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Top commercial stations play Irish female artists in charts at lower rate than most national radio

There were no women and no people of colour in FM104′s top 20 most-played songs.

Image: Shutterstock/The_Molostock

COMMERCIAL IRISH RADIO stations continue to broadcast Irish male artists in their top charts at a much higher rate than Irish women, a report has identified.

An analysis of songs by Irish artists played by Irish radio has found that most – but not all – radio stations play songs by men more often than songs by women and that artists of colour are underrepresented in the top 20 most-played songs.

Between June 2020 and June 2021, most national radio stations – RTÉ’s Lyric FM, 2FM, Radio One, Pulse and 2XM – saw Irish male artists represent between 25% and 60% of performers behind the top 20 songs.

However, RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta only saw three female acts from Ireland in its top 20 most-played songs, with 70% male acts and 15% collaborations.

On commercial stations, male artists were played 50% to 100% of the time in the top 20 songs.

Those stations include Today FM, Beat FM, iRadio, Spin, and FM 104.

On FM104, there were no Irish women or people of colour who featured in the top 20 charts, nor has there been in the last five years, according to the analysis.

Only 10% of the top acts on iRadio and 15% on Today FM were women from Ireland.

In Cork, Red FM, 96FM and C103 also predominantly played men in their top 20 songs at 90% each.

GDR National Graph shows airplay of Irish artists Source: Why Not Her Collective

GDR Commercial Graph shows airplay of Irish artists Source: Why Not Her Collective

The analysis shows that stations are starting to play songs from artists of colour more often, but still at a lower frequency than songs from white artists.

In the 2019/2020 report, Soulé was the only artist who featured on the top 20 heavy rotation airplay charts for Irish radio.

Last year, there was an increase between 5% and 30% across larger stations in playing artists of colour.

RTÉ Radio One’s top 20 songs featured 12 Irish female acts (Tolu Makay, Mary Coughlan, Irish Women in Harmony, CMAT, Niamh Regan (x2), Ailbhe Reddy, Imelda May, Lorraine Nash, Soda Blonde and Denise Chaila) and four artists of colour (Denise Chaila, Irish Women In Harmony and Tolü Makay [x2]).

Linda Coogan Byrne, the founder of the Why Not Her? collective which collated the analysis, said that “as with the last report, we still see the same male names topping the list”.

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“The Irish music landscape is not a homogenised male scene but it is ran by the patriarchy in suits who refuse to get with the times,” Coogan Byrne said.

“There is a diverse multicultural vibrancy that is at an all-time high, this needs to be reflected in the radio stations in Ireland.”

She said that airplay royalties are one of the key ways for an artist to make revenue, and that particularly in the context of the impact of Covid-19 on the music industry, women and people of colour should be given fair opportunities for airtime.

Last year, the report found that Irish female artists represented only 7.3% of all the top 20 artists.

The Cranberries made up up six entries on the 41 female featured artists and four stations – FM 104, LM FM, WLR FM and South East Radio – had no female artists in their top 20 during the period.

In this year’s report, singer-songwriter RuthAnne said that it is “encouraging to see some Irish radio stations making the change and to see more female artists and female POC artists on the lists this year and we are so grateful to those stations and we hope it long continues”.

“However there is clearly still a long way to go for a lot of radio stations who are still showing so much resistance to support and champion our own Irish-made female and POC artists,” she said.

Clarification: This article has been amended to make clear that the research looked at airplay of Irish artists only. 

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