Martina McBride Wants an ‘Even Playing Field’ for Women in Country — on Spotify and Beyond
Mere days after Martina McBride called out Spotify for making pages and pages of all-male suggestions for a playlist called "Country Music," the singer says that the streaming giant is taking notice -- but the jury's still out on whether or not any actual action will be taken.
In an interview with People, McBride said that within a day after she voiced her concerns on Instagram, a Spotify representative got in touch with her. The two met for coffee and discussed gender disparity in playlists, but McBride says that five days after that meeting, Spotify still hadn't made any kind of public statement about the issue.
For context, McBride didn't initially set out to take up the mantle of gender imbalance in Spotify playlists. Rather, the whole thing started when she decided to put together a playlist as a listener, after being inspired by Sara Evans' "I Learned That From You." She titled her list "Country Music," then watched as Spotify's algorithm populated a list of recommended songs -- all of which were recorded by male artists.
So, she refreshed the page. And again. And again. And again. Still, no female artists popped up on Spotify's "recommended songs." Incredulous, McBride began live-posting her experience to Instagram as she continued to hit the refresh button. Finally, on the 14th page -- the 136th recommendation, according to People -- she saw Carrie Underwood's "Church Bells."
"I mean. Is it lazy? Is it discriminatory? Is it tone deaf? Is it out of touch? [Spotify] what is it???" McBride wrote in her Instagram story. "Please help me understand."
It wasn't long afterward that she sat down over coffee with a Spotify rep, who told her that "our engineers are trying to fix it," McBride recounts to People. Still, she pointed out, the streaming service hadn't publicly addressed the gender disparity on songs recommended to their playlists.
"How come they haven't come out and said, 'We're working on this,' whether it's true or not? I find it shocking that they feel so indestructible that they don't even take the time to make a comment about this," McBride says.
McBride knows the problem of bias against women in country music goes far beyond just one streaming service, platform or institution. As much as she welcomes attempts to address the imbalance, blips of attention are no substitute for wide-scale systemic change.
"I don't want an hour a week of all women. I don't want one [awards] show that's dedicated to women. I want an even playing field," the singer adds.
7 Women We Want to Hear on Country Radio