Martina McBride is mad about statements mede by a consultant about women in country music radio. Many media outlets are calling the statements sexist, but the man who made them insists he was just passing along data.
Keith Hill, a consultant for more than 300 country music radio stations, said in a recent interview that country radios should stop playing as many songs by female artists to help boost ratings.
Martina McBride took issue with his remark. She posted to Facebook:
"Wow.....just wow. Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I'm really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being "assessed" in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm...."
Of course, this question was addressed to her Facebook followers, who obviously like at least her in country music. They may not have been the best focus group to ask. They're already filtered by virtue of liking her page.
But Keith Hill appears to be basing his recommendation on research, not personal preference. According to him, the biggest reason to cut female singers out of rotation is that the stations' female listeners don't want to hear them.
"If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” Keith Hill said. “The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19%. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
When Martina McBride invited her fans and followers to chime in on these statements, the facts of the research went out the window. Instead she received comments like:
"Saying that it's primarily a male format with a smaller female component seems hopelessly outdated, something we might have expected forty years ago, not today."
But Hill said his recommendation was based on research and feedback from stations today, not forty years ago.
Some even attacked Hill himself, as though he were guilty of sexinsm rather than reporting data as he saw it from clients.
"Keep doing what you are doing, you have devoted listeners! He is a chauvinist!"
"I think we should all throw tomatoes (ourselves) at him! What an idiot!"
Martina McBride did get some feedback from people in actual positions to know what they were talking about. Counrty star Carlene Carter said:
"Good God Ladies! Are they still as silly as they were back in the 90's! I was told early on by WB that women just didn't buy women's records, and since they were the people buying not to count on sales in the same way as men could. What a complete crock! Martina you have certainly proved them wrong over and over about this."
Another useful perspective came from this fellow:
"I am a radio programmer. I have never subscribed to this belief. 10 years in, my ratings are better than fine. Carry on."