Lay Off The Bros
“Bro-Country”, the term, was first coined by Jody Rosen in New York magazine - in 2013.
In Change Matters, we outline four factors that began impacting women’s representation in country music decades before that. We focused on systems within the radio industry itself that were more likely to have caused our current deep rooted issues than just some relatively new shift to a certain sound.
We believe the rise of “Bro-Country”, as it relates to this issue - which is less about a sound style and more about inequality of opportunity between women and men- is mostly a symptom rather than a cause. “Bro-Country” was given more of an opportunity to succeed in an industry searching to fill rotation, and therefore chart, spaces that had once been occupied by more women.
As stations began significantly tightening the airplay that they were giving women, men were able to be heard more. The “Bro-Country” sound had more of an opportunity to emerge. It ended up resonating with a subset of fans and the industry began chasing after what they saw to be a new trend.
Gender is not a trend. The vast majority of listeners don’t dismiss music from entire gender groups. Not only would it not be very logical to assume that they do, but fans frequently remind us that they have the capacity to, and do, like music from all genders.
The “Bro-Country” sound trend isn’t a cause to country radio’s lack of women. It’s much more likely that it simply became an unintended result.
So, lay off the bros. And add women back in.