Guest blog: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues: Country Music’s Gender Problem Explained

Claire Greweling, communication design major at the University of Cincinnati’s Ullman School of Design created an infographic of the results of SongData’s April 2019 study of representation on country format radio that was done in consultation with WOMAN Nashville. We were so excited by the creative design that we invited Claire to write a guest blog on the process. Thank you, Claire, for your beautiful poster honouring this first public study – we are thrilled to spotlight your work!

by Claire Greweling

When my professor prompted us to create an infographic for our final project in my Graphic Design Overview course, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.

A few months prior, I was watching the CMT awards with my little sister (a self-proclaimed-music-charts analyst as a result of her love for Taylor Swift). The show took an unexpected turn by honoring Jennifer Nettles as well as other female artists like Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris, and Reba McEntire who were speaking up about the inequalities between men and women on country radio.

As someone who grew up listening to Top 40 pop stations, female country artists were my main outlet to the country music world. Artists like Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Kacey Musgraves were some of my favorite country artists in general (regardless of their gender). Needless to say, I was shocked and confused about the facts announced on CMT. 

My sister proceeded to show me statistics posted by SongData and WOMAN Nashville in April 2019. The report, “Gender Representation on Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018” was not only in-depth and well researched, it gave an honest narrative of the problem to show how country radio has negatively affected female artists for decades. After reading the report, I wanted to spread awareness, and a class of 30 design students seemed like the perfect place to start.

Infographic by Claire Geweling presenting data analysis done by SongData

My design was inspired by old 1960s and ’70s LP covers and concert posters of country albums. I used duo-tone imagery and a retro slab-serif font style to acknowledge those roots. From there, I took my own concept and ran with it. The concept for my infographic centers around a looming radio tower which serves as the ‘base’ of my design. I then incorporated radio waves which would display the facts and statistics.

In the bottom right corner of the page are some of the most notable and courageous women in country music. I envisioned them looking up at the tower in frustration as they boldly state their lists of demands to the country music industry. I hope that with more attention placed on this issue, we can continue to combat country radio’s gender problem.

For more information about me or my design work, visit my website and follow me on Twitter @CoolGrewel.