Blend In Bias
The 90s Were Nice But We've Moved On
There is just something about hearing your song on the radio. It is the stuff of childhood dreams. It’s a sign that you’re on your way. It is literally what you call home about… and have someone film and then post to social media so everyone else can see it too. (Coooontent!) Come on, we all know the drill and love the super sweet celebrations from artists when it happens to them.
But there is something else about the experience that’s worth noting. Most songs start to sound like they “belong” on radio when they are being heard on radio…
The Dixie Chicks Didn't Cause The Decline
Or have we? That’s really the whole problem, right? We haven’t moved on.
In fact, we’ve regressed. Country radio is entering yet another decade and has somehow managed to play drastically less women than it was playing when mullets were unironically the hairstyle of choice. We like to imagine that our coifs have improved since the mid-1990s. Likewise, we are desperate to believe that we’ve evolved as people enough to know that men and women are equal, discrimination and prejudice are bad, and opportunities and outcomes should be based on merit…
Repeat after us: The Dixie Chicks didn’t cause the decline of women on country radio.
The Chicks made their controversial comments in 2003. Acknowledging that the initial changes in radio’s approach began in the late 1990s means recognizing a roughly 5-7 year period when the other possible, and arguably more plausible, causes were taking root and gaining strongholds across more stations…
Follow us for any amount of time and you’ll hear something over and over: familiarity first.
Familiarity is one of the reasons we put increased emphasis on the impact of radio in advancing women in country music. Listeners respond to what is familiar. How many times have you heard a new on song the radio and hated it right out of the gate? Now, think about how many times you’ve caught yourself humming or singing along to that same song a few weeks later after hearing it just enough times…
When speaking about the lack of inclusion for women in country music, the most common response that advocates and artists give when asked “how did we get here?” is often some version of, “I don’t know but something needs to change…”
As with all large-scale, systemic problems, the honest answer is likely hundreds of big and little happenings that, when combined, all helped create the current culture. Women didn’t fall off the chart overnight because of one singular action. There isn’t one person or group to “blame”. If anything, almost every aspect of the industry has been complicit in some form or another. If anyone should be held accountable, it’s all of us…
Lay Off The Bros
It’s hard to fix a problem that we don’t diagnose. Knowing what might have caused any challenge is an integral part of curing it for the long term.
So, what are they? What types of things changed over the last 20 years that could have had such a negative impact on the careers of women in country music?
Short and sweet…
Why we don’t believe “Bro-Country” is the cause of country radio’s lack of women and don’t really think you should either.
Also, a general reminder that gender is not a trend.