On Thursday, both replied to a since-deleted tweet from Michigan-based station 98 KCQ Country, which read, "We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town against another female. I applaud their courage." The response from the station was to a fan who asked if Los Angeles' Go Country 105 FM could be fined for playing songs by female artists back to back.
After seeing the tweet, Musgraves, 31, and Ballerini, 26, used their platforms to slam country music stations for the sexist rule.
"Smells like white male bullsh*t and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me," Musgraves tweeted. "And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back. Makes total sense."
Ballerini shared a similar message, taking the discussion to Instagram. "I say this having been one of the few women who have been really embraced by country radio and having watched some of the bigger networks (and some of my friends that are pd's and high up) make real changes in their programming to make it look more balanced. I am grateful," she began. "BUT. there is still inequality in airplay for women. And tweets like this prove it. And it's my job to say it out loud and post about it, because of the girls moving to Nashville (or wherever) that are ready to outrun and outwork and outplay everyone. They deserve to know that they have the same shot as the guys moving here to do the same."
"Country music - We have to fix this," she continued. "For us and for them. How do we do it? Let’s talk. (Also- don't lash out at this station, they are playing by rules set for them from their higher ups ?)."
Ballerini also apologized on behalf of the country stations for providing "unfair and incredibly disappointing" rules for women.
"To all the ladies that bust their a**es to have half the opportunities that men do, I'm really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules," she shared in a series of tweets. "ALEXA PLAY LBT LADY A CARRIE MIRANDA KACEY CARLY GABBY MAREN INGRID RUNAWAY JUNE M&T LAUREN. ALL IN A ROW."
To all the ladies that bust their asses to have half the opportunities that men do, I’m really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules. It’s unfair and it’s incredibly disappointing https://t.co/95CtnVLlHh
The tweets from Musgraves and Ballerini received plenty of love from their fans and celebrity friends on social media, including Carly Pearce, who replied back with plenty of emoji hearts. The official account for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee also weighed in, sharing a video from their recent segment on sexism in country music.
"Kacey gets it! This isn't elementary school," the tweet read. "Radio stations don't need to play artists boy-girl-boy-girl and they CERTAINLY don’t need to play artists boy-boy-boy-boy-girl-boy-boy."
Kacey gets it! This isn’t elementary school. Radio stations don’t need to play artists boy-girl-boy-girl and they CERTAINLY don’t need to play artists boy-boy-boy-boy-girl-boy-boy. We had a great segment on this last night: https://t.co/o8tJqoDa3e
Others responded with photos of Jennifer Nettles at the 2019 CMA Awards in November. The Sugarland singer made a bold statement about equality in the music industry by rocking a white Christian Siriano pantsuit.
The chic piece was emblazoned with the female Venus symbol and an attached fuchsia pink train that read, "Play Our F*@#iN Records Please & Thank You." Additionally, the back of her suit jacket featured the words "Equal Play," along with a hand-drawn portrait of a woman with the Venus symbol on the train.
"When I heard that the CMAs were going to be celebrating women this year, I thought, what a fantastic opportunity and invitation to take the conversation beyond the applause," Nettles explained, while speaking with ET on the red carpet. "To take it beyond this night of celebration and to send a message to the rest of the industry that says women are supremely underrepresented and people want to hear our music and our records played on country radio and on country playlists just as equally."
She added, "So I collaborated with Christian Siriano, who's a fantastic designer and ally for equality across the board, and a wonderful street artist out of New York City named Alice Mizrachi. She did all the work on this."