CMT Commits to 50/50 Airplay for Female Artists
CMT has made a landmark commitment to female country artists in 2020. The country music video and lifestyle channel has pledged to institute 50/50 airplay between male and female artists across all of its platforms, effective immediately.
CMT broke the news via Twitter on Tuesday morning (Jan. 21), writing:
"Effective immediately all music video hours on CMT and CMT Music channels will have complete parity between male and female artists. That means 50/50. #CMTEqualPlay."
“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,” CMT SVP of Music & Talent Leslie Fram says in a press release. “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.”
In addition to the video channel, CMT's platforms include CMT Radio, the CMT Next Women of Country showcase and tour, and an upcoming list of rising stars called CMT's Listen Up list, which CMT will announce on Jan. 24.
The news comes just a week after Fram appeared as part of a segment on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee that took on the topic of sexism in country music and the increasing inequality female artists have faced in recent years in terms of airplay. Brandi Carlile, Margo Price, Tanya Tucker and Mickey Guyton also appeared in the segment, which garnered widespread attention from the Washington Post, NPR, Rolling Stone and more.
The subject has been a source of ongoing debate in country music circles since the so-called "Tomatogate" scandal that rocked the genre in 2015, after radio consultant Keith Hill compared women in country music to the tomatoes on a salad. He stated that female artists should be a garnish for a radio diet that should consist mostly of male artists, and that playing too many females leads to declining ratings. Despite the active debate over the issue, the situation for female artists in country music has steadily gotten worse since then.
Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles brought a renewed focus to the issue with a fashion statement at the 2019 CMA Awards, wearing an outfit that sported the words, "Play our F---in' Records, Please & Thank You" on the front. The back bore a woman's face, the equality sign and the words "equal play."
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