what they want. Until country music buyers start buying the albums and singles the females are putting out, radio isn’t going to pay as much attention to them.

  • taylor

    I know.
    As much as people want to blame everything under the sun, the main problem is the listening audience.
    It’s a majority of socially conservative white dudes and the ladies that love ‘em. Of course the songs are about beer, trucks and men appreciating them tight blue jeans! :)

  • rain

    Danielle and Carrie haven’t met yet as Danielle mentioned on her interviews. Windmills just said reaching, not that the other girls (aside from Lauren) turned Carrie down.

  • windmills

    taylor: Until country music buyers start buying the albums and singles the females are putting out, radio isn’t going to pay as much attention to them.

    That’s where Kellie’s point comes into play. The females sell more albums for the amount of airplay they get than the guys. Some examples: until their last albums, Miranda Lambert was selling significantly more albums than Blake Shelton, and with a lot less airplay. Kellie Pickler outsold a lot of her male contemporaries when she was getting t20 hits. And I already discussed Kacey Musgraves’s album sales success compared to newbie guys in the main post. In fact, she’s set to return to #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart this coming week, 10 1/2 months after debuting at #1 there, thanks to the Grammy bounce. Her projected sales of 35k will be her 2nd highest week of sales yet (her highest being her 1st week of 44k).

    The downloads chart you’re seeing now is to some extent a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there’s only 1 bulleted song by a solo female in the t20 of the country airplay chart, that obviously begets an Itunes chart that’s heavily male. But I also have noticed fans of female country acts seem to prefer buying albums to buying downloads.

  • Carin Reynolds

    To speak out against the impartial treatment of women in music is brave and to be commended. Male artists today do all sound alike and sing about the exact same subject. I vomit every time I hear a song about trucks, back roads, girls and chewing tobacco. Radio needs to listen to the audience who actually plays the radio and not streaming their IPhones. I am that demographic and about to stop tuning in to Country Radio all together.

  • https://twitter.com/Sofa_Critic Sofa Critic

    Just like the movie business, anything that is successful will be repeated until the well runs dry. Big media companies like Cumulus and Clear Channel are as risk-averse as their movie studio counterparts. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that.

  • windmills

    Yea, Carrie wasn’t touring by the time Danielle was ready to tour.

    Big Machine is not going to facilitate a Carrie and Danielle meeting (nor will Sony) so it would take some other facilitator or Carrie reaching out. Now that Carrie’s settled back in in Nashville after a crazy year, I’m hopeful they’ll meet somehow. I’m pretty sure Amber Carrington hung out with Carrie at a recent Predators game because the Swon Brothers (who were also hanging with Carrie at the game) introduced them so maybe they can be the connection for Danielle.

    I’m optimistic that Carrie and Danielle will meet, at the latest, on Feb 22nd when Brad Paisley plays Bridgestone Arena with Danielle as a support act.

  • windmills

    Replacing Hunter? I had always assumed Lauren would join the tour as the secondary opener. I don’t think there was ever any doubt Hunter would stay on the Blown Away tour for the 2nd leg. But Lauren would’ve been a great addition. Hopefully they’ll link up for a subsequent tour.

  • taylor

    “But I also have noticed fans of female country acts seem to prefer buying albums to buying downloads.”

    Then those albums by solo females should make it into the top country albums of 2013 and that’s not what happened. That list is mostly males and groups.

    If the country audience wants to change the music that is getting played, they need to quit buying it, and start supporting the solo female acts. Until that happens, the market will follow the money trail.

  • stardust
  • http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ mjsbigblog

    It’s a majority of socially conservative white dudes and the ladies that love ‘em.

    That’s a stereotype. I’m willing to bet country fans are more diverse than that.

  • taylor

    On a positive note for the one of the country female artists, Katy Perry is taking Kasey Musgraves along as opener for a leg of her upcoming Prism tour! That’s a prime spot and will expose her to a new audience!

  • stardust

    As pop and rap music proved years ago, millions of people like whatever radio plays no matter how bad it is. But it’s no excuse for country radio to greatly lower standards, turn into pop radio or rob the best music and women. This audience member who used to love listening to country radio can’t stand the current trend and it me made stop listening until they play better music again.

  • Happyhexer

    It’s about damn time! Go, Carrie and Kellie! I’ve actually given some thought to whether a sexual discrimination disparate impact case could be made against the very few who own and control multiple radio stations. It might not win (too amorphous re plaintiffs and defendants), but might be worth bringing nevertheless to shame the industry into doing something about the inequity.

  • stardust

    Solo females dominated the best country albums of 2013 lists. Kellie Pickler, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Brandy Clark, Holly Williams, and more. In 2012 Kellie was #1 on most of the lists. While most of the men radio plays didn’t even make the lists.

    As far as sales goes, for the most part people buy what they hear on radio. Radio only plays 3 women much and many men and groups so that’s why the sales list is mostly males and groups. Like Kellie said, the women radio plays to top 10-20 are selling plus they are outselling men with similar or more airplay. So the bottom line is radio should start supporting more solo female acts and then the sales will follow, just like they do for the men.

  • Happyhexer

    How in the world is Carrie a part of the problem? Because she’s attractive and tries to accentuate her looks? Since when has that been a crime against women? Why is Carrie required to “help” her fellow female singers before she is entitled to express an opinion on the subject? And just how is she supposed to help, when she doesn’t control what radio stations play? Frankly, speaking out (by a female country singer who likely is big and popular enough to weather any backlash) IS an effective way to help, because it shines a light on the problem. Way more important than insisting on only female opening acts (who are not as well-known as their male counterparts because of the very discrimination Carrie is trying to highlight with her words).

  • Happyhexer

    Ooh, I like Katie Armiger. I have her song “Scream.” Now there’s a combination — Carrie & Katie.

  • Happyhexer

    And I blame the FCC, along with the DOJ’s antitrust division, for the mess that is radio today. Neither agency should have let radio station ownership be concentrated into the hands of so few.

  • Happyhexer

    Oh, there is a disconnect between country radio and country fans, all right. I am just about ready to give up. I’ve cut back big-time on listening to the big city monitored country radio stations in my area and listen to a small nonmonitored country radio station instead. It plays more of a variety (not the same 20 songs ad nauseam) — both new artists and established artists, and both male singers AND female singers.

  • Happyhexer

    You can’t buy what you don’t hear. The only way I have been able to discover female country artists like Ashley Gearing, Emily West, Joanna Smith, Katie Armiger, and Mallary Hope — and yes, I’ve bought their music — is by taking the Nashville Country Club (NCC) New Music surveys. Those are the surveys that feature music that has NOT made it into the top 40. It’s littered with female artists, many of whom are very talented and sing good songs. And not a one gets any radio play to speak of. In fact, I have never heard any of the songs I’ve purchased playing on country radio. (The upside of that is, at least I’m not sick of hearing them played a zillion times.)

  • Happyhexer

    Damn right we are!

  • Happyhexer

    I’ve pretty much stopped listening to KUPL & KWJJ. It’s nothing but bro country 24/7. I listen more now to KRKT, which has more variety, at least in the daytime. (Not a big fan of The Big Time with Whitney Allen.) And yes, I noticed they don’t play Kellie P. anymore, now that she actually sings country music. (They used to play her pop country songs.) Kellie’s two singles from “100 Proof” were great. And I love her first single from her new album. But “A Little Bit Gypsy” is not a strong song, IMHO.

  • Happyhexer

    “One person isn’t gonna fix the business. She wants to raise awareness and get others to join in.” Amen to that!

  • Happyhexer

    Same here!

  • taylor

    It doesn’t matter who is on random “best of —-” lists. That’s not what radio is going to play, not in any format. Radio stations look at regional iTunes sales and album sales in the area. They do call out research in their area. If they were picking up that there was a big support for certain songs by females, they would play those songs. They want to keep you from hitting that button to switch to another station. Right now, there is a certain type of song that is appealing to their targeted demo. For some reason, that demo doesn’t want these same types of songs from the female artists. When the country listening audience starts showing a different preference, then they will switch to playing something else.
    It never hurts to bring attention to a problem, but until country radio stations see that their audiences are going to support the female artists like they do the male artists, they are going to keep playing what is popular and what is selling.

  • Happyhexer

    I hope one of the former background singers you’ve mentioned in Jamelle Fraley. She and her husband Brandon Fraley formed Two Story Road, and they sound wonderful together. Have you heard any of their songs? If so, what do you think?

  • chillj

    “I don’t think women can get away with the partying, beer-drinking, hung-over, truck-driving kind of music that a lot of the guys have gotten away with lately.”

    Maybe a woman should try singing that kind of song (if the singer is authentic). It could be refreshing – and illuminating. There are plenty of women truck drivers, etc.

    There are some very strong country people, but I’m not sure country embraces them. Lucinda Williams is powerful. Isn’t she country? The country establishment does not seem to have embraced her. Maybe it should: she is very powerful. It seems a lot of female country is hyper-feminized and with it relegated to obscurity. I don’t think it needs to be that way, but it may take one strong lady to break out of it.

  • chillj

    What a good idea!

  • isitoveryet

    She needs to put her money where her mouth is and do something now… or at least attempt to.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    One can never know, but my first thought when I saw this is that it will actually hurt her. As a country fan, I want my artists to be authentic and somewhat loyal to the genre. I’d see country radio saying, what does she want to be? But, then again, they played Cassadee Pope over Brandy Clark, so what do I know?

  • chillj

    I’m going to guess that a lot of country music listeners are females who like looking at the macho men in jeans. I don’t buy country music, but I find male country singers very physically appealing and most pop singers are not; I watch country singers for the pants. (Sounds awful, but it is true.)

    I’m gonna guess a lot of pop listeners enjoy the sexy pop female singers: country women are not as sexy or sexual on stage.

  • Amy Beth

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but your comment plays right into the idea that there are only a certain number of slots for female artists. Why can’t there be room for Pope and Clark? Why not say they played (fill in the name of random bro-country newcomer) over Brandy instead of pitting the female artists against each other?

    The industry won’t change until the consumers adjust their thinking too.

    I honestly believe that the more female voices are played, the more will be played. Girl Power!

  • Indigobunting

    From watching Kacey Musgraves…..I’m pretty sure she is authentic ;) Her songs are country and not half as Pop as the vast majority of the top 40 guys right now who tailor what they put out to radio to get played (that isn’t as ‘loyal’ in my book as writing and producing songs that do the genre justice). And doing a short stint with Katy Perry won’t hurt her-I highly doubt she will start putting out pop music just because she became friends with Katy and Katy wanted her to open for a specified time period.

    After all Kacey will have just toured with Lady A and Kip Moore (love him) immediately prior to Katy’s tour. She is also a songwriter who’s music is in demand from other artists-and yes, the country critics and insiders lover her anyway even with no radio play-up for and winning CMA, Grammy and now up for ACM awards.

    I commend Carrie for speaking up-not easy in the clubby conservative country genre atmosphere.

  • Tess Herself

    Oh, Carrie, ye of the red dress (I think it was red) that made you look like a figurine on top of a very bad wedding cake.

    The undeniable fact is that more women than men buy music and listen to it…and I, for one, can’t think of any “gal” I really fanned when I was in my teens. It wasn’t until I got older that female albums started to supplement my “boy crazed” collection.

    Its a tough truth, but it is what it is. Until women start changing their attitudes out in the real world the music industry will stay pretty status-quo. And to add to that, men who purchase music tend to look beyond the voice to something that tickles their privates…so the gals who make it seem to have to appeal to base senses. It just IS.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    My comment had nothing to do with slots, but music. I see Cassadee as someone who (right or wrong) is using country music to get where she wants to be (pop music), whereas Brandy Clark is country, period. I don’t know of a male artist, right off the top of my head, that has done the same thing as Cassadee.

    As far as Kacey, what I meant is…can you think of a male artist that’s opening for a big pop star?

  • Kirsten

    The undeniable fact is that more women than men buy music and listen to
    it…and I, for one, can’t think of any “gal” I really fanned when I was
    in my teens

    Pop is even more teen driven and women seem to be able to make in-roads there.

    Meanwhile, Rock radio, whose demographic of listeners consists largely of males, barely ever plays a female voice. Succesful female rappers are also relatively rare. I’m thinking it is the male listeners of Country radio that are more of the issue here.

  • https://twitter.com/Sofa_Critic Sofa Critic

    Great idea, though tough to get everyone’s schedules to sync up. Would work well at summer festivals if markets were well-researched to ensure attendance. Would need solid financial backing. At the very least, how about some kind of summit with radio executives and industry players. Are there enough powerful women in the business (artists and otherwise) to make their case and have influence?

  • Matthew

    What is the makeup of country radio listeners. Percentage men v women?

  • standtotheright

    She got caught up in a pretty big lawsuit in 2008 (also including her label group) and her album released that same year went nowhere. So I’m not sure her rise and fall on the charts proves anything.

  • justmefornow

    I have to disagree about Rock radio. They play Lzzy Hale and Maria Brink quite a lot on the station I listen to. (Of course these two front kick ass bands and are just as aggressive as any of the male frontman so maybe that’s it.)

    Can’t comment on country or rap, don’t listen, have no clue.

  • standtotheright

    Here’s my question. Clearly country radio targeted women pretty strongly in the 90s and 2000s (see the comment below from the former PD), and the labels were able to push some gigantic stars with crossover appeal (Faith Hill, Shania Twain, etc). Beyond the broader shift in the industry that made it harder to move albums at that level, what changed?
    I personally find it hard to believe that country audiences are more socially conservative *now* than they were a decade or two ago. What I think may well be more likely is that, as rock stations fold and DJs and PDs move to country (since that seems to be where the money is), the people who knew how to target bros bring the same strategy to target bros, whether or not that’s the best fit with the overall audience. And listeners, who generally engage pretty casually, will go along in the short run. But, much like rock, pushing female listenership away tends to shrink a format over time.

  • http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ mjsbigblog

    TWO female artists…out of how many? At least country radio has 3 female mainstays: Carrie, Miranda and Taylor

  • standtotheright

    If the point that she’s making is that PDs have biases and every artist on a radio/promo tour needs to appeal to PDs, then I don’t think it’s that irrelevant. If a male artist dresses casually when on a station visit and people there think “oh, he’s so authentic,” but when a female artist does it, those same people think “oh, she didn’t try very hard,” then it seems quite likely that that’s another reason that they’d choose not to play more women. It’s really hard to untangle social expectations from the social opportunities that are given to those who conform to them (or not given, to those who resist them).

  • justmefornow

    Well there aren’t a lot of females fronting rock/metal bands compared to the larger percentage of country female artists in the business I would think (?)

  • standtotheright

    But some of the ones that do still can’t push above top 20. I defy anyone to go to a Joy Formidable show and tell me that they don’t rock out.

  • justmefornow

    In rock credibility and paying your dues is a big factor. Lzzy and Maria have both been around for a long time, over 10 years each, fighting their way up the ladder, so maybe it’s the respect factor involved, who knows.

  • Kirsten

    Well there aren’t a lot of females fronting rock/metal bands compared to
    the larger percentage of country female artists in the business I would
    think (?)

    What came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Are there not a lot of females on rock radio because it is nearly impossible for them to make inroads or is there not a lot of airplay for females on rock radio because woman simply aren’t interested in rock music (or maybe lack the talent)?

    I tend to think its an all boys-club and the women have to be stellar before they even have a chance.

  • standtotheright

    Since male artists and fronted bands who have been around for the same or shorter periods get on the playlists more readily, I don’t think that really gets at the heart of the issue.

  • Amy Beth

    Considering that this thread is about how difficult it is for female country artists, it makes no sense to say that any sane woman would choose country just to get ahead in the music industry.

    Brandy Clark is awesome and “Stripes” is a great song (and better video!), but if Cassadee Pope dropped off the face of the earth, Clark would not be getting more play.

    Again, the more women, the better, for all female artists.

  • justmefornow

    Could be true. The women, especially Lzzy, have a far superior voice to a lot of the guys. Plus there’s also her great songwriting, guitar playing and stage presence which is far superior to a lot of those others.
    I see your point, lol.

  • Indigobunting

    I don’t follow pop, so couldn’t say, but I think a temporary stint with one of (the?) biggest pop stars can only reflect positively on country musics popularity.
    Taylor Swift is really a pop star, we all know that. And she routinely has male country stars open for her including two former Idols- Gokey, Casey James. David Nail, Frankie Ballard…numerous purely country male artists have done stints for her and I don’t believe it has hurt them-because Taylor is BIG and BIG helps sell the country genre. Katy Perry is BIG and although she has no country connections, I just don’t think a short small opening act by a friend like Kacey will hurt Kacey’s authenticity-especially when Kacey currently has such country credentials-her own stuff as well as her co-writes (Mamas Broken Heart) keep getting award nods.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    I honestly think the only reason Pope is in country is because of Blake Shelton and all his many connections.

    I agree with you about Clark, though, which makes me sad. And I love Ashley Monroe and the Pistol Annies even more. Ah, well. I’ve also put my money where my mouth is and bought all three.

  • Amy Beth

    If all it took was Blake, Rae Lynn would be a big star!

  • windmills

    Tess Herself: Oh, Carrie, ye of the red dress (I think it was red) that made you look like a figurine on top of a very bad wedding cake.

    I’m not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China. But if you’re talking about Carrie not being averse to costumery, you’re missing her point. Carrie likes to dress up and sees it as part of expression, not submission to other people’s standards. From what she has said before, she’s not crazy about guys getting away with showing up to work (concerts, M&Gs, whatever) looking like schlubs.

    Tess Herself: The undeniable fact is that more women than men buy music and listen to it…and I, for one, can’t think of any “gal” I really fanned when I was in my teens. It wasn’t until I got older that female albums started to supplement my “boy crazed” collection.

    Its a tough truth, but it is what it is. Until women start changing their attitudes out in the real world the music industry will stay pretty status-quo.

    Did you stop reading the main post before the Kellie Pickler quote and subsequent discussion? Because as that discussion points out, solo females who aren’t established hitmakers but have at least a little exposure are selling more albums than solo males getting way more airplay out of the gate.

    Not only that, I track weekly callout surveys like Callout America and Radio Feedback. Those surveys show plenty of support for female voices among females. It’s the male 18-34 demo that’s proven to be a problem.

  • windmills

    According to Arbitron numbers from last May as reported by Country Aircheck, the gender split among country radio listeners is close to 50-50, though I believe there’s still a slight lean towards females.

  • windmills

    Amy Beth: Brandy Clark is awesome and “Stripes” is a great song (and better video!), but if Cassadee Pope dropped off the face of the earth, Clark would not be getting more play.

    I agree with this, and to be fair, Brandy Clark doesn’t have a major label promo outfit behind her trying to get airplay. She is getting play on Sirius XM The Highway but that’s it.

    The other side of that is that Mike Dungan (of UMG Nashville) showed interest in Brandy’s album, as did Warner Brothers Nashville, I believe, and both labels ultimately passed on a deal. That’s sad, but it also reflects the business reality of “country” radio and how difficult it is for a new/unestablished female who is actually country to get airplay.

    Warner Brothers Nashville did sign Ashley Monroe, who cowrote Cassadee’s new single. Ashley and Brandy, along with Kacey, had the year’s most universally acclaimed country albums. But Warner Brothers Nashville never even tried promoting a radio single for Ashley. Once again, that shows how difficult it is for an unestablished female who sings country music to get airplay on country radio.

    Amy Beth: Again, the more women, the better, for all female artists.

    I disagree with this because Cassadee getting airplay doesn’t address the underlying problem of women making country music getting country radio airplay. Arguably, since programmers seem to have limited spots for females on country radio, she is at least temporarily taking up a slot that could have gone to a woman who makes country music. Cassadee’s airplay is more of a reflection of the pop programmers coming over to country importing HAC females with pre-existing fanbases in order to address the gender imbalance, but it doesn’t address the issue of developing country females through country radio exposure like country males have been developed through country radio exposure.

  • Corrine43180

    Maybe “schlubs” is how those artists express themselves too. Women don’t seem to mind, lolJust thinking of Idol, how many times do we read comments where a guy is complimented and swooned over because he looks like a regular guy, like the guy next door, not trying to be fancy lol. They’re appealing to a certain demo. C’mon, Carrie plays into it too. Look at her promo for the NFL. That outfit is certainly geared towards the NFLs highest demographic. Look, Carrie has the right to dress any way she wants to, but she’s playing the game like everyone else. She’s not exempt from people questioning and scrutinizing her.

    I hope this does some good, but I’m not sure it will. It may make the radio pds bond even more with the male artists. I hope not, but the boys club is hard to break up from the outside.

  • windmills

    Maybe “schlubs” is how those artists express themselves and women don’t seem to mind.

    It used to be in some cases, but it’s turned into a uniform for country guys, just like the truck/tailgate/beer/party lyrics. There’s no effort or thought there, and it’s all become empty. A decade ago, the country world was discussing the empty cliches of “hat acts.” Now, the uniform’s schlubbier.

    Corinne43180: She’s not exempt from people questioning and scrutinizing her.

    At no point did I say she was exempt. You’re not going to find me arguing for Carrie’s revolutionary impact or perfection or whatever. I’m merely clarifying her point of view based on her previous comments. Carrie has made it quite clear that on at least some level, she likes dressing up and playing around with looks.

  • bridgette12

    Do anyone think Carrie didn’t update her look to compete with the other superstars in the world, especially her good buddy Taylor who’s been a winning all the awards since she came on the scene and the same Taylor who’s popular world wide and don’t have the problem of having to deal with the all male club in country music for her music to be heard.

  • Corrine43180

    But how do you know that the way they’re dressing has no thought or effort or is merely a uniform? Most of the guys I see in country dress like most men in their age group. Maybe they’re not into fashion? For many of them, it would be inauthentic to start wearing costumes and outfits for performing, that’s not the kind of guys they are. Nothing wrong with that.

  • windmills

    As Billboard’s Tom Roland has noted, Carrie’s costumery draws from a tradition started by Dolly and Reba.

    bridgette12: Taylor who’s been a winning all the awards since she came on the scene

    Taylor hasn’t won a country industry-voted award for her solo work in years. In fact, Carrie has more recently won a country-based industry award (last year at the Grammys) than Taylor.

  • windmills

    Having more females tour with her is certainly one thing Carrie can do more of, but it’s not the only thing Carrie can do and as I’ve mentioned in other comments, she’s done other things. More on that in a bit.

    About the touring, like I mentioned, Carrie has mentioned wanting to do an all-female tour and the reluctance on the part of tour promoters to support all-female tours. In fact, tour promoters prefer mixed gender bills.

    So you typically see a female opener or at least a group with a female opening for a solo male or male group – that’s why Carrie started out on the Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley tours (Brad has actually had Miranda, Kellie, and Taylor open for him too, plus The Band Perry and Danielle), Kenny’s had Kacey Musgraves and Grace Potter open for him, Rascal Flatts has had Jessica Simpson and Cassadee opening for them, plus The Band Perry and Kellie Pickler.

    I think a female secondary opener-male/mixed primary opener/Carrie headliner configuration would work. Carrie’s only had a secondary opening act on 1 of her headlining tours (though she tried with the Blown Away tour by having Lauren along) – that was the Play On tour, when Carrie brought along her former fiddler’s band Sons Of Sylvia. So, that’s somewhere where I definitely agree Carrie can do more. On the other hand, having just one opener has enabled Carrie to have her shows start at 7:30p and end by 10:15p or so, which likely helps families attend, especially since Carrie tours weekdays and isn’t just a weekend warrior.

    As I’ve mentioned in other comments, Carrie has done other outreach to females who are/were on indie labels (Sarah Darling and Katie Armiger, I know Sarah Darling’s manager has thanked Carrie for her comments), and she’s given 2 of her former female backup singers (Nikki Leonti and Jamelle Fraley) support as they’ve gone off to do their own thing. She’s hooked her current female backup singer (Andrea Thomas) up with her producer Mark Bright for recording purposes. She’s taken other opportunities to express verbal support for female acts whom she feels are underappreciated.

    There’s always more she can do. But she’s certainly made an effort.

  • windmills

    Corrine43180: But how do you know that the way they’re dressing has no thought or effort or is merely a uniform?

    Because the formulaic nature of the outfits parallel the lack of effort in the songs. It’s also become a matter of snark within the country media (e.g., EW’s Grady Smith) how every “bro” in country music wears a backwards baseball gap and a gray henley, plus tight jeans.

    Maybe they’re not into fashion?

    This is less about being into fashion and more about a very narrow idea about the right “look” for country music, and again, how that narrowness runs parallel to the very narrow range of songs country radio supported in 2013.

  • bridgette12

    But overall, hasn’t Taylor won more awards than Carrie and been in less years.

  • windmills

    bridgette12: But overall, hasn’t Taylor won more awards than Carrie and been in less years.

    Carrie’s won more ACM Awards (9 versus 4), 1 less Grammy (6 versus 7), and 1 less CMA Award for solo work (though Taylor picked up another couple for a collab with Tim McGraw). But overall, not really.

    Besides, Carrie’s made a lot of decisions (fighting and winning the fight not to remix her songs, cutting the pop label she was legally required to sign with after AI out of her record deal, turning down an invitation to attend the MTV VMAs after being nominated for Best New Artist, etc.) that make it clear she has no interest in actively building a place in the pop world.

  • Lexie O’Neill

    Touche.

  • bridgette12

    A lot more award shows than that, but I see why you didn’t mention them. For Carrie to find a place in the pop world, you need music that will cross over and a image that will sell. I think staying where she’s at is right for Carrie.

  • http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ mjsbigblog

    But the point is, Carrie is not fashioning her image to compete with Taylor.

  • bridgette12

    No, don’t think she’s trying to compete with Taylor, but she’s aware of what Taylor has accomplished and what’s a more sexier image will get you than being the country princess.

  • stardust

    It doesn’t matter who is on random “best of —-” lists. That’s not what radio is going to play, not in any format.

    Not entirely true. They aren’t just random best of lists, they are the best, most respected lists including Billboard and other major outlets. Here’s one from 2012:

    http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-615/1481292/615-picks-top-10-country-albums-of-the-year

    Radio didn’t play Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town, Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, and Rascal Flatts? Of course they did and they should have continued to play Kellie Pickler and more very talented women too.

    Kacey Musgraves topped many of the 2013 lists and won Grammys. Radio didn’t play 1 of her singles to top 10 before robbing her second and third like they do to nearly all very talented women making great country music people love and want to hear? Of course they did.

    The women radio robs sell and research just as well or better than the men they play. Usually the only time there’s a significant positive difference on the male side is after radio plays men more so they sell and get heard more and therefore get more research points as their songs grow on listeners. It’s only fair to compare songs getting the same level of airplay and TV exposure. Radio not playing an artist for years is a great way to reduce their sales and scores too. Also, country radio has played songs that research poorly and many listeners complain about, ie big station changers. The last time I listened for awhile I enjoyed See You Again and other great songs until 1994 played and ruined the whole session and made me shut it off.

    It never hurts to bring attention to a problem, but until country radio stations see that their audiences are going to support the female artists like they do the male artists, they are going to keep playing what is popular and what is selling.

    Oh they’ve seen it but ignore it for solo females only even when they outsell and research better than men, and what radio plays is what sells. Nothing sells more music or makes it more popular than top 10-20 radio airplay.

  • stardust

    I haven’t seen Gretchen on any best albums lists in recent years but suppose she releases the best country album of 2014. When was the last time country radio played a solo female artist to top 10 more than once, and how many have they done that for in the past 10 years? And how many solo males?

  • stardust

    It’s never “too late.” Men aren’t making money off the popularity of Carrie, Miranda, Taylor, and Kacey? Of course they are since they are outselling many men radio plays. They don’t have to “give up power” to play more women, all it takes is fairness and common sense.

  • windmills

    taylor:Then those albums by solo females should make it into the top country albums of 2013 and that’s not what happened. That list is mostly males and groups.

    We seem to be talking about 2 different things. The best selling country albums of 2013 were Luke/Blake/Florida-Georgia Line. As much as I think those albums suck, I’m not arguing against them getting airplay. Carrie’s album was 2012’s top selling country album. She got plenty of airplay support. But that’s not the issue she’s discussing.

    taylor: If the country audience wants to change the music that is getting played, they need to quit buying it, and start supporting the solo female acts. Until that happens, the market will follow the money trail.

    Carrie’s comments are about all the samey new male acts getting a chance at radio when new female acts are not. Those samey new male acts, other than Florida-Georgia Line, were *not* at or near the top of the best selling country albums lists of 2013. As I mentioned in the main post, the best selling debut country album released in 2013 was Kacey Musgraves’s Same Trailer, Different Park. She had a single that made t10 (and went gold) early in 2013, but radio hasn’t supported the follow up singles. That’s an example of the disconnect I’m referring to. The money trail would seem to support more radio time for an act like Kacey.

  • stardust

    Little Bit Gypsy is better than many songs radio plays and more in line with what they play (upbeat country/pop/rock songs). They should have played it to at least top 10 instead of keeping it around #50 while playing many weaker songs past it for months.

  • stardust

    True so they should continue to play successful women instead of robbing them to play weaker songs from less successful and brand new men with no success. They’ve played many one hit wonders past Kellie Pickler and others with proven success and helping radio succeed.

  • stardust

    They shouldn’t copy the sucky songs from the men because the problem is radio doesn’t play most women no matter what kind of songs they release, and as Carrie mentioned I think radio unfairly expects more from women than men so they can’t get away with it. Not that women would want to record junk anyway since they are more talented and record better songs.

  • taylor

    Women have no problem supporting female artists in the Pop or Urban world. You will find Katy, Miley, Lorde, Gaga, Ellie, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kesha, Christina, Kesha in the top 20 on Pop at the current time. The pop female audience supports the above females, plus Pink, Demi, Selena, Adele, Taylor, Arianna and too many others to list.
    Young girls today, and young women, support female artists. They buy their singles, albums and attend their concerts. There’s obviously a problem with support for female solo artists in the country world, but that doesn’t hold true for pop and urban audiences.

  • http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ mjsbigblog

    Taylor has a “sexy” image? Her image strikes me as the virginal princess, to be honest. Carrie’s look is sexier and always has been.

  • Corrine43180

    Eh, that’s everywhere though, even idol. For a while it seemed that all the WGWG were wearing jeans and flannel and being praised for being “real” and not into anything but the music. Don’t really see the country guys doing anything different than any other genre.

  • https://twitter.com/Sofa_Critic Sofa Critic

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the status quo at all. I would love to see artists like Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe and Lindi Ortega having Top 10 and #1 hits in addition to the current top female artists.

  • taylor

    It all started changing around the Dixie Chicks and 9/11. I’ve got my theories, but I will just leave it at that. :)
    It’s a cycle. Country radio labels need to start signing more women, DIVERSE women, and promoting them like they promote the guys. Radio PDs need to play females, even when the sales and popularity spikes aren’t there for them. They should “over-support” some females for a while. (this happens on Pop radio all the time) Female country listeners should start supporting other females by buying their music, requesting their songs and attending their concerts. Then the cycle could start to change.

  • windmills

    Happyhexer: I hope one of the former background singers you’ve mentioned in Jamelle Fraley. She and her husband Brandon Fraley formed Two Story Road, and they sound wonderful together. Have you heard any of their songs? If so, what do you think?

    Yes, Jamelle is 1 of the 2 I was talking about. I’m hoping that the next time Carrie goes out on tour, she brings on Two Story Road as a secondary opener. I know they’ve all kept in touch, and Two Story Road has been performing a song Carrie cowrote (Right Amount Of Wrong, a fun country rocker).

    I love Jamelle’s voice, and Brandon’s harmonies with her bring some depth & grit. They too have been working with Mark Bright. They’re both good songwriters too, and so far, I think their best stuff has some rangy melodies and cool acoustic guitar grooves that could become more rockin’ in studio. The vocals have that country/rock feel with a little bit of a soul flavor going on. I think they’re being smart to do a lot of live performing all over and kind of hone their sound. Personally, I like the acoustic country/rock sound from them and think it could help them to stand out.

  • Happyhexer

    Agree 100% about the weaker (and sound-alike) songs!

  • taylor

    “I’m thinking it is the male listeners of Country radio that are more of the issue here.”
    I think the same. The question is why is this demo so important to country radio? Why are they catering to them?
    Alternative Rock is the same. I saw an article recently about Lorde being the first female to top that format in the past 17 years.

  • Happyhexer

    Windmills, I saw Two Story Road perform on Danny’s cruise, and I was impressed. They came prepared, and even some of the Kris Allen fans (who wouldn’t necessarily be predisposed to like country music) liked them. I haven’t been listening to their new material, because I like to be surprised. I’d buy anything they put out, sound unheard. I hope they get signed soon; I’m impatient for their good music.

    BUT, you make an excellent point. Talent alone isn’t enough. TSR needs to hone their sound and create a niche that will allow them entry into the country music scene. They almost certainly will be compared to Thompson Square, and they will need to prove there’s room on the charts for two husband/wife duos. In both cases, the wife is the stronger vocalist (Shawna & Jamie). But I think Brandon is a better singer than Keifer. Generally, if Shawna’s on leads, I tend to like the song; if not, I don’t.

  • Happyhexer

    I’m actually going to take the opportunity to reply to you twice, Windmills. On the heels of this thread, I’ve been tweeting about the stand that Carrie & Kellie are taking with respect to country radio’s treatment of women. And I’ve tweeted directly to my local country radio station about the subject as well. Here are some of their responses:

    “we play hits. And there are some great female hits coming in the pipeline. Can you define ‘bro country’ please?” (Puh-leaze! If they don’t know what bro country is, they shouldn’t be in business.)

    “Lady A, The Band Perry, etc all have female singers. Last I checked Sheryl Crow is female. Not sure what you mean by ignoring.”

    “those songs [I was referring to recent songs by female artists] take a little longer to grow and be established. We do play them in our late night rotation however.”

    “it’s the sound of the format. I can’t share how we decide our rotations publicly but there’s a lot of time and effort into it.”

    “well I can tell you that if a song is a hit we will play it no matter who or what gender sings it.” (It’s hard for a song to become a hit if it gets zero airplay.)

    Etc. It ended with an invitation to e-mail the program director. If enough country music lovers and country radio listeners (male or female) would contact their local country radio station to support a better balance between male and female artists and between established and new artists, as well as more variety in general (not the same 20 songs ad nauseam), maybe we’d get somewhere. Maybe. Or maybe we need to put pressure on the advertisers, but that in some ways is harder to do.

  • Tess Herself

    Yup I did stop reading because I find the whole subject pretty ludicrous. Just like the Idol fans forcing a female singer winner on Idol. All things are cyclical…I can remember a time when females totally dominated the country airwaves and they had TV specials, were given movie parts, shown up on every magazine cover. Big tits, big blond hair, Scarlet O’Hara costuming, and all of them standing by their man. Until Carrie starts sharing the spotlight with other women, tones down the hair and make-up, and lets things progress organically I just can’t get riled over this female gap in current country radio.

  • iani

    Do anyone think Carrie didn’t update her look to compete with the other superstars in the world, especially her good buddy Taylor who’s been a winning all the awards since she came on the scene

    I don’t think that TS has updated her look too much either other than some very short or long sparkly dresses. In my opinion Carrie should not change anything fashion-wise, she has a sense of herself and her style has helped her, along with her great persona, to get her audience. Musically she has not had songs to stand up for her too much with the last 2 albums I think, the Casanova song, Good Girl one, the anthemic Blown Away were not really very good songs, songs to crossover to other formats like TS-songs. TS doesn’t need Country radio to play her music, she’s waving to the PDs from the Pop charts, Carrie on he other hand needs Country to play her music and now with those indie folk, country singers that write their music and get their own style that click with the audience or with that “bro” coalition for radioplay it is maybe a little bit harder to get her music be played as before. She needs a good song with some universal message, the GG song didn’t do her any favor I think, BA and 2BC too anthemic for pop audience, I don’t know how they were received on Country and HAC formats.

  • Mafs95

    I don’t listen to Country music that much, but I agree with Carrie and Kelly. It’s not fair and something should be done! I think the problem is mainly with the male listeners. Most of my male friends listen to music from male artist and rarely listen to music from female artists (it doesn’t matter if it is Country, Rock, Reggae or whatever). Girls actually tend to have a larger taste in music, at least that’s what I get from the people I know.

  • windmills

    iani: Carrie on he other hand needs Country to play her music and now with those indie folk, country singers that write their music and get their own style that click with the audience or with that “bro” coalition for radioplay it is maybe a little bit harder to get her music be played as before. She needs a good song with some universal message, the GG song didn’t do her any favor I think, BA and 2BC too anthemic for pop audience, I don’t know how they were received on Country and HAC formats.

    Good Girl went to #1 country, and was never sent to CHR radio. It’s certified double platinum. It peaked at #20 HAC without a promo push. Blown Away was a 2 week airplay #1 at country and peaked somewhere outside the t30 at HAC, again with no promo push. BA has sold almost 2.5 million downloads and obviously won a Grammy for Carrie for Best Country Solo Vocal Performance. 2BC went to #1 on the country charts and was never sent to any other radio format. It is certified platinum. Carrie renegotiated her record deal to cut out the pop label that would’ve cross-promoted her to other formats. The change took effect in January 2009, so crossover pushes were obviously not a priority for her.

    Based on the track record of the singles you mentioned, as described above, I don’t know where you’re getting “it is maybe a little bit harder to get her music be played as before”? I agree that in 2013, the bro country climate probably made it harder for women but Carrie’s singles succeeded notably anyway. There was some talk about 2BC’s murder storyline being too out there for country radio but it still hit #1.

    Carrie is *not* complaining about her situation – she’s acknowledging her good fortune and talking about how difficult it is for other less established women to get their fair shot in country music.

  • iani

    Based on the track record of the singles you mentioned, as described above, I don’t know where you’re getting “it is maybe a little bit harder to get her music be played as before”?

    The discussion was TS related not necessarily country charts or Kellie related, why TS music is everywhere “Taylor who’s been a winning all the awards since she came on the scene and the same Taylor who’s popular world wide and don’t have the problem of having to deal with the all male club in country music for her music to be heard. I checked myself wikipedia and I saw how far the songs went, great she’s still doing well on country, why not to have her again on mainstream radio as well, that is the question. And my answer is : it has nothing to do with her “fashion” but the sound of her music.

  • windmills

    iani: great she’s still doing well on country, why not to have her again on mainstream radio as well, that is the question.

    I already answered that when I said:

    “Carrie renegotiated her record deal to cut out the pop label that would’ve cross-promoted her to other formats. The change took effect in January 2009, so crossover pushes were obviously not a priority for her.”

    Carrie fought (and won the fight) to not remix Before He Cheats so that it could cross over. She was nominated for a MTV VMA (for Best New Artist) and stayed home and watched football instead of attending the ceremony.

    I think Carrie realized early that the pop scene wasn’t for her and that her temperament was not well suited for the pop scene. I have always said that Idol’s had 2 people who’ve reached the doorstep to the possibility of superstardom: Kelly and Carrie. In their own ways, they both chose to step back.

    Taylor Swift has the ambition, the drive, the desire, the wherewithal for global superstardom, so she went after it, armed with her songwriting abilities, her pop instincts, her business intelligence, and all of that. Good for her. Not everybody has the same set of priorities, desires, and temperament.

  • iani

    “Carrie renegotiated her record deal to cut out the pop label that would’ve cross-promoted her to other formats. The change took effect in January 2009, so crossover pushes were obviously not a priority for her.”

    She fought (and won the fight) to not remix Before He Cheats. She was nominated for a MTV VMA (for Best New Artist) and stayed home and watched football.

    think Carrie realized early that the pop scene wasn’t for her and that her temperament was maybe not well suited for the pop scene.

    Well, in this case good luck to Carrie. Some guys are more pop than she is, same for Kellie, maybe is why males are played more, they might bring more commercial-sound appeal than other ladies.

  • onebirdlover1

    Carrie has promoted a lot of female artists, She talked about Miranda in interviews before she ( Miranda ) made it.She has been helpful by singing with different female artists as well. Kellie not being played more is beyond me. I really like her and her music.

  • marmom07

    So why is it the opposite in the pop world? So many more female solo artist/singers than male are commercially successful in pop music, especially right now..

  • stardust

    Now let’s think about this. Carrie is not part of the problem. In fact she opened doors for more country women to get picked and break through via Idol and elsewhere. Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift and others said she did. The problem is country radio refusing to play many great female songs available to them while playing too many weak songs and pure crap from men.

  • Matthew Richards

    For me, the women in country music now are so much more interesting than the men. Between Carrie, Kellie, Miranda, Martina, Jana Kramer, Kacey Musgraves, Jennifer Nettles, and that girl from the Band Perry, it’s one hell of a party. Country music needs three things right now. First, I’d like to see some black women in country, where are they at? Second, I want to see Skylar Laine release an album. Third, I want Loretta to release another comeback album and kick these boys to the curb!

  • Matthew Richards

    A lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time coming. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9kJgSPrd_8

  • deshae78

    Well I don’t care for country music in general, but when I do like it, it’s always by a female.