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GENDER DISPARITY ON U.K. RADIO

A new report on gender disparity in U.K. radio shows a significant imbalance in the number of British female acts and songwriters who receive airplay vs. men. Solo males, for example, appear on 51% of records, while solo female songs represent just 19% of those on the chart.

The Gender Disparity Data Report, compiled by music industry consultant and publicist Linda Coogan Byrne and Nadia Khan of not-for-profit Women in CTRL, analyses figures from the Top 100 radio airplay chart in 2020. It also looks at the Top 20 most played British artists on 31 of the biggest radio stations in the U.K., for the year starting June 2019 to June 2020.

On the Top 100 radio airplay chart in 2020, key findings include:

  • Solo men appear on 51% of records.
  • Solo female songs represent just 19% of those in the chart.
  • Collaborations between men and women count for 30%.
  • Female songwriters count for 18% of those credited and male writers count for 80%.
  • Female producers count for just 3% of producers credited. 

Stats on the Top 20 most played British artists on 31 of the biggest radio stations in the U.K. for the year ending June 2020 are particularly dispiriting:

  • Apple FM’s top tracks were 70% male, 20% female and 10% collaborations. 
  • Of BBC Radio 1's top tracks, 85% were by male artists, 10% by females and 5% collaborations. BBC Radio 2's split was 55% male, 5% female and 40% collaborations.
  • Capital FM’s gender split was weighted 75% male, 5% female and 20% collaborations while Capital Xtra's was 90% male and 10% female.
  • Kiss stood at 75% male, 15% female and 105 collaborations while sister station Kiss Fresh was 90% male, 5% female and 5% collaborations.  

A number of female artists have spoken about the findings to The GuardianPolydor signing Becky Hill, whose "Wish You Well" collaboration with Sigala was one of the most popular tracks at U.K. radio in the report, says the findings prove that women have a harder time at breaking through. 

“Whether it is about what they look like or what they write about in their songs, or how they conduct their day-to-day lives, it would appear that women need to be more than just talented to be accepted and successful," Hill said.

She believes her own artist brand has been sidelined while the producers she works with get promoted. “I felt like my voice and songwriting was being used for success, but my name and face were very much treated as secondary to the producer’s fame. This impacted overall public knowledge of my artistry, and so still to this day people don’t recognise my name, yet they know my catalog.”

Songwriter and artist Kamille says the report is "devastating and something I feel every day working in music."

"This needs to change. We need more support for women. Our voices, creativity and talent need to be heard and seen just as loudly and visibly as our male counterparts.”

Radio 1 responded to the findings with a statement outlining its commitment to "doing more to support and celebrate a diverse range of music across our platforms, from festival slots right through to the playlist, with an average of 45% of playlisted songs featuring female artists”.

Kiss owner Bauer said that it's "committed to working with labels and the wider music industry to improve female representation—particularly within rock and indie, which are both genres that are historically male-dominated. We agree there is more to be done and we will continue to improve the variety of music we play in order to rightfully reflect the audiences that we serve.”

Global, which presides over Capital FM, refused to comment.

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