A new report carried out by the music publicist Linda Coogan Byrne of Good Seed PR has revealed a huge gender gap in the Irish artists receiving top 20 airplay.
The report, which surveyed 27 Irish radio stations between June 2019 and June 2020, shows that female artists totalled just 7.7% of the top 20 most played songs.
RTÉ Radio 1 was the only station to achieve gender balance over the last year. RTÉ 2FM and 98FM had 10% female artists in their top 20, and FM104 had none. Today FM, Spin 103.8FM and Spin SouthWest had 5%.
Coogan Byrne, who has worked in PR, label management and music consultancy in Ireland, Canada, New York and the UK for fifteen years, points to the playlisting system as being the major issue. ‘It’s predominantly male playlisters on teams and radio,’ she said, speaking to the Journal of Music, ‘I think it’s systemic. It’s choosing men over women for whatever reason. I don’t know why, but it has to change.’
I’m fifteen years working in the industry … it’s about time these figures were put out there. It’s not my opinion, it’s data. … I want to bring the facts to Irish radio and ask the question…. Why are you playing all these male acts and not playing [female artists]?
The report was researched and compiled by Coogan Byrne using the Radiomonitor service, which monitors the music played on radio and TV in 97 countries.
‘This isn’t an attack on DJs,’ says Coogan Byrne, ‘It’s an attack on a system that’s in place that needs to change. … I hope that DJs will say to their programme directors and head of music department… these findings are crazy – what is happening?’
As well as data on 27 stations, the report also includes a range of responses from Irish female artists. Commenting on the report, singer-songwriter Ailbhe Reddy said, ‘There are a lot of people on the ground who really care about pushing women to the forefront of Irish music, but without being playlisted how do we stand a chance?’
Sarah Corcoran of the band Pillow Queens commented: ‘I think we’ve always known there was a huge disparity between the sizes of the platforms given to men versus those given to women but to see it laid out like that is incredibly eye opening even to me as a woman in the industry.’
The Irish artists that were most played on Irish radio include Dermot Kennedy, Niall Horan, The Academic and Hozier. The Irish female artists who made it into the top 20 most played artists include Soule?, Aimee and Róisín Murphy, plus bands such as The Corrs and The Cranberries.
According to the most recent JNLR figures, 80% of the population tune in to a radio station every day. Among the 15 to 34 age group, 71% listen daily.
Download the full report below.