Photo 11/11

Country music female artists

Brandy Clark, Raelynn, Miranda Lambert

New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone Country called it "Country Music's Women Problem." The New York Times used more incendiary language - "Country's war on women." At this point, it's a common refrain: there is a serious gender imbalance in country music.

This is one of the few narratives attached to the genre, which still does not receive the same amount of press attention as "indie" rock, hip-hop, and top 40 pop. Of course, unequal representation of women is not a problem that's unique to country. Rock, rap, and EDM are all male-dominated as well.

Has country's gender imbalance always existed? Are woman in country music worse off now than they were a decade ago?

At the end of each year, Billboard compiles several measures of the most successful artists in country. The year-end "Top Country Albums Artists" category, for example, ranks acts according to the cumulative chart performance of their albums in a single chart year. In contrast, "Top Country Albums" ranks the most successful albums of the year individually, without grouping them by artist.

Billboard Female Country VocalistsThese two measures capture slightly different aspects of a singer's success: the ability to release one big album vs. the ability to keep a series of releases on the charts simultaneously. (At least 25 Albums Artists and 50 Top Albums are ranked at the close of each year; Albums Artists captures a wider group of releases because each individual entry may be responsible for several albums.) The same difference applies to two other year-end Billboard measures of interest: the "Hot Singles" chart reflects the primacy of the lone hit, while the "Singles Artist" chart suggests an artist's ability to keep multiple tracks on the charts at the same time.

Billboard Female Country Vocalists

Starting in the mid-90s, more women appeared on both charts. At the end of the decade, the number of female "Albums Artists" continued to rise, though the number of individual charting albums by women started to fall off, suggesting that a number of women had built up durable back catalogs, but fewer new stars were entering the field. After ups and downs during the '00s, 2013 and 2014 have seen only a handful of charting albums made by women.

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