Jennifer Nettles keen to spark #EqualPlay movement to highlight gender disparity in country music

Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles is hoping she can be the person to spark an #EqualPlay movement to highlight the lack of support for female country music stars.

The Sugarland singer first raised awareness of the issue when she turned up to the 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards in November wearing a white Christian Siriano pantsuit with a cape inscribed by artist Alice Mizrachi with the words "Play our f**king records / Please & Thank You".

Jennifer carefully prepared her fashion statement to ensure the outfit successfully called attention to the lack of radio play for music made by female artists, and was thrilled with the attention the ensemble attracted.

But she's now hoping that the statistics showing the disparity in radio play between men and women is enough to prove there's a major issue in her business.

"People kind of knew there was a disparity in country music. But I think when you look at the actual statistical information behind it, when you really understand those numbers, it’s staggering. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative did a study and found that of the top 500 charted country songs from 2014 to 2018, only 16 per cent were by female artists," she wrote in an op-ed for America's Glamour magazine.

"That is tragic. Those numbers reveal a truth that artists share and lament over but haven’t had the actual research to back up until now. I want to continue the conversation, on both a corporate level and a programming level, because it needs to change. It is beautiful how one spark can set aflame - hopefully - a movement. I’m calling it #EqualPlay to underscore equal pay, because it’s the same gender pay gap that’s happening across so many industries and in our culture at large."

In addition, in the 16 per cent of songs played by female artists, the average age was 29 - compared to an average age of 42 for men.

"That says a lot about what we value socially - the pressures that are put on women in terms of ageism and beauty," she said. "It also tells me that women aren’t offered the same support to be able to continue their careers. If you’re working in the music business, your life is very much dependent on travel. Touring is really the only way to make a living anymore."

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