The Country Radio Climb: How Are Major Labels Serving New Acts, Male & Female?

Introduction
The difficult environment at country radio for sole female talent was been a topic of regular discussion here, cropping up in discussions of why experienced artists like Emily West and Sarah Darling would compete on the current seasons of America’s Got Talent and Rising Star, respectively, and in the explanation for why the talented American Idol Season 12 runner-up Kree Harrison remains unsigned. It’s an issue that country superstar and American Idol Season 4 champ Carrie Underwood, country radio’s strongest and most consistent female hitmaker of the Soundscan era (with a streak of 17 consecutive top-2 country hits, including 16 #1s), has taken up, along with Season 5 Idol finalist and Season 16 Dancing With The Stars champ Kellie Pickler, a country star in her own right.

As the industry has grappled with this topic, we’ve cycled through some unconvincing and sometimes flat out wrong explanations referring to sales & distinctive material. We’ve also seen the argument that it’s just that there are simply more male acts out there, as if that isn’t the product of a self-fulfilling cycle, and that’s the explanation that I want to address here.

So I looked at what used to be the big 4: Capitol Nashville (which is now part of UMG Nashville, but was its own major until 2012, comprised of Capitol Nashville & EMI Nashville), Sony Nashville (currently comprised of Arista Nashville, Columbia Nashville, and RCA Nashville), Warner Nashville (comprised of Warner Brothers Nashville, Elektra Nashville, Atlantic Nashville, and now, WEA), and UMG Nashville (comprised of MCA Nashville and Mercury Nashville), plus Big Machine Label Group, which is effectively another major (and which includes Repubic Nashville, a joint venture with Universal Republic, plus Big Machine Records, Valory Records, and the newly relaunched Dot Records). I’m focusing on the major labels because they have the most resources and the best relationships with country radio (I did compile supplementary statistics for Curb Records and Broken Bow Records and can post them for anybody curious – their success rates don’t change the observations below).

I looked at the names and numbers of solo acts each label has promoted to radio, focusing on baby acts who have charted for the 1st time as solo acts on the country airplay chart in 2008 or later. Why 2008? Because 2007 was the last year a non-established female scored her 1st 2 consecutive t20 country hits: Taylor Swift (Big Machine Records) did it with “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops On My Guitar,” Miranda Lambert (now RCA Nashville) did it with “Famous In A Small Town” and “Gunpowder & Lead,” and Kellie Pickler (formerly of Sony Nashville’s BNA imprint) did it with “Red High Heels” and “I Wonder.” Taylor has of course gone on to become a mostly pop superstar, Miranda is now a core country radio act, and Kellie is a critically acclaimed indie act who hasn’t seen a t40 country radio peak since 2011’s “Tough” (which scratched out a t30 peak). 2007 was also significant for country radio today in that Luke Bryan spent most of the year achieving his first t20 (which was also his first t5) hit, and he is country’s best selling star right now. So 2008 seems like the right year to start in thinking about the environment at country radio for nurturing a new round of superstars.

So who and how many have come through the system in the past 6 1/2 years? Are more male acts breaking through at radio just because there are more men? Are certain labels having more success with developing females than others? Let’s go to the numbers…

The Data
Here’s the data in aggregate form:

Major Labels & New Solo Acts-Performance Since 2008-Top 20 Hits

This table shows us a few things. The 1st is obvious: the big labels have had a much higher success rate at scoring a t20 single for a debuting male act than a debuting female act. Another notable stat: Sony Nashville has made the most attempts since 2008 to bring new solo female and male developing acts to country radio, which may point to higher willingness to greenlight promotion for new talent. But its overall success rate is the lowest of the 5 big labels (it is the only label with a sub-50% success rate when it comes to solo male developing acts scoring their 1st t20 hits). Capitol Nashville has not landed a t20 single for a solo female act in the time period considered (the drought actually extends longer than that).

Big Machine Label Group has an impressively high success rate at landing a t20 single for both debuting solo male *AND* solo female acts, which is especially good news for RaeLynn, whose debut single “God Made Girls” has had a strong 1st month out (it’s at #37 after 4 weeks charting). In fact, take BMLG females out of the picture, and the rest of the labels combined for only 5 out of 22 debuting solo females scoring their 1st t20 hit from 2008-present (or a paltry 23% success rate). A deeper dive into the list of artists promoted tells us why Big Machine Label Group’s success rate with females is so much higher than that of other labels – it has to do with whether those females are coming to radio with a pre-existing fanbase, a subject raised here. Still, Big Machine has fared no better than the rest of the big labels in achieving a 2nd t20 hit for solo females coming off their 1st t20 hit.

More on that issue to come. But first, let’s look more closely at the list of debuting solo acts promoted by the big labels to country radio from 2008-present, and how they fared. Included are a few additional notes on acts who weren’t included on the lists but whose progress or lack thereof is arguably relevant to the time period considered.

The List: Who Have Music Row’s Biggest Labels Brought To Country Radio Since 2008?

Capitol/EMI Nashville

Capitol Nashville New Females, 2008-Present

Note: Female artist Mickey Guyton has been on the Capitol Nashville roster for years but has not yet had a single released to country radio.

Capitol Nashville New Males, 2008-Present

Sony Nashville

Sony Nashville New Females, 2008-Present

(Note: Sarah Johns first charted in 2007, Jordyn Shellhart was in development for a long time but parted ways with the label without anything being released)

Sony Nashville New Males, 2008-Present

(Note: Ronnie Dunn charted in 1983 as a solo country act, Kix Brooks had never charted in the Billboard t60 as a solo country act, Chris Young scored his 1st t20 hit in 2008, but had previously charted)

UMG Nashville (not including Capitol/EMI Nashville)

UMG Nashville New Females, 2008-Present

UMG Nashville New Males, 2008-Present

Warner Nashville

Warner Nashville New Females, 2008-Present

(Note: Ashley Monroe has not had a single promoted to radio by Warner Nashville)

Warner Nashville New Males, 2008-Present

Big Machine Label Group

Big Machine Label Group New Females, 2008-Present

Big Machine Label Group New Males, 2008-Present

The Effect Of Pre-Existing Fanbases
As mentioned, 4 out of the 5 debuting solo females that Big Machine Label Group has brought to the market came to radio with pre-existing fanbases: Jewel was a pop superstar before coming over to country, while Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery are both Voice winners (Pope also had a pre-existing fanbase from her days fronting pop/punk band Hey Monday). Hayden Panettiere is a well known TV actress, and her single was performed & promoted on the show where she is co-lead.

But BMLG is not the only label to try to leverage existing fanbases into female country radio airplay. All but 2 of the 9 solo female developing acts who scored their 1st t20 from 2008-present came to country radio with a fanbase: Jessica Simpson and Sheryl Crow all came over from pop/adult pop, Julianne Hough had a fanbase from Dancing With The Stars, and Jana Kramer was known from her time on One Tree Hill. Even Kacey Musgraves at least had some name recognition from her time on Nashville Star, though she and Sunny Sweeney are the 2 I’m counting as females who scored their 1st t20 hits without significant pre-existing fanbases.

A prior fanbase is not a guarantee though: neither Panettiere, Kristy Lee Cook, Jennette McCurdy, Kelly Clarkson, nor Jennifer Nettles has scored a solo t20 hit, and that’s despite Clarkson and Nettles having multi-platinum pasts and high industry regard. But 7 out of the 12 females with pre-existing fanbases who were promoted as new solo females at country radio from 2008-present scored their 1st t20 hit, and that 58% success rate much higher than the success rate for females without pre-existing fanbases (13%). It’s also comparable to the success rate for males introducing themselves to country radio since 2008. No wonder Sarah Darling and Emily West have made their way onto talent competitions this summer.

Pre-existing fanbases played out in a mixed fashion for the solo guys debuting at country radio from 2008-present. Darius Rucker (formerly of Hootie & The Blowfish), Scotty McCreery (the Season 10 Idol champ), Casey James (the #3 finisher in Idol‘s Season 9), Josh Kelley (who had 2 previous t10 HAC hits), and Chase Rice (Survivor runner-up) were able to score t20 hits. But Kix Brooks (half of the legendary country duo, Brooks & Dunn), Danny Gokey (#3 finisher in Idol’s Season 8), Christian Kane (who was well known from his time playing a major character on TV’s Angel), Canaan Smith (Amazing Race competitor) and Tate Stevens (the inaugural X Factor US champ) were not.

Solo male acts coming to country radio with prior exposure had a success rate of 50% achieving their 1st t20 hit between 2008 and the present, slightly lower than the 58% success rate of solo male acts without prior exposure who 1st came to country radio between 2008 and 2014. The success rates are even closer to each other with the additions of Chris Young (a Nashville Star winner who scored his 1st t20 hit in 2008 via Sony Nashville) and Lee Brice (who 1st charted in 2007 but gained his 1st t20 song in 2009, via mid-sized label Curb Records).

Consolidating Success
But not even pre-existing fanbases have helped solo females introducing themselves to country radio consolidate initial airplay success. As bad as the disparity between the success rates of debuting solo females and debuting solo males in scoring their 1st t20 hits at country radio is, the disparity between solo females and solo males promoted to country radio and achieving their 1st 2 t20 hits from 2008-present is even worse:

Consolidating Airplay Success, 2008-Present
*NOTE: Not included are acts with singles currently charting but outside the t20: Musgraves, Pope, Ballard, and Pardi, and also Rice and Hunt because they are still on their 1st singles for Columbia Nashville and MCA Nashville, respectively. Of these, Ballard looks like he’s on his way to another t20 hit. Also, Casey James is a borderline case in that his debut single peaked at #21 Billboard but made t20 on Mediabase/Country Aircheck (his follow-up single made t20 on both charts). I’m including him in the group with 2 or more t20 hits. *8/4/2014 update: Cassadee Pope’s current single has peaked, so that makes Big Machine Label Group 0 for 4 since 2008 in its attempts to land a 2nd t20 hit for a solo female achieving her 1st, and newcomer solo females 0 for 8 since 2008 in achieving a 2nd t20 hit after achieving their 1st.

You are reading this correctly: not a single solo female act who has introduced herself via any label to country radio since 2008 has followed a t20 hit with another, compared to an 84% successful follow-up rate for solo males at country radio.

Concluding Thoughts
This has mostly been a descriptive exercise, aimed at showing that while it’s true that the big labels have brought more solo males to country radio than solo females since 2008, the success rate for solo females scoring even their 1st t20 hit, never mind their 2nd, has been disproportionately low (females comprise 40% of the debuting solo acts promoted to country radio since 2008, but only 28% of those scoring their 1st t20 hit and 0% of those scoring their 2nd). Pre-existing fanbases raise a solo female’s odds of hitting the t20 once significantly, but haven’t yet translated into a real commitment by country radio to participation in a developing solo female act’s career.

Why does this matter? As mentioned above, the difficulties of breaking new females at country radio have impacted major label willingness to sign and promote new females. Warner artist Ashley Monroe had one of 2013’s most acclaimed albums, but Warner Nashville didn’t bother promoting a single to country radio. Brandy Clark’s 12 Stories is also one of 2013’s most acclaimed albums in any genre, an album that was passed on after consideration Capitol Nashville and Warner Nashville. Kellie Pickler had one of 2012’s best-reviewed country albums, and she parted ways with Sony Nashville 6 months after its release. The bottleneck at country radio risks the creation of a bottleneck at the major label level. And so the cycle continues…

Turning to the question of why this is happening, I’ve argued that this is about country radio overserving a target demographic of younger male rock radio refugees. In this recent Rolling Stone Country article about hit songwriting, hitmaker Craig Wiseman reinforced this argument:

Forty percent of the active rock males have abandoned that format and come over to country.

Fellow hitmaker Shane Minor agreed, saying:

The core country music listener is probably the guys that lost rock & roll before Nirvana came along and the hair bands [died out]. So, we’re probably the closest things they have.

Rock radio’s gender imbalance is even worse than country radio’s, so the audience migrating to country from that format is not likely to welcome female voices. As the rock radio audience started to decline in the early 2000s, some rock stations “started to eliminate women from their audience research.” While country radio isn’t there yet and hopefully never will be, it seems clear that country radio has made a deliberate choice to cater to an audience that leans towards the party-hard excesses of rock & hair metal, to the detriment of female acts and fans who respond to them. Country radio programmers will say their ratings are great and they’re playing what’s popular, but that’s only part of the story. They have actively chosen not to reach out to other country music demos within their reach, resulting in playlists that sound like this:

The consequences of the resulting “bro country” culture, which has proven a difficult environment not only for female artists but females in general, are now beyond just record label deals, careers not taking off, and music that sounds the same. There are increased reports of drunken misbehavior and worse at big venue country concerts this summer, the worst so far being the death of an “extremely intoxicated” fan at a Jason Aldean concert and the alleged rape of a 17 year old young woman at a Keith Urban concert, which took place with bystanders taking photos and video-taping the incident amid what police categorized as a “mass casualty” event caused by “alcohol-related issues.” As the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle reported:

The issues at Urban’s show stemmed from safety officials being outnumbered by concertgoers and that country music now attracts a much younger crowd than it did in years past, [Selectman chair George] Dentino said.

“They were totally outnumbered. It was a real party atmosphere,” he said. “Country always gives us a problem lately.”

All this points to a multi-faceted need for the country industry and country radio in particular to course-correct. Here’s hoping. It’s time.

  • Spurrious

    Windmills you have out done yourself. The story and data quantifies and confirms what many of us have felt to be true. Thank you. I suspect this will be the nexus of discussion and the source of quotes all over the digital country world in the coming days. Kudos!

  • Amy Beth

    I don’t remember if it was you or someone else who posted it, but the most telling thing was the Celebrity Apprentice video. It was from April 2010 and it featured “up and coming” country artists Luke Bryan and Emily West.

    It was a really painful reminder of their very different career trajectories since then.

  • girlygirl

    very interesting, and sobering, info. Great job!

  • CB40

    That youtube clip was amazingly hilarious and sad all at the same time.

  • jan

    Fascinating. I think that you have made an interesting correlation between country radio deliberately courting the male rock demographic and current problems at some country concerts.

  • CanadianLady

    Wow! What a lot of work. Very sad. I used to listen to country radio virtually all the time and then I basically gave up. I now listen to the sports channel. Go figure.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Fascinating!

    So when a new male solo act has his first top-20 country radio hit, radio PDs almost always embrace his next song… but when a new female solo act has hers, PDs dismiss the next song anyway.

    A situation where even doing everything right gives you zero traction is pretty depressing.

  • Amy Beth

    For the boys, it’s like “welcome to the club”.

    For the girls, it’s like “we gave you a hit, now leave us alone”.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Well put!

    I was reminded of all the studies on how men’s success is attributed to talent, while women’s success is attributed to luck, but I couldn’t figure a way to phrase it right.

  • Ann Stark

    Well you might want to include a female video with all the ladies just singing about busting up her mans truck for cheating or dig 2 graves because her mans cheating or got my shot gun gun powder and lead or never ever ever ever getting back together shall i go on it go’s both ways ladies music in 2013 was just as bad .

  • Mateja Praznik

    LOL, keep making excuses, the numbers don’t lie.

  • Johnny Murfree

    Well done!

    As someone else said, this quantifies what many have suspected about the current country radio environment. The shutting out of female artists like Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Kellie Pickler, Ashley Monroe, and others has been a *massive* loss for mainstream country music artistically.

    Thank you for putting in the time and effort to produce this article.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Well you might want to include a female video with all the ladies just singing about busting up her mans truck for cheating or dig 2 graves because her mans cheating or got my shot gun gun powder and lead or never ever ever ever getting back together shall i go on it go’s both ways ladies music in 2013 was just as bad .

    Huh? “Before He Cheats” was from 2005. “Gunpowder and Lead” was from 2007. Both artists had current hits circa 2013 with different songs than those.

    Blaming Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, and The Band Perry’s hits for why women’s songs weren’t getting traction doesn’t even follow.

    In any case, it doesn’t seem likely that every second single from every female artist launched after 2008 would be such drek that radio PDs would refuse to play it, while virtually every second single from every new male artist would be undeniable. A&R can be weird, but there ought to have been some exceptions just by accident.

  • lkingcorn

    I posted sometime back that female

  • Ann Stark

    NO i agree with the article completely that women are getting a raw deal in country radio and i happen to love all those songs I listed Carrie, Miranda,and Taylor I like all of those women I’m not blaming them for anything . I guess what I’m upset about is the video of so called bro country I’ts like that’s all they think was the music the men came out with when it clearly was not plenty of really great songs that men released . The ladies music was very dark like 2 black Cadillac’s ‘Blown away ‘Better dig 2 . I like those songs but they were very depressing .

  • Lexie O’Neill

    So very impressed with the research and so saddened by what’s happening to country music.

  • Kamary Bradan

    WOW. I wish Windmills observations would be noted all over the digital country world. But more than likely, the producers and money makers will continue down this degrading road until the formula dries up and the money goes with it. Just like the TV Singing REALITY shows… Run the concept in the ground and copy it so many times that you are beyond “NOT INTERESTED.” After the last horrible MEAN season of Idol– the predictable and pre-ordained “Voice” — and the God awful Rising Star I DETEST the idea of another season.

  • gem2477

    It’s sad to know that the newest successful country artist is Taylor, but she isn’t country. Carrie and Miranda, the other two that get airplay, have been out for 10 years.

  • Bradley Olson

    In the case of Ashley Monroe, the Real Country network did briefly play “We Ain’t Dolly” (the duet with Blake Shelton) due to the references to Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, while there were videos for “Like a Rose” and “Weed Instead of Roses” on one of the radio download services simply sent us the whole album rather than promoting singles.

  • LeoCS

    Just curious: is there some kind of research like this in pop music?

  • dd999

    This is a really good article. I especially liked the video. I’ve felt for a long time the music the guys sing, is the same old, same old! It looks like the labels feed off each other. If someone, say Luke Bryon has a hit, look out all the rest copy with a similar vibe and topic! It really gets boring after a while and no one song stands out. Loving that Randy Travis has released a new music video ‘Don’t Worry Bout Me’ …such a great voice. Also, gotta say Scotty’s ‘Blue Jean Baby’ is one of my favorites on his album…its different! As for the girls, I don’t appreciate a lot of the angry songs. I’d really like to hear from Kree Harrison ( no booze song) and I think Danielle Bradbery can also come up with some great songs. Love both their voices!!!

  • kcostell

    Different genre of music, but if you’re a fan of quizzes on Sporcle there’s an interesting one at http://www.sporcle.com/games/TimMierz/women-in-alternative-1s-clips . Every female vocalist ever to hit #1 on the Alternative charts, whether as a solo singer, duet, leader of a band, or even featured vocalist on someone else’s song.

    In all those categories combined, there was a grand total of ONE female who topped the alternative charts in the entire period between 1999 and 2011.

  • RedMountainRanch

    But this isn’t a new trend. Country music has always been heavily dominated by white men with one ethnic singer and anywhere from 2 – 10 women making it into the top 40 with a few token # 1 hits. In the 80s it was largely Reba, Dolly and Tanya Tucker. The 90s were Reba, Trisha Yearwood, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and a few token girls who saw the charts for one or two singles (a trend that continued through the 2000s) Neal McCoy and Charlie Pride are about as ethnic as the charts got before Darius.

  • L. R. M. L.

    ALMOST ALWAYS is the key word. For some it definitely doesn’t happen.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    Noting that a very few male acts don’t get the second hit doesn’t somehow turn the 100% failure rate for women into gender parity and fairness.

    If the follow-up hit rate was 60% for men and 40% for women, I could see saying “hey, small sample, the difference could be explained by individual circumstances.” But when it’s 85% for men and ZERO for women, that’s likely systemic.

  • standtotheright

    Basically, people who cater to perceived 18-35 year old male preferences believe that said preferences are narrow and kind of awful. (Whether or not that is a reasonable assessment, and whether or not that in turn justifies catering to those preferences, are separate questions.)

  • standtotheright

    I hope this gets the attention in deserves in PD meetings across the country.

  • Kizmet311

    The 90s had so many female artists and there has been a significant decline since the 90s/early 2000s. You talk about a few “token” girls, but you haven’t even mentioned consistent hit makers Faith Hill and Martina McBride, or the obvious global superstar – Shania Twain. What about Jo Dee Messina? The ladies may have had it tough before the 90s, but they made a real breakthrough in that decade with consistent hit singles (not a few token girls with one or two hits as you say). It’s a shame that the “trend” from the 90s and early 2000s didn’t continue after Carrie, Miranda, and Taylor hit the scene.

  • ptebwwong

    Great write-up windmills! It was very informative about the state of country radio on new acts specifically female solo artists. I don’t like that bro-country has taken over. But what I really dislike is that artists who weren’t bro-country in the first place feel the need to try to do it to to get a hit or to “attract new fans.” For example, it sounds like Brad Paisley’s new album will have some bro-country songs. There’s really a problem when A-listers who are usually far from bro-country type music are trying the trend.

  • Kizmet311

    I did some research on the 90s – the real change for women came in the mid-90s. I looked at the Wikipedia data for Billboard Hot Country Songs in 1996. There were 28 songs that hit #1 that year – TWELVE (43%) of them were by solo female acts. That seems like a fantasy compared to how the country charts are now. I’m not even counting the ones that may have had multiple Top 20 hits, as this article uses.

  • L. R. M. L.

    Only wanted to point out that it’s not 100% for men either.

    Totally agree with you on the difference in ratio. Cheering for a couple of the women to break through.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    If you look at contributors to success in any industry, it’s really unlikely you’ll see any factor have a 100% success rate. Perfect correlations on a single factor aren’t something nature likes! So the “one radio hit makes the next one easier to get” rule doesn’t have to always work to be a good one to follow — it just needs to work more often than not.

  • L. R. M. L.

    Yes. Understand it is a general rule.

    As well going against the grain (or doing it your way) may somewhat slow the process to move up the charts if you’re not an A-Lister (male or female).

    Some of the right people are warming up now. Hard business to be in.

  • ptebwwong

    Country music has always been male dominated, but it’s never been this bad. In the 90’s, it wasn’t this tough for female solo artists to even reach Top 40 on the charts. Here is a list of the Top 40 hits according to the Billboard Country Airplay charts from female solo artists in 2013:

    – Carrie Underwood “See You Again” – #2
    – Carrie Underwood “Two Black Cadillacs” – #2
    – Taylor Swift “Red” – #2
    – Miranda Lambert “All Kinds Of Kinds” – #15
    – Miranda Lambert “Mama’s Broken Heart” – #2
    – Kacey Musgraves “Merry Go ‘Round” – #10
    – Jana Kramer “Whiskey” – #25
    – Danielle Bradbery “The Heart of Dixie” – #12
    – Cassadee Pope “Wasting All These Tears” – #10
    – Maggie Rose “Better” – #30
    – Sheryl Crow “Easy” – #17
    – Jennifer Nettles “That Girl” – #37
    – Leah Turner “Take the Keys”- #37
    – Kelly Clarkson “Tie It Up” – #33

    That means in 2013 even counting the 3 female stars (Carrie, Miranda, & Taylor) there were less than 15 songs that reached Top 40 for female solo artists. If you don’t count the 3 stars, there were less than 10 songs. There’s a problem when counting the stars there’s only this amount of songs from female artists reaching Top 40.

    FYI: I didn’t count anything where a male artist is featured or there as a duet (Ex. Taylor & Tim, Keith & Miranda).

  • Eileen99

    Lots of detail here, WM, nice job compiling all this information.

    Despite the lack of success for females at radio, I do think the labels are still trying. Almost every edition of Country Aircheck has one or more ads for new solo female artists, most of whom I’ve never heard of. So, they’re still trying, which is good. Maybe they’re looking for the next big sound to kick off a new phase of country music and hoping one of these women has something that will capture the imagination.

    I do think the current phase has peaked or is close to it, and people are getting restless/looking for something new. Downloads of the new FGL and Jason Aldean lead singles show these acts are still hugely popular, so I doubt these artists are going away any time soon (although both lead singles are quite different from past releases, so maybe a nod to the changing times/feeling restless themselves?).

    Anyway – impressive work on this & thank you.

  • windmills

    Yup, that was me. And I couldn’t agree more.

  • windmills

    Thanks. Because the article was already so long, I left out the fact that Ashley Monroe had hired an independent radio promotion group called Crescendo Music for country radio promotion. Singles “Like A Rose” and “You Got Me” mostly got satellite radio airplay on Sirius/XM The Highway. The point here was that she did not receive major label promotion for a single to country radio, which in and of itself says something about the environment at country radio with respect to both non-established female acts and traditional country (though “You Got Me” was IMO contemporary enough to fit mainstream playlists).

  • Happyhexer

    Thanks for your hard work on this, Windmills. It’s just so majorly depressing. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I had kind of a twitter argument with the PD of my formerly favorite monitored country radio station. I complained about the lack of female voices on country radio (other than Carrie, Miranda, and Taylor). He came back with the usual dribble. “We play what’s popular.” Then he gave me Kimberly Perry as an example of a female voice. I said I was talking solo acts. He came back with Sheryl Crow. I pointed out she was an established artist (albeit not necessarily in the country genre. He invited me to continue the conversation, but what was the point? I can’t listen to the station anymore. It’s all bro country, ALL the time. I do more station surfing now. The only country station I listen to regularly anymore is a nonmonitored station that plays a wider variety, including nonestablished artists of both sexes. I won’t say that it plays a ton of females, but the difference is very noticeable. And speaking of which . . .

  • Happyhexer

    Windmills, have you heard the new song “Girl in a Country Song” by teenage duo Maddie & Tae, or seen the video for it? The video debuted on NPR, of all places for a country video:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2014/07/24/334449203/first-watch-maddie-tae-girl-in-a-country-song. Hilarious! I first heard the song on that nonmonitored country station that I mentioned, which plays some female artists whose names are not Carrie, Miranda, or Taylor. (I haven’t been around MJs for a while, so I apologize if the song has been a topic of conversation.)

  • Happyhexer

    I know that there are a ton of female artists who never break into even the top 40 (much less the top 20), because I hear their songs on the new music surveys (and many songs are quite good), but I never hear them on the radio. So I’ve learned to buy from what I hear on the surveys. Speaking of which, Windmills, do you know anything about Olivia Lane? I did an NCC survey of her music, and I really liked her.

  • Happyhexer

    Last post, I promise! I have bookmarked this page. (Love the ammunition.) Do you think MJ would mind if I tweeted a link to your article?

  • windmills

    Yes, I embedded a link to their video in the post (last paragraph: “females in general”) – ITA, hilarious song, funny video, and it’s actually going to make Mediabase t40 this afternoon in its 3rd week since going for adds (it’s also t20 Itunes Country after spending some time in the t10 Itunes Country this week).

    I prefer the acoustic version of the song (they purposely went for bro country production because those are the songs they’re mocking) but I love that the song is so pointed & snarky. There’s hope that if Scott Borchetta’s greenlit this song for promo, then the industry’s ready to move on from our long bro country nightmare. It definitely has a ton of buzz – almost 3.5 million views of the video and it’s selling well early. Hopefully it’ll be a hit too!

  • windmills

    I think MJ and I would both be honored if you shared the article. Thanks!

  • windmills

    To be honest, I learned about her the same way you did. But yea, I like Olivia’s single “Steal Me Away.” Unsigned artist, as far as I know, but she has a manager. She’s on a radio tour around Texas right now (she’s a Texas native), so I’d guess the hope is to build up some buzz for the song and maybe attract the attention of a potential label partner, even if it is just for Texas regional radio (which has its own chart, and doesn’t have much female representation either).

  • Happyhexer

    The survey was to decide on a single, but I didn’t know what got chosen. I don’t remember how I rated the songs either. I just know when I finished the survey, I made a point of writing down the name of the artist. I wish her luck. She’s gonna need it.

  • Happyhexer

    Okay, so now you know I didn’t click on every link in your article. *blush* It was late at night when I read it, what can I say? But I did read through your article pretty thoroughly. (And clicked on the “Why Country Music was Awful in 2013″ video.) Made me very melancholy and depressed. Didn’t start listening to country music until 2010, and even since then, I’ve noticed a precipitous drop in how often I hear female voices on country radio. *sigh*

    I hope some of the other posters here will check out Maddie & Tae’s video. So hilarious!

  • Happyhexer

    Well, I tweeted it. I couldn’t help myself. I am mad as hell about this.