Women representation on radio

Published: November 20th 2020

A study across the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Denmark.

By WARM

Dua Lipa, female British artist.
Dua Lipa, female British artist.

Lately, several reports have been published addressing gender inequality in the music industry. In January, for instance, the USC (University of South Carolina) published its third annual report titled “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?”1, an article funded by Spotify and conducted by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative which examined the gender and race of content creators across 800 top songs from 2012 to 2019.

Moreover, the “Gender Disparity Radio Report2”was published last August, a study which analyzed the 20 most-played British acts across British radio stations in the period of June 2019-2020, and the top 100 radio airplay chart in 2020. Both papers concluded with the inexorable assertion of the existence of a gender disparity in the music business.

Under this premise, this report aims to study female artist representation on radio in order to see if there is something such as a gender gap and if so, to identify where it stands. Through this report, the position women occupy in relation to men in the music industry, particularly on radio (AM, FM, and online),  will be carefully analyzed to establish an objective portrait of how the music industry is built.

To do so, this report will focus on the share of female versus male performers in the top 100 songs for five specific countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Denmark. Each country has been carefully selected as their data is considered to be representative enough to help to depict the scene.

About the data.

Camila Cabello, female Cuba-American artist.
Camila Cabello, female Cuba-American artist.

This data in turn will be obtained from WARM. WARM has a powerful software that tracks radio plays of any song in real-time, using AudioFingerprint Technology and Music Recognition. Every song gets its own unique fingerprint which WARM matches with the music playing on radio stations around the world. The algorithm behind this is powered by MusicDNA.

The analyzed data will comprise the first six months of the present year 2020, from the 1st of January to the 30th of June, and will revolve around three specific variables: share of artists classified by gender, the gender of the artists occupying the highest positions in the ranking, and most popular male and female artists.

Note that WARM acknowledges “non-binary” as a legitimate gender and guarantees it is part of their outlook. However, for this particular report, the categories considered are "female", "male", and "mixed collaborations (male-female)" aiming to highlight the gap between women and men.

Highlights from the report.

Ava Max, female American artist.
Ava Max, female American artist.

- "Male singers are more represented on radio than female singers in all European countries analyzed in this report."

- "Female artists manage to be more represented in the top positions even though there are more male artists in the overall ranking in all countries, except in Denmark."

While for men to reach the top 100 songs positions is easier than for women, it is the lack of opportunities for more women to reach these same charts, the main issue this report shows.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable how, despite being much less represented in the top 100 songs on the radio across these five countries, women manage to secure the highest positions in the ranking.

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Download the report here.

Women representation on radio.

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1 Wang, A. (2020, January 29). Here's How Overwhelmingly Male the Music Industry (Still) Is. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/heres-how-overwhelmingly-male-the-music-industry-still-is-940255/

2 Snapes, L. (2020, August 21). Female British artists underrepresented on UK radio, survey finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/aug/21/female-british-artists-underrepresented-on-uk-radio-survey-finds

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