For example, A&O&B's quarterly research track of our clients' music testing includes national averages on almost 700 tunes.
When ranked by "total positive %" with all of the men who participated (screened for their heavy use of country radio), not one song by a female ranked in the top 100. There were three in the top 150.
Distaff artists do better with the female listeners in the sample. Eleven songs ranked in the top 100. The highest ranking song by a woman is #29 (Lady Antebellum/I Need You Now) and then #33 (Miranda Lambert/The House That Built Me).
Wise programmers target their music 60% female/40% male, based on the two genders' contribution to average quarter hour.
Billboard's Tom Roland must have been talking to Nashville music promotion folks for his article this week, "Taylor, Carrie, Rosanne, Julie: So Many Women, So Little Airtime."
“I just want more girls to have more success,” Music City songwriter Hillary Lindsey told Roland. “It’s just been so hard to break them in this town, and I don’t know why. Why is it that guys succeed a lot more than women? Why is it that Tim McGraw can still be selling tons of records and having hits, but Faith Hill can’t? Or Martina McBride? Why is it that women age in this business and they go away, but men can keep getting old and do it?”
The Billboard writer points out that "Lindsey’s point has merit, though to be fair, most male acts don’t have shelf lives that are all that long either. Plenty of other men have appeared and disappeared during the nearly 20-year span since McGraw’s first hit, “Indian Outlaw,” debuted on Hot Country Songs on Jan. 22, 1994. And McGraw still has another decade to knock out before he can approach the 30-year span between Reba McEntire’s first top 10 single, 1980’s “(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven,” and her most recent No. 1, 2010’s “Turn On the Radio.” favorite."
That must have hit a nerve for Terra Lindsey, JRfm/Vancouver Promotions Director, lover of country music, cheerleader for female singers and a big part of the station's weekly music meeting. Her passion on the subject is demonstrated not just by the length of her blog in response to it (click the link to read it), but also the depth of her argument, ranging from human evolution to female biology.
She also shares her Program Director Mark Patric's reasoning:
"Women see themselves in the songs. She may or may not see herself with the actual singer, but it certainly increases the taste for the song if the singer is yummy. If a woman is listening to a female singer, she wants to picture herself AS that woman. To do that, she’s got to relate to the lyrics (because it’s all about the story in Country music), as well as like the singer. To “like the singer” means more to a woman than it does to a man. For guys she just needs to be hot. Women need to see themselves in another woman to be able to look at her in a positive light. This means she needs to know something about her, something that reminds her of herself."
Another possibility: women are very complicated. Men are simple. Or, young girls' first radio format of preference as they turn ten or eleven is Top 40, which can be very successful targeting only women, so when they turn on to country, that is their first experience of listening to a radio format which doesn't target only them.
Millions of them grow to love country music, they see themselves as potential stars just like Carrie and Taylor, come in droves to Nashville with their self-involved perspective and run head long into the fact that Top 40 music is about fantasy and escape from reality while country music deals with adult realities, must be relevant to a wide demographic of not just their demographic peers but also to a "family" that spans four to six generations.
Perhaps it's this simple?
COUNTRY <--------------------> NOT COUNTRY-------------------->