• Clodagh Meaney

Female musicians played 90 percent less than male counterparts on Irish radio

Three radio stations have zero female artists in their Top 20 most played songs.

By Clodagh Meaney



A new report has shown that female musicians are played 90 percent less than their male counterparts on radio across the country.


Researchers looked specifically at the radio play of Irish musicians, and compiled data of the top 20 songs played across 28 radio stations in Ireland between June 2019 and June 2020.


Published today by Good Seed PR, the report illustrates the disproportionate gender disparity in the Irish music industry, and shows that women make up only 8.9 per cent of Irish musicians in Top 20 radio play across the country.


The report found that the majority of radio stations have very poor female representation on air, with some stations featuring no women in their Top 20 most played songs.


Stations with only one female artist in their top 20 songs were: Spin South West, Spin 1038, Shannon Side FM, Midlands Radio, Live 95FM, Radio Kerry, East Coast FM, KFM, KCLR FM, Cork's 96FM, Clare FM, C103, RedFM, Beat and Today FM.



RTÉ Radio One was the only station to have a 50/50 split of male and female musicians in their top played songs for the last year.


WLR in Waterford, as well as Dublin's FM104 and LMFM, both owned by Wireless Media Group, all had zero women in their Top 20.


Carlow FM's Top 20 was made up of 30 percent women, with Midwest Radio having 20 percent.


iRadio, and Galway Bay FM's Top 20 songs were made up of 15 percent women.


The top 20 songs on Dundalk FM, Highland Radio, RTE 2FM and 98FM were made up of 10 percent women.


Within the last year, Soulé was the most played Irish female on radio. Her music received 8,099 plays which is almost 80 percent less than that of the most played Irish male Dermot Kennedy who was played 38,652 times.


The second most played Irish male and female on radio were Niall Horan who received 32,310 plays, and Aimeé, who was played only 5,867 times.


Speaking about the disparity, musician Áine Tyrell said: "I mean it shouldn't surprise me but it does, a man can literally achieve a million times more impacts in just a few weeks than a woman can in a whole year."


"Where does the race start for a man and where does the race start for a woman in their music careers? It looks like there is a different starting line."




Last week, Irish Women in Harmony, a group co-ordinated by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Ruth Anne, released a track in aid of SAFE Ireland.

The 39 female musicians, including Pillow Queens, Soulé, Wyvern Lingo and Erica Cody came together to collaborate on a cover of The Cranberries' hit song Dreams.

Speaking about the report, Ruth Anne said that something needs to change.


"As a songwriter I have co-written songs which have amassed over 3 billion streams and gone No.1 billboard platinum and multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated and some of those songs have been with and for some of Ireland’s biggest exports including Niall Horan and Westlife."


"It’s disappointing to see the lack of real radio playlist support for Irish female artists and it’s something that needs to change," she said.


"The standard of writing and production from Irish female artist music is on par with the male artists and we in no way want to replace the males or be against the males as there are incredible male artists in Ireland we simply feel there is more than enough room for us all," she explained.


"We need to inspire the young girls sitting in their bedroom to dream big and being influenced by females in Irish music but if we aren’t being seen or heard the next Sinead O’ Connor or Dolores may not be inspired to get into music at all due to the lack of representation in Ireland."



Sarah Corcoran of all female 4-piece Pillow Queens said she's had the conversation about gender disparity in Irish music too many times.


“I think we've always known there was a huge disparity between the sizes of the platforms given to men versus those given to women but to see it laid out like that is incredibly eye-opening even to me as a woman in the industry."


"Any time I've had this conversation with men or women in my life, they've come back to me with 'yeah but Soulé gets airplay, the Cranberries get airplay, you're overreacting etc. etc.' or 'there just aren't as many women making music'," she explained.


"The Dreams cover is evidence that the latter simply isn't true. And the research is evidence that yes, Soulé and the Cranberries might be getting airplay but they make up a tiny fraction of Irish artists being showcased!"


"I hope that things are about to turn," she said, adding: "There are so many women making incredible music in the Irish scene so hopefully that will begin to be recognised!”


Linda Coogan-Byrne, of Good Seed PR who compiled the report on gender disparity said: "There is no shortage of incredible female acts in Ireland, but they are not getting the airtime they deserve."


"We also have the same wonderful diversity that the UK has yet Irish radio stations are not showing support. There is also only 1 act in the entire list on the Top 20 who is from the Black community," she said.


"In a Post-Covid world, it's time to create a new normal as the old one wasn't working for everyone, it was only working for the privileged exclusively white male steering the industry standards."


"It is time we stopped pandering to that outdated model," she said adding: "It is time for inclusivity and equality for all, and we want to stop hearing that women are strident when all we seek is equal opportunities."

© 2020 by EMPWR