CMT has plans to make the future of country music more female.

Country Music Television (CMT) announced Tuesday that it will set in motion 50/50 video airplay for women in country music on both CMT and CMT Music channels, an increase from its previous 40/60 ratio.

“Time is really up in 2020! All the talk around what can be done to support females in country music needs to transform into action, once and for all,” Leslie Fram, SVP of Music & Talent, CMT tweeted. “At CMT, we are stepping up our own commitments, in addition to our work through the CMT Next Women of Country franchise and will be announcing a new initiative in the coming weeks that will spark this much-needed change in our industry.”

Reba McEntire; Carrie Underwood; Dolly Parton
Credit: Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images

The need for change is in the numbers. A 2019 study showed that women in country music only accounted for 11.3 percent of the songs played on terrestrial radio in 2018, resulting in female artists having a harder time booking summer tours. One explanation for lack of airtime is the unspoken rule that two female artists cannot be played back-to-back, for fear of losing listeners.

Kacey Musgraves — who has combatted the lack of representation by including all-female opening acts last year on her Oh, What a World Tour — clapped back to female-play stigma on Twitter: “And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back. Makes total sense. Smells like white male bull–t and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me.”

Trailblazing female artists have spoken out on the issue with the airtime they’ve had so far. The 2019 CMA Awards closed out last year with all-female hosts — Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton. Jennifer Nettles even wore a Christian Siriano ensemble calling for equal air time with the phrase, “Play our f—ing records, please and thank you.”

It seems CMT has listened. Actions in place to provide gender-equal airtime include a distribution partnership with over 230 radio stations around the United States. Country music is the third most popular music genre on the radio in the country, according to 2019 Nielson Company statistic, and the most popular genre in conservative swing states, according to a 2016 Digital Music News statistic shared on TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

CMT has further plans to increase gender parity, which it will announce in the coming weeks. So far, other platforms for female artists this year include the CMT Next Women of Country Franchise, the CMT Next Women of Country Tour, and CMT Next Women of the County event. Fans can continue to follow the initiatives via the #CMTEqualPlay tag on Twitter.

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