The 2021 radio charts are out so I wanted to take a look at Europe and the USA’s Top 50 to see the evolution of the number of female and male acts compared to 2020. Note that WARM acknowledges “non-binary” as a legitimate gender and guarantees it is part of their outlook. However, for this particular article, the categories considered are "female", "male", and "mixed collaborations (male-female)" aiming to highlight the gap between women and men alone.
In Europe, the number of female-only songs decreased by 20% - going from 15 to 12 songs. The number of mixed songs (including both male & female artists or groups) decreased as well, by 38%. However, the number of male-only songs increased by 36% - going from 22 to 30 songs.
Now let’s take a look at the United States’ Top 50 Radio Chart for 2021: the number of male-only songs decreased by 4%, going from 31 to 30 songs. The number of mixed songs also decreased by 27%. However, the number of female-only songs increased by 27%, going from 11 to 14 songs.
Zooming into the United States’ radio Top 10 for 2021, we see that 4 songs are by female acts, and 6 songs are by male acts. Compared to 2020’s Top 10 these numbers are not that different. Indeed, in 2020 there were also 6 male-songs, only in this case the 4 songs left were split between 2 mixed songs and 2 female-songs.
If we take a step back from Europe’s Top 50 and the United States Top 50, and look at things from a global perspective, we realize that it is a female act - Dua Lipa - who has gathered the most radio airplay across the world. Indeed, 5 of her songs made it to the Top 50 most played songs on the radio in the world in 2021 - that is 3 more of Dua Lipa’s songs in the World Top 50 list compared to 2020. Overall, her 5 songs accumulated 5,399,000 radio plays. The Weeknd was #2 in the World Top 50 list, with 3 songs, and accumulated 5,170,000 radio plays.
It's clear that the music scene has been dominated by male acts for a long time. However, we can see that the dynamics of the industry are in constant change every year. Female acts are starting to show stronger potential, gaining more and more visibility each year. Even though during 2021 the female share has decreased in the Top 10 radio songs globally, it's interesting to see this evolution specifically in representative markets such as the US compared to a whole region like Europe. The scenario becomes more challenging for the music scene in regards to the distribution of acts, which also can be translated into an opening of new opportunities to disrupt the industry with a more equitable and inclusive perspective.