Have you listened to alt radio lately?
Go ahead, turn on your local station and listen for an hour. I'll wait...
What did you hear? Notice anything about the artists played?
If you guessed that the artists were almost entirely male, well you'd be right.
I perused the "Recently Played" sections of two alternative radio stations today, one on each coast of the US: Radio 104.5, Philadelphia's alternative radio station, and Alt 98.7, Los Angeles's alternative radio station. In the same 3 hour period, each station played roughly 50 songs, and out of those 50 songs just 6 on Radio 104.5 and 3 on Alt 98.7 were female artists or female led bands.
That can't be on purpose, right...?
Despite the multitude of talented female solo artists and female led bands in the indie and alternative rock genres, there are so little receiving any kind of regular rotation on alternative radio. It is by design. In her Refinery29 article The Surprising Truth About Being A Woman In A Band, Courtney Smith mentions that an alternative rock programmer once told her he doesn't program two female led songs next to each other because the audience doesn't want it.
This disparity reflected in the Billboard charts as well. Few women made the charts as solo artists or as part of a band during the week of March 10, 2018: 3 out of the 50 songs on the Hot Rock Songs, 0 of the 25 Top Rock Albums, and 3 of the top 25 Alternative Digital Song Sales. It's disheartening and discouraging to see a lack of female rockers making it in the industry. What is it about women rockers that people don't want to hear? There are so many incredible female voices in indie and alternative rock that deserve recognition and to be heard along side their male counterparts on alt rock stations.
Grammy rock nominations
Okay, so what about the 2018 Grammy's. Surely outstanding women were nominated this year?
According to Luke O'Neill in Grammys 2018: Women were almost entirely shut out of the rock categories. And there's no excuse., only two female-led acts were nominated. Yes, there were some fantastic albums and songs released by men during the nomination period, but there were also fantastic albums and songs released by women. Then again, this is just a piece of the broader #grammyssomale theme of the entire 2018 Grammy Awards, in which few female acts that were nominated even won awards (Alessia Cara was the only female to win an award on the broadcast).
What do we do now?
It's easy to say that we need to just open our minds to change the culture, but that's much easier said than done. We need to persist. Contact your alt radio stations and request songs by female artists. Female rockers, be present and show that women can rock, that we can be chart toppers. Labels, sign female rockers and give them equal support. Most of all though, let's get this conversation started and continue it.
Women of indie and alt rock
These women rock the indie and alt rock scenes. Give them a listen, request them on alt radio, and support them on tour.