“You Don’t Play Women” Is The Hardest Thing To Explain

I’ve written on this a lot, but apparently, it’s not enough.  It’s never enough.

If you care, here are my past articles on it:

Here’s the e-mail that we got that spawned this article.

I listen to Tony, Jake , and Jenn every morning on my way to work, love the show, but a few months ago I heard on of the boys say something that still bugs me. He said the reason the station doesn’t play a lot of female artists because is essence the radio stats say so, and maybe it is because a male voice just sounds better to the ear…ect. I am a 29 year old female who loves everything about country music old and new, and sings it, Professionally.
Because I enjoy listening to this radio show every morning, and truly think this award winning segment can make a dent, I am asking you to please play more female artists. Saying they don’t make that ” stats” is BS, since when has country music ever given a shit about the status quo, album of the year Kacey Musgraves, Tenille Townes, Pistol Annies, Maddie & Tae “Die From a Broken Heart”…. Seriously. Your biggest market is women and you aren’t playing any. You want to be a county music station? Prove it. County is a genre because people who listen relate. Show the eff up.
Dorothy (Name Changed)

Let’s go through this e-mail together.

  • “…the station doesn’t play a lot of female artists because is essence the radio stats say so, and maybe it is because a male voice just sounds better to the ear…”  This is true.  I did say this, but it’s a very minor part of a very big cycle.  The whole explanation is in one of the blogs above (this one), but the short answer is that it’s a self-perpetuating cycle (money follows success, and if the balance gets off, which it has, then all the money is suddenly on one side).
  • “Saying they don’t make that ” stats” is BS…”  It’s not.  The stats consistently bear out that male voices test better than female voices right now.  Next week?  Who knows.  But right now, it’s just the honest truth, and it’s nobody’s fault.
  • “…since when has country music ever given a shit about the status quo”  OK.  I like your point here.  The stats say one thing, but we might not be hurt by being “country rebel” and going against that.  In fact, we might even be rewarded for it.  It’s not a good chance, but it’s certainly a possibility.
  • “…album of the year Kacey Musgraves”  You and I agree that Kacey Musgraves is one of the best things we’ve got right now.  But (and this is so important to remember) you & I are both country music experts, and not everybody is.  Country experts make up the Country Music Association (who votes on that award), and that’s why she won.  She’s great; I agree.  But if you play her stuff for our audience at large, a lot of people change the station.  I’d LOVE to be able to shout out her talent on the air, but if nobody is listening, it doesn’t do much good.  I hate it, but it’s true.  The audience has certain tastes, and if we want to stay on the air, we have to reflect those trends.
  • “Your biggest market is women and you aren’t playing any.”  I genuinely want to keep you in this discussion, so please know I’m being respectful when I say…  that’s a false equivalency.  An audience doesn’t have to match the artist.  The Bachelorette has 30 dudes and one woman, but it’s mostly women that watch that show.  Strip clubs hire only women, but it’s almost exclusively men in the audience (you may say that’s different, but if you think about it, not really).  The artist doesn’t have to match the audience; it’s the art that usually does.  It’s not like women can’t write music that men relate to, right?  Same thing the other way.
  • “Country is a genre because people who listen relate.”  That is what DEFINES country music in my mind.  But like I said above, the person singing it doesn’t have to look like me for that to happen.
  • “Show the eff up.”  I really didn’t like that little zinger on the end there.

Now, I don’t mean to pass the buck here, but keep in mind that this “cycle” I was talking about is not limited to just radio.  There are simply less females coming out of Nashville right now.  When we get our music, it generally comes from a service where the record labels upload really high-quality versions of the songs, and we download them.  Here’s a screen shot from the very first page of that website.

Out of the 18 most recent tracks we’ve received from the labels, you can see that only 3 of them are by females.  I don’t like it any more than you do, but as I’ve explained, it’s a cycle that is really feeding itself right now.  Country listeners are trending toward male voices right now.  It is what it is.  You could argue that we could take some more risks and try to push some females, but they’d be risks.  Risks that we have to answer for if our ratings drop.  We can do some of that, but we have rent to pay too.

I really love what I do.  I love being able to make an impact on the community, I love having fun and making jokes in the morning, and I love the people who listen to this station.  And Dorothy, I genuinely love you for listening.  We’re going to keep the door open for females, and we’re going to back them when they catch the attention of our audience, I promise.

You keep pushing, and we’ll keep searching, OK?


~Jake from 98.7 The Bull



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