Charlie Cook On Air: Where Are the Women?

Why do females struggle to find chart success in our format? Particularly when the No. 1 seller is Taylor Swift. Carrie Underwood has had 15 No. 1 records and sold millions of CDs. Miranda Lambert is a legitimate chart performer and CD seller but it really doesn’t go much deeper.

I looked at Mediabase information for 2012 and Miranda was the most played female, coming in at No. 16 with “Over You.” Carrie’s “Good Girl” came in at No. 24 and “Ours” by Taylor was No. 26. Newcomer Jana Kramer was at No. 29 with “Why Ya Wanna.”

That is only four females in the top 30 most played songs in the first 9 months of 2012.

When you look at the five finalists for the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year award, some would say they had to step a little outside of the format to round out the category.

The ACM has to move in and out of New Female vocalist of the year because most years there are not enough candidates that qualify.

Look at AC Music on the radio.

Thirteen of the top 30 played songs in that format are by female artists. To be fair, those 13 songs are done by only seven different women.

In CHR, 12 of the top 30 songs are by females. Again, a limited number of different women/girls, but 9 different females are in the top 30.

What is the difference between Country and the other contemporary formats? Well, as I mentioned above, one thing is that these other formats are not averse to playing two or even three songs by a female superstar at the same time in the current category.

The list I do for McVay/Cook AC clients has two songs by Adele in current this week and just as easily could have two Kelly Clarkson songs and two by Katy Perry. Seven of the 13 currents this week are females.

I understand that over the nine months the gender trend might be compromised so I took a look at just this past week. Nothing different. Not another name shows up in the top 30.

It’s not like the format is lacking female voices. There is a long list of great singers that are on and off of the radio but there isn’t the kind of consistency in the way country radio works for male performers. It seems like their success is driven by an individual song.

Male performers apparently have a “slot” sewn up for them on the chart. When one of their songs peaks you have their follow-up serviced and moved right in.

Male acts like Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean have not been off the charts for more than two weeks at time this year while performers like Sara Evans and Martina McBride have chart achievement and then seem to wait for the girl slot to some open again.

I love all the acts in the last paragraph and I am glad for their triumphs. I have written here how excited I am about the music in the format today but I cannot understand how our contemporary format is so different than the others on the radio.

Even Urban/Hip Hop, often with lyrics and an attitude that can be characterized as misogynist, has five females in the top 30.

There does seem to be a very long list of new females coming onto the chart in the last month or so. So far the songs have not become top 20 or top 10 songs. Based on history these ladies are going to have a hard time reaching those milestones.

Jana Kramer has broken through, and may even reach the top spot, but WB has been working that song since February and KKGO played it last December. The song has played more than 1200 times on KILT and more than 1000 times on KFRG.

Fortunately Ms. Kramer has another source of income. But she is great for the format, as is any new female that can get through the testosterone of country radio today.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)

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