Irish women in music deserve more airplay


A damning report has shown a jawdropping disparity between how often Irish male and female artists are played on radio. Here’s how you can help support female artists

A new report by the Why Not Her collective has shown that there is a bias against female artists on Irish radio.

Because they are given a fraction of the airplay Irish male acts receive, these women get less opportunities to get booked for festivals and gigs, which is the main way music acts make an income.

The report looks at 20 years of the Irish Singles Charts, and the findings are bleak. Radio play makes and breaks careers, and for so many women, those careers never got a fair chance. You can read the report here. 

If you want to take action right now, make an effort to seek out more female-led Irish acts. Why Not Her’s Linda Coogan Byrne shared the Womxn of Ireland playlist, which celebrates the diverse range of female talent on the island of Ireland.

Some female acts have gone on to have huge success in spite of the airplay disparity. But it’s a huge mountain for any artist to climb.

Before Imelda May’s ‘11 Past the Hour…’ album topped the National Album Charts this month, April 2020, an Irish woman had not been seen as a lead artist in the top album spot since Lisa Hannigan in 2016. It is really concerning when you consider how little plays on Irish radio Imelda received. When Dermot Kennedy charted high (and post that period) he has reached over 490.42m radio impacts on Irish radio, Niall Horan reached 290.11m, Hozier reached close to 90m Imelda just reached #1 and is at 23.11m radio impacts.

Why does airplay matter?

Each time a song is played on the radio a royalty payment, or fee, is recorded for each play. The higher the radio station’s reach, the higher the payment can be. The main advantage though is that radio play increases artists’ visibility and allows more fans to discover them and download or stream their music.

Radio plays leads to streams/ downloads which leads to charts and they lead to gigs, touring and possibly being signed by a record table.