Irish music charts 'largely ignore' women and people of colour - report

Irish music charts 'largely ignore' women and people of colour - report

Imelda May, who just reached number 1 in the Official Irish Album Charts, the first Irish female since 2016 to do so, described the report as “alarming”.

Irish charts and radio “largely ignore” women and people of colour, according to the latest gender disparity report of the music industry.

The report, compiled by the Why not her? Collective, examined how female artists have fared in the Irish single charts over a 20-year period, with some years not featuring any women artists at all.

The report was compiled through an examination of weekly charts from the Official Charts Company, from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2019.

Over the 20-year period, there were 138 female chart entries achieved by 89 acts, compared with 966 male chart entries achieved by 418 acts.

For each female act that reaches the chart, 4.6 males artists reach the chart, while for each week spent on the chart by a female act, a male act spends 11.5 weeks, the report found.

Linda Coogan Byrne, founder of Why Not Her? collective, said: “If we cannot see it we cannot be it. Regular monitoring needs to be done and paid for by the government."
Linda Coogan Byrne, founder of Why Not Her? collective, said: “If we cannot see it we cannot be it. Regular monitoring needs to be done and paid for by the government."

The female artists who spent the longest in the charts were Samantha Mumba (79 weeks), The Corrs (45 weeks), Bellefire (40 weeks), Dance to Tipperary (38 weeks), and Six (37 weeks).

Some 94.2% of charting singles were by white artists, and 3.1% were by artists who are Black, indigenous, or people of colour.

Aside from the racial and gender disparity, the report also highlights the preference for international artists over homegrown talent.

Between 2015 and 2018, nine Irish chart entries hit the Top 10, of which only one was by a female artist.

Number one was an Irish-free zone from early 2015 up until late 2020 when Dermot Kennedy claimed the spot after appearing on the Late Late Toy Show.

The collective has previously highlighted how radio playlists are dominated by men, and this latest report highlights the impact this can have on female artists.

“This equates to years of exclusion, lost income, and shattered careers. Female musicians’ exclusion from radio playlists and the singles charts directly impacts on their ability to make a living as artists,” the collective said.

Imelda May, who just reached number 1 in the Official Irish Album Charts, the first Irish female since 2016 to do so, described the report as “alarming”.

“It puts outstanding artists at an immediate disadvantage merely for being female. How can a female artist have her music heard if she’s not played? How can a female artist reach chart success if people aren’t even aware her music exists?” she asked.

“I simply want to hear talented artists with the ability to connect with me and move me. I’m eager to hear all voices that speak to me regardless of gender, age, race, or sexuality."

The collective has called for gender quotas and legislative changes to be applied and introduced across radio to promote Irish talent across all genres, genders, race, and orientation.

Linda Coogan Byrne, founder of the collective, said: “If we cannot see it we cannot be it. Regular monitoring needs to be done and paid for by the government."

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