The way Jennifer Nettles sees it, the climate for women in country music has to get better soon.
“There is a systemic bias that has happened, where adages like ‘Oh, women don’t want to hear other women have actually turned into business policies of ‘We don’t play two women back to back on country radio,’ so the ecosystem has now been made so toxic...” Nettles said on Friday’s episode of Today With Hoda and Jenna. “These artists, women artists don’t get the support on radio, then they don’t get the support on tour… it’s a cycle, a really vicious cycle.”
A study that Dr. Jada Watson, of the University of Ottawa, released in February revealed that tunes by women accounted for just 10 percent of the songs on the Billboard’s Yearend Airplay Chart in 2019. The data was an update of similarly dismal numbers Watson uncovered last April.
Nettles told hosts Jenna Bush Hager and her guest co-host, Maria Shriver, that she’s optimistic change is coming when it comes to gender parity in the genre.
“I don’t think this will be able to last much longer, because the imbalance is so extreme and because people are now becoming educated and informed,” Nettles said. “For a long time, people didn’t know.”
Nettles brought attention to the issue in November when she walked the red carpet at the Country Music Association Awards wearing a train that read, “Play our f****n records, please and thank you” on one side and “Equal play” on the other.
“I thought, you know, this is the CMAS, they’re gonna be celebrating women this year,” Nettles said, noting that this year’s show paid tribute to the genre’s female icons. “I want to let it be known... we’re not just gonna check the boxes and be like, ‘Yay! Look how good we celebrate, look how well we celebrate women,’ because in the country [music] industry, there’s a huge gender bias, and we actually do not.”
An audience member asked Nettles how people could support the women of country music other than by requesting their music at radio stations and buying their work.
The Sugarland star suggested that fans can help by purchasing tickets to see women play music. And they can add female artists to their playlists on streaming services, so the services understand listeners like those songs and play these artists even more.
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