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Women & Tattoos

How many tattoos do you have and what do they represent?

I have 17 tattoos; my first tattoo was a feather on my hand. I had to walk into about three different tattoo parlours in Dublin before I got an artist who agreed to give me my first tattoo, explicitly explaining that it’s not something I can just rub out off my hand. Apparently, one of the bravest places to get a tattoo is on your hand as it can be seen by everyone but I wanted it to be seen by everyone. “Women don’t usually get tattoos there” was what the tattoo artist told me. Wonder if he’d have said the same thing to a man?

I went looking again. After showing a tattoo artist in Dublin Ink my own artwork on my iPad, he agreed to get one of his visiting tattoo artists to do it. I was a fellow creative so all was grand yeah. I ended up drawing the design and he added the ink. It was done in about 10 minutes. And from that point on I was addicted to ink. To my mothers great discontent.

The feather on my hand symbolises the Emily Dickinson Poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers. I had written a Eulogy for my Grandfather when he died and I used part of that poem near the end of the eulogy. The next tattoo I got was 7 crows on my left arm which was something I had seen on a wall in St Lukes Radiation Oncology when I used to bring my Grandmother before she eventually died of cancer.

In short, my tattoos meant something to me as they do to many other women. In 2012 around the time I began getting tattoos, it was the first year in which more women than men were tattooed in the U.S (twenty-three per cent of women, compared with nineteen per cent of men). It wasn’t all a stylish trend, it was a movement of women being empowered.

The tattoos that followed after my initial two, included a unified design of black lives matter and women’s rights/equality logo, a massive crow symbolising magic and the arcana of being a wicca, the eye of Horus, which is a symbol and protective amulet originating from the ancient Egyptian and associated with the goddess Wadjet, daughter of Ra, a European Goddess of War and many more. I won’t stop at 17, I am only getting started and they empower me along the way.

I never actually knew how or why they empowered me though – I just felt it, so I decided to do some research into why women feel empowered by tattoos and here is what I found out.

A little bit of history on women and tattoos:

Tattoos were an early way that women took control of their bodies. For thousands of years, way back 5000 years, tattoos have been indicative of the passage from girlhood to womanhood, of female power and female beauty. Polynesian and Egyptian cultures embraced tattoos on women for centuries. In ancient Greece and Rome women with tattoos even added value to the cost of marriage.

When tattoos first emerged in ‘popular ‘ western culture in the 1800s, they were considered a sign of being a criminal or deviant. Today, they are increasingly commonplace. According to one estimate, 38 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

Tattoos eventually become popular in the Western world in the 19th century. Specifically, you’d find women with tattoos being paraded around in circuses and sideshows. It may not seem like the places you’d think to look for stories of female empowerment as such, but historically speaking the performers who appeared as such acts played a surprising and important role in women’s history–thanks to their tattoos.

Artoria Gibbons
Artoria Gibbons was born on a farm in Wisconsin in 1893 and she moved away from home at the age of 14 to join the circus. Once at the carnival, she met a man named Red Gibbons who was a tattoo artist. Red promised Artoria that he’d let her travel the world with the circus if he could tattoo her because they didn’t have a tattooed lady in their act. Gibbons went on to perform in sideshows for over 35 years, touring with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus as well as Hagenbeck-Wallace. Gibbons is regarded as the highest-paid tattooed lady, earning an impressive male following throughout her years in the circus. Gibbons continued to perform until the time of her death, showing off her collection of ink into her eighties. 

The height of sideshow and circus popularity in the mid–19th century came at a time when women had few opportunities for economic independence, and providing for families was largely a man’s job. Not so for the female sideshow performers, many of whom capitalized on the fascination with body art by voluntarily tattooing themselves, enabling them to make their own money. (Though some were forcibly tattooed.)

TIME Magazine
This woman seen being inked by legendary Bowery tattooist Charlie Wagner, ca. 1920s

Although tattoos were also highly popular amongst the upper class during the Victorian era, they suffered a time of being out of favour after the Great Depression, due to the stigma that they were related to the criminal element, and were even outlawed in many states in the USA well into the 20th century. Those who didn’t care about stigmas were the wealthy socialites. They got tattoos as a form of rebellion in the era and as a sign of wealth.

At the time, social moral and ethical codes of conduct required women to keep their whole bodies covered, you know so as to prevent intimidating the red-blooded men. The wealthy elite, however made their own rules and being highly influenced by tales of tattooed British royals, they started summoning ‘ink artists’ to the private comforts of their homes, to give them designs they could hide.

Winston Churchill’s mother Lady Randolph Churchill is said to have had a snake tattoo on her wrist (which was easily covered by her sleeve); by the turn of the 20th century, roughly three-fourths of fashionable New York City ladies had gotten similarly trendy tattoos, including butterflies, flowers and dragons, according to the New York World.

Deafy Grassman tattooing his wife, Stella, ca. 1930s

In beginning in the 1970s, tattoos amongst women once again celebrated a boom in popularity due to the feminist movement. This time, the popularity of tattoos was in response to the fight for reproductive rights. Women wanted their bodies to be their own, and tattoos seemed to once again lend them a secret source of power, although most women no longer chose to cover their tattoos with their clothing. They now choose to show them off. Tattoos have since come to express a type of rebellious beauty and have even been linked to a stronger sense of self-esteem.

In a study done in Psychology Today The primary motivation for people who get tattooed mostly has to do with its personal meaning such as to mark a significant experience or struggle. Participants reported reasons such as “to keep my mother’s memory,” “a way of honoring my first child,” and “presented what I was going through at a certain time of my life.” Some participants (12%) also felt that their tattoos were an extension or expression of who they were. For the participants who opted not to get a tattoo, the main reasons revolved around social and cultural factors, primarily religion (11%). One participant reflected, “I am a religious person so my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I’d like to keep clean.” Another expressed, “I am a Christian, it is conflicting as in the Christian religion to treat and respect one’s body as a temple.”

– Psychology Today
A servicewoman has a tattoo done on her arm in Aldershot, England, in 1951.

So there you have it. People get tattoos for many reasons: for attention, self-expression, artistic freedom, rebellion, a visual display of a personal narrative, reminders of spiritual/cultural traditions, sexual motivation, addiction, identification with a group or a defining moment within the feminist movement of owning your body and using it as a powerful statement to the world.

Will you get that tattoo you were thinking of getting?



>>> Diversity on the rise in the music scene as we go from just 1 artist of colour to 11 featured in Airplay charts across Irish Radio in the last 6 months. 

>>> National & Dublin Radio Stations lead the changes in gender parity as Regional Radio Stations lag behind…Please find a viewable link to the report

STATEMENTS: reactions attached from Game-changing Women in Music, Activism and Gender studies in Ireland on the report and its finds for use in all press circulation or for quotes in articles CAN BE FOUND HERE:

Top 100 artist on Irish radio.jpg

Please use the hashtag

The latest report findings outline the Gender Disparity that is still present on the Top 20 most played songs by Irish artists on each individual radio station in Ireland over the period of June 24th 2020 to Dec 24th 2020. It also shows the Top 5 most played songs on each station and the Artists and Songs in that Top 5 within the six month period of the report. 
The same homogenised male list that we viewed in the last report: Picture This, Gavin James, Dermot Kennedy, Wild Youth, Niall Horan and a new addition to the male echelons of the Irish scene Robert Grace dominate the Top 5 Chart positions on Radio. With only Denise Chaila & Wyvern Lingo appearing once in the Top 5 most played tracks across Irish Radio on Rte2fm. An all-female supergroup of 38 womxn: Irish Women In Harmony appear multiple times but still remain outnumbered by mostly solo-male acts.  

The findings are a staggering and shocking display of an industry model that still needs drastic changes, especially in Regional Radio. Variety and Diversity exists. 
Let us all work to embrace that. 

We would like to applaud those in National Radio and some individual stations who have made considerable strides towards a game-changing moment in Irish music history, some stations went from 0% to 20% and more. Thank you for being part of the solution: RTE 2FM, SPIN 103.8, SPIN SOUTHWEST, BEAT FM & 98FM. And for the first time in 5 years, Fm104 have increased by 10% on the inclusion of womxn on their Top 20 Airplay charts spanning the last 6 months, a small but certainly significant change towards parity.

This is not an opinion-based report. It is based on data compiled by Radio monitor. This Report is based on ‘Irish only artists’ and those whose songs are registered on Radiomonitor. Radiomonitor is the industry standard music airplay monitoring service used by all Record labels, Management companies and PR companies to evaluate the airtime allocated to artists/bands who have commercial releases in the Irish market and whose music is issued to Irish radio seeking radio airplay. You can find out more about Radiomonitor at

We at Why Not Her? ask what can be done to implement changes across Irish Radio that creates an equal opportunity playing ground for both male and female-identifying Irish acts? 
YOU can be part of the solution. Never be afraid to ask the question…WHY NOT HER?




Order a Commissioned Piece of Art

Linda has created many bespoke pieces of art over the years for a prestigious array of people and collectors all over the globe.

From Magazines to Presidents of Charitable commissions. If you would like to enquire about getting a custom design, portrait or painting done by Linda feel free to contact her here. Please include a full detailed description of what you are looking for.

Why Not Her? Podcast

I am so delighted to bring you The Why Not Her? Podcast which is now available across multiple digital platforms.

Why Not Her? Podcast is all about amplifying the voices of womxn across the entertainment, arts, creative, political and activism world.

The Podcast series is hosted by myself and my jesus I had so much fun chatting to the womxn featured in the Podcast!

After the groundbreaking Data Reports, that highlight Gender & Racial Disparity within the music industry were viewed by over 60 million people worldwide and featured in the likes of The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Tatler and many more publications in the UK, Ireland and globally – I felt it would be great to highlight more incredible womxn across a multitude of industries on a Podcast.

Sit back and enjoy the banter. You might learn something along the way!

I would also like to thank all the generous donations to Why Not Her as well as the generous time of the guests on the show. We are a volunteer organisation, we value everyone’s time and energy.

We Rise together.

‘Radioactive’ – A Four Month Review of Irish Radio Playlisting

We can finally reveal the update on Nationwide radio support within Irish Radio since the publishing of the Gender Disparity Radio Data Report.

This report update covers the last 4 months – from June 24th 2020 to Oct 24th 2020.

In late June, while Ireland was gearing up to return to some semblance of normality, many people were hoping that the pandemic would remain the major news story of the year. This wasn’t to be the case, as we have seen with the recent upsurge in human rights, domestic abuse, and racism concerns. Issues of inequality have come once again to the forefront of our collective conscience.

The Gender Disparity Data Radio Report released on June 24th, gained the attention of many major publications and ultimately reached over 20 million people, trended 5 times across social media and moved over to the UK where Womxn In CTRL and Linda Coogan Byrne carried out a UK Radio report that has been viewed and shared to over 40 million audience reach, starting a National movement towards Gender Parity on the airwaves in the UK & Ireland in the Summer of 2020.

If the appetite for such a study could have been doubted before, it certainly cannot now. 

The analysis of airplay in the Irish report showed a dramatic disparity between the broadcast of male and female-identifying Irish artists in the Top 20 most played songs by Irish artists in Ireland from June 2019 to June 2020.

Four stations, FM 104, LMFM, WLR FM and South East Radio, had no female artists whatsoever in their Top 20 in an entire year. Of the remaining stations that did feature a female artist, most had just one woman in the Top 20. Womxn accounted for only 8% of the top 20 most played Irish artists across 27 music-oriented radio stations in the past year. The most played female act was also the only black artist featured in the entire report: Soulé. Yet her white male counterpart Dermot Kennedy received 80% more airtime that she did.    

Those with the power in radio stations have been asked a simple question: what can be done to implement change across Irish Radio? Change that creates a level playing field for both male and female acts.

In the months since the report was published, we have seen a considerable groundbreaking rise in Irish radio playing Irish Womxn on air. The landscape of Irish music has considerably shifted. But how much?

Let’s take a look….

Read below for the full update and percentages of airtime across Irish radio.

We have seen some significant historic moves from Irish radio in their support of domestic female acts and we applaud this!

Denise Chaila

Across National radio we see:

RTe Radio 1 are still the leaders on Irish radio at 50/50 split of Gender Parity! Well done!

Let’s move on to the others….

Irish Womxn being played on RTE 2FM is up by 35% to 45% ! And the increase of plays by the National broadcaster has truly seen a huge change for womxn in music across the country. The 6 womxn featured on heavy rotation include: Denise Chaila, Fia Moon (x 2 songs) , Wyvern Lingo (x 2 songs), Irish Women In Harmony, Soule, Aimee & Laoise

Irish Womxn being played on Today FM is up by just 5% to 10% with Irish Women In harmony and Soule being the only 2 womxn played on the stations Top 20. They never got back to us when questioned about their lack of support and our request for them to do better.

On the Dublin Stations we see:

Irish Womxn being played on SPIN 1038 was originally only 5% and is now up by 35% to 40%!!! Irish Women In Harmony, Kehli, Jessica Hammond, Tara Walsh, FiCat, Gemma Bradley, Ruthanne & Aimee being the female additions to their Top 20 heavily playlisted.

Irish Womxn being played on 98FM is up by 10% to 20% – they have played 4 womxn over the last 4 months on their heavy rotation playlist – Irish Women In Harmony, Aimee, Soule and Tara Walsh.

FM104, for the first time in a 5 year period, have 2 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on heavy rotation across the playlist which brings their typical 0% of Irish females on their top 20 highest played acts on their playlist to 10%, with the remaining 90% being still predominantly homogenised male acts. The two female acts being Irish Women In Harmony and Sophie Doyle Ryder.

Irish Women In Harmony

Regionally we see:

Irish Womxn being played on SPIN South West are up by 30% from 5% to 35% – playing Irish Women In Harmony, Jessica Hammon ft Marty Guilfoyle, FiCat, Kehli, Gemma Bradley, Ruthanne & Aimee.

Irish Womxn being played on Beat 102 103 was originally only 5% and is up by 25% to 30%!!! playing Irish Women in Harmony, Sophie Doyle Ryder, Aimee, Jessica Hammond ft Marty Guilfoyle, Stephanie Rainey ft John Gibbons & Denise Chaila, Sorcha Richardson & co.

Irish Womxn being played on Corks RedFM 104-106 is up 10% to 15% – they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony, CMAT and Stephanie Rainey Ft John Gibbons.

Irish Womxn being played on Highland Radio is up 5% to 15% – they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; OLivia Douglas, Una Healy & The Cranberries.

Irish Womxn being played on LMFM is up 15% to 15% (they were at 0%) they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony, Una Healy and Sophie Doyle Ryder.

Sophie Doyle Ryder

Irish Womxn being played on Radio Kerry is up 5% to 10% they have 2 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony and Roisin O.

Irish Womxn being played on C103 Cork is a non change at 5% – playing Irish Women In Harmony and no other female acts on their Top 20. They don’t seem to think here is an issue of gender disparity do opted not to change and be part of the solution.

Irish Womxn being played on Galway Bay FM remains at 15% with no change- playing Irish Women In Harmony, Cathy Davey & Clannad ft Bono.

Irish Womxn being played on Cork’s 96FM is up 15% to 20% playing Irish Women in Harmony, The Cranberries (x 2 songs) and Moloko

Irish Womxn being played on Limerick’s live 95fm is up 15% to 20% playing The Cranberries (x 2 songs), Sharon Shannon Ft Mundy and Sophie Doyle Ryder.

Irish Womxn being played on WLR FM are up 25% to 25% (they were at 0%) they have 4 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist – Irish Women in Harmony, Carrie Baxter (x 2 songs), Luz and Rachel English.

Irish Womxn being played on Shannonside FM & Northern Sound is still at 5% – Irish Women In Harmony being the only womxn on the Top 20.

iRadio are up 5 % to 20% – playing only 4 female acts on heavy rotation. – Irish Women In Harmony, Kehli, Jessica Hammon ft Marty Guilfoyle & Fia Moon.

Irish Womxn being played on Midwest radio drops 5% from 20% to 15% – The three womxn being Carmel McLoughlin, Lorraine McDonald and Brid Shaughnessy on their heavy rotation playlist.

Irish Womxn being played on Clare FM rises by 5% to 10% – playing Heathers and The Cranberries old catalogue releases.

Irish Womxn being played on Tipp FM remains at 5% – Sinead O Connor being the only womxn on the Top 20.

Irish Womxn being played on South East Radio rises 5% from 0% – Mary Black Ft Rte National Orchestra is the only woman on their Top 20.

Irish Womxn being played on EAST COAST FM remains at 5% – Sinead O Connor being the only womxn on the Top 20.

Irish Womxn being played on Midlands 103 rises 5% up to 10% – Irish Women in Harmony and Trudi Lalor ft Mick Foster being the only two womxn on the Top 20.

Irish Womxn being played on Kfm Radio Kildare is up 5% to 10% – playing Irish Women In Harmony and Sinead O Connor.

Irish Womxn being played on KCLR96FM is up 5% to 10% playing Irish Women In Harmony and Ruthanne.

Editors notes: For all future reporting: The term Womxn, used by some feminists, especially in the intersectional feminist movement, is one of several alternative spellings of the English word woman. It is used to avoid the spelling woman, and to foreground transgender, nonbinary, and women of colour.

Gender Disparity Data Radio Reports For The Uk & Ireland Reach Over 60 Million!

It has been quite an interesting few months since I published the Gender Disparity Data Report on Irish Radio on June 24th.

We have now well over 60 million audience reach achieved across the reports combined. The music scene responded, the radio dj’s, programmers and ceo’s have begun having the conversations internally and we have seen a considerable shift in women on playlists across Radio. Change is HAPPENING!

You can view the Irish report here.

You can view the UK report here.

Everything that’s worth fighting for in life requires lots of hard work, and there is still more to come. More countries, more territories, more deeper insights at the data and more reports. If you’d like to come involved join the revolution in Ireland here and in the UK here.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed and supported in their own way, from journalists, do’s, musicians, band members, singers, managers and more.

You are all a part of the solution towards positive change, gender diversity and racial diversity and equality within the music industry.

We will have many more obstacles to overcome but for now let’s recap below on some amazing exposure on the reports.

GUARDIAN + PRINT EDITION (ran the exclusive) Special thanks to Becky Hill for being awesome.


Looks like the UK isn’t too far off being as bad as the Irish report folks…



“An analysis of the Top 20 Most Played British Acts across British Radio Stations in the Period of June 2019-2020 and the Top 100 Radio Airplay chart in 2020”


·      81% of songs in the Top 100 Radio Airplay chart feature men

·   Female songwriters are credited on only 19% of songs in the Top 100

·      Only 3% of music producers in the Top 100 are womenPlease find below links to the official

Link to View the Report via Slide presentation (we recommend this):

Link to sharable links/downloadable images of report, social assets and PR here also:
Instagram and Twitter asset images

This ‘Gender Disparity Data Report’ looks at the gender disparity in UK Radio for British Domestic acts over 2 sections. The first section is an analysis of 31 individual radio stations, looking at the gender disparity present in the Top 20 most played songs by British artists, in Britain, over the period of June 1st 2019 to June 1st 2020. In the 31 stations, we have included the Top 10 and most listened to national, regional & local radio stations including the major legacy radio stations and genre-specific stations.

The 2nd part of the report is an analysis on the overall Top 100 Radio Airplay songs in 2020, from 01 Jan 2020 to 15 August 2020, in all radio stations combined, looking at the gender disparity for Solo Female, Solo Male and Collaborations

This Report is based on British domestic only artists and those whose songs are registered on Radiomonitor. Radiomonitor is the industry standard music airplay monitoring service used by Record labels, Management companies and PR companies in the music industry to evaluate the airtime allocated to artists/bands who have commercial releases in the British market, and whose music is issued to British radio seeking radio airplay. All the radio data in this report is taken from Radiomonitor. 

For the purpose of gender disparity reporting, all songs have been categorised as either Female, Male or Collab.

This report was compiled by music industry consultant & publicist Linda Coogan Byrne & Nadia Khan of Women In CTRL an NPO for women in music.

New Rules Implemented Onto The Irish Charts

This week we see a huge difference in how the charts are formulated each week but I ask, it is enough? Or should more be changed?

Let me go through this with you. All this information is public domain and available on

Now let’s start here: The IRMA chart is compiled by Official Charts Company and covers artists from both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  The chart is supported by RTE as part of The Official Chart Show on 2FM every Friday night from 8-10pm, host Bláthnaid Treacy unveils the biggest Homegrown singles of the week, with the full Top 20 appearing on

This week sees new rules implemented onto the chart. Just one song per artist will be featured, being eligible for 13 weeks.

This could fair very well for women in music who are releasing. It means they won’t be faced with 3, 4, 5 releases by the same male act and up against multiple releases as they always have been. The playing field just got a whole lot more interesting. I foresee a lot more women breaking into the charts over the coming months… I may be wrong but…I may be right. (I know I will be right). Especially when radio realises it should be playing more women. (They eventually will, you will see!).

For example let’s move to the ‘Biggest homegrown singles’ released in 2020…

Picture This claim multiple songs in the year-to-date Top 10 biggest songs by Irish acts. The chart-topping group, who recently claimed their 15th Top 50 hit on the Official Irish Singles Chart, sit in the runner up slot with Winona Ryder, while Troublemaker ranks sixth. This isn’t any surprise as Irish Radio have been backing this band on high rotation. And they featured heavily in the recently published report outlining the gender disparity on Irish Radio. You can read that here.

Kodaline’s Wherever You Are and Sometimes are fourth and fifth, while Gavin James’ Top 50 single Boxes is eighth. Alt-rock Dubliners The Coronas are ninth with Haunted, taken from their upcoming album True Love Waits, and Dermot Kennedy is tenth with Resolution; the Matt Corby cover is taken from the bush fire relief compilation album Songs for Australia. I mean what are the chances of the biggest songs of 2021 including more women, or even one woman?

The Official Top 10 biggest songs of 2020 so far by Irish acts, is made up of an all ‘male’ list- again it’s a no brainer as to why this is… Irish radio heavily back male acts and it is then reflected in streams and downloads from an ever growing fanbase.

Question: If Irish radio backed its female acts in a gender balance across their playlists with an even representation would we be seeing a very different state of affairs than the below 100% all male cast? I’ll be keeping a close eye on this list as the year rolls out and in 2021.


©2020 IRMA/Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.


Irish music is celebrated each and every week with the Official Irish Homegrown Top 20, the only chart solely focusing on artists from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Today on Friday (July 10) sees new rules implemented onto the chart. Just one song per artist will be featured, being eligible for 13 weeks. Eligibility rules can be found by clicking here.

The Official Top 10 biggest studio albums of 2020 so far by Irish acts are listed below. May I just say congrats to Cormac O Caoimh a former client of mine, he is such an absolute gent and so deserved of any success he gets as he is a masterful musician and to the gems that are Hudson Taylor who recently stood in solidarity with the Gender Disparity and Imbalance across Irish radio.


©2020 IRMA/Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

When the very first charts were compiled by the New Musical Express more than 60 years ago, the process was a simple one – pick up the phone, call a few retailers and note down their sales to create the first sales charts in UK history. Today, six decades later and in a completely new millennium, the process could not be more different.

The Official Charts Company prides itself on providing the entertainment industry with the fastest and most accurate charts in the world. For the past 20 years, Leamington Spa-based Kantar has been the industry’s appointed chart compilation contractor – managing the vast databases and product identification processes on behalf of the Official Charts Company.

In Ireland & the UK, the music sector operates a Friday to Thursday chart week (sales counted from 00:01 Friday – 00:00 Thursday), while the video sector operates a Sunday to Saturday chart week (sales counted from 00:01 Sunday – 00:00 Saturday). So, it is just after midnight on Saturday morning (Monday morning for video) that Kantar receives the first feeds of data from the 15,000-plus chart-reporting retailers, who together represent an estimated 99% of the singles market, 98% of the albums market and 90% of the video market in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK.

This daily data-delivery process continues through the week, with music data delivered just after midnight on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then Thursday. 

Through the week, all of these sales are matched against databases of products (music and video) held by Kantar and verified day by day.

By Friday morning, the final day’s music data is added and, by lunchtime, industry clients are receiving their first glance of the week’s totals. This data is offered with multiple breakdowns of every title’s weekly performance – daily breakdowns, plus by region, format and retailer type (with all retailers categorised as either general/specialist, supermarkets, independents and digital).

The complexity of this rapid process should not be under-estimated – in many other key markets, the charts take several days to be delivered to the business, not just the few chart hours in which the UK charts & data are compiled. The process has become increasingly complex in recent years too, through the addition to the chart survey in 2004 of download sales (which grew to double the sales volumes of single sales in the biggest pre-digital eras) and, in 2014, of streaming.

The Official Charts Company has been collecting streaming information since 2008 (when the Official Subscription Plays Chart was launched) but only in 2014 did streaming finally enter the core Official Charts. The first to take on board audio streams was the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of July 2014 – with 100 audio streams (drawn from services such as Spotify, Deezer, Napster and O2 Tracks, among others) equating to 1 single purchase. In July 2018, video downloads and streams were incorporated for the first time.

While the addition of streams represented a hugely significant change in the history of the charts, it should also be seen as the latest step in the evolution of Ireland and the UK’s Official Charts.

In the earliest days of the UK’s singles chart, the dominant format was the 10-inch vinyl single. Since those days, the 10-inch has been superceded by multiple different formats – over the years, 7 inch, 12-inch, cassingles, 8-track, Digital Compact Cassette, MiniDisc, Compact Disc, USBs, UMD, DVD, Blu-ray, downloads and streams have all had their day, and have all been tracked in Official Charts.

And as technology and consumption habits continue to evolve, so will the Official Charts. However we must ask questions with this change. We all known that streaming is the way of the future. But there has to be a way to have International artists streaming numbers excluded or less % of them count towards the actual Irish Charts.

Spotify playlists created ‘in Ireland for Irish artists’ predominantly run the same way radio playlists are formed and by whom… in Ireland its James Foley who is one of the biggest playlisters – a white male who never ever answers his emails, yes you guessed it! Some of the Irish playlists have less than 45,000 followers meanwhile UK and International playlists have millions of followers. Meaning that the playlists for Ireland and Irish acts don’t have much impact on streams because they have such lower followings.

It all depends on playlist allocation on Spotify!

And being added to a playlists does not necessarily mean that the song is there because of demand. Nope. It just means some playlister allocates a song he chooses to be placed on a playlist and it generates a massive amount of streams for the artist that then goes on to count for chart inclusion. If the bigger playlists get bigger listeners, it means Irish Spotify playlists for Irish artist never actual equate to anything of worth, due to the low reach in listeners, and Irish artists never reach peak Top Chart positions in their own country!

The Official UK Chart is calculated by sales as well as both music and video streams, with a variable streaming ratio depending on whether the user has a free or paid subscription. This means that 100 paid streams will equal one sale, as will 600 free streams. I need to check if Ireland operates the same way. So expect a follow-up post on this.

In the UK, for example, if your track gets 100,000 paid streams across the various online music & video platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and other, they will be counted as 1,000 sales by the charts and included in your final sales total, whereas you’d need 600,000 free streams to generate that same number. Other sales include both paid digital downloads and physical releases.

How many sales do I need to get into the Official UK charts?

In recent years, the average UK Top 40 single will have made at least 8,000 sales, while the number one track will have sold around 100,000 copies. The figures for the Official UK album chart are similar, with the average top 40 album selling over 4,000, and the number one typically achieving sales of around 60,000.

Best known for the Official Singles Chart and the Official Artist Albums Chart, the Official Charts Company actually compiles more than 50 charts of different shapes, sizes and flavours – including a vast array of music genre charts and the Official Charts for the home entertainment industry, including the weekly Official Video Chart and the Official DVD and Blu-ray rundowns. You can read a good article on Ditto about how charts are calculated here.

A full schedule of the charts compiled by the Official Charts Company is outlined here: All the Official Charts. Many of these charts are incorporated into the new consumer-facing database hosted on – for some pointers on how to get the most out of this resource, check out their handy guide here.

In addition to high profile weekly announcements, RTE in Ireland and BBC Radio 1 in the UK also began broadcasting the Official Chart Update providing listeners with a summary of the biggest releases of the week to date.

In parallel with these publically available charts, the Official Charts Company also operates a range of data services for the entertainment industry.

The vast volume of data collected each week provides the basis for the music and video industry’s definitive market insight.

In turn, the data provides insight for key record labels, video studios/distributors and entertainment retailers (as well as a range of overseas clients) to assess the success of their projects on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. These services are available only to entertainment industry professionals, on a subscription and one-off basis – details for these services are available here: B2B data.

The synchronicity at play between how music is presented, streamed, played and platformed is changing fast, as is how artists and bands being broken commercially onto the market. Each platform plays a vital role that impacts an artists success.

If, and IF being the comparative word here, Irish radio stations enforce a change of how the playlists are chosen to represent a gender balance across their stations, then the reflections and ripples in the music scene as a whole would lead to massive alterations in how women and men coexist in the musical marketspace and landscape. As Spotify runs on pure chance, and heavily by white men curating the playlists too.

Food for thought eh?

An Open Letter To His Excellency Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

To his Excellency Michael D Higgins,

My name is Linda Coogan Byrne, my colleague Áine Tyrrell has been on to you also, as we are a united front, there will be many more women sending you a similar type of call to action email. I hope, you, as a feminist understand. 

We thank you for the ethical remembering you have brought to all corners of your presidency. Michael, you are a wonderful President we can be proud of. I met you a few times in Galway when I studied Renaissance Instrument making under the apprenticeship with Master Luthier Paul Doyle way back when I was only 19. There were many nights in the old wine bar on Dominick St in Galway were politicians and artistic minds alike gathered and spoke about the Ireland we wanted to create. I was 19 and in awe. I am now 37 years old and I wish to resume this conversation. Openly, and transparently. 

You are incredibly inspirational. Your speeches are powerful and poetic and are changing the fabric of Ireland to a more empathetic and deep listening country. I was so happy when you became President as you are and always will be one of our finest members of the community. 

To quote a statement you made in 2018 “I am proud to call myself a feminist. I believe global feminism has been a transformative source of new thinking… I’m heartened to see a renewed, inclusive, confident, feminism.” 

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

I just want you to know your words still resonates and have empowered so many women, including myself to rise up against misogynistic and sexist models that are visible in almost every corner of the globe but right now I speak of Ireland.  

Today I write to you on the injustice inflicted on our female musicians in Ireland and I am hoping that you can turn your power and poetry to something that needs urgent attention. 

You are our Feminist President and at this time we need men to help elevate our voices on some industry truths that have been muting and hurting our female musicians and as of today, only a handful of Irish men in the music industry have been brave enough to stand with us. I published a report outlining the Gender Disparity across Irish Radio stations, you can view it here:

You are a leader and we need our leader to help us. Ni Saoirse go Saoirse na mBan. I know when you read this report, that you will see this is not the type of Ireland that you want to see reflected in the time of your presidency.

As you have stated so powerfully so many times if in today’s current climate we are not seeking to INCLUDE the voices of those who have been historically silenced. We need to Re-Member our women and join them back into the conversation so that we do not just repeat the patterns of exclusion and selective history retelling. We need to do better for our future generations of women. 
Please take this letter as a request to draw your attention to THE GENDER DISPARITY ON IRISH RADIO

This report came about by my many years working in the music industry and seeing how female acts have been treated differently. I used my time in COVID to collect the data from RadioMonitor to see where the disparities were occurring. I reached out to Áine Tyrrell, RuthAnne and a handful of other Irish female musicians and asked would they all stand with me to release this report. Once the women all saw the data, they could not sit quietly anymore. It is shocking. It has not only shocked the women of the industry but the men too. You are free to read some of our countries finest male members of the music industry make statements on the findings on the report here:

At the end of this letter, I have also given you links to many of the press coverage articles in Ireland that have been so supportive of us and this movement about this issue. We celebrate Rte Radio 1 for their continued support of women and truly are honoured to know they work so hard to make sure they reach a 50/50 quota, but we are shocked to see ALL the other stations fall very short of any sort of gender equity and also the fact that only 1 member of POC or LBGTQI+ community amongst these figures male or female as well (we are hoping to release the next phase of this report soon to address these inequalities). 

Ireland is such an incredibly diverse country and the fact that so many voices are being excluded from our airwaves is very disheartening. It does not reflect who we are as a nation and definitely does not reflect the incredible wealth of female talent our country boasts. 

I know you, yourself, have invited so many Irish women to attend and sing at many of your functions at the Áras an Uachtaráin and other places abroad and I am sure it will hurt you and your wife Sabina to know that these are the women that have performed for you who struggle to make a living in our country due to the exclusion of our voices on the radio.

We have been advised that this is indeed a breach of our human rights as Irish women. This exclusion from radio breeches our right to a fair and equitable living within Ireland. I am sure you are aware that one section of the music industry affects the other and therefore our musical ecosystem in Ireland is failing women on so many other levels; with under-representation of females on festival line ups, on major labels, and booking agents.

We are committed to great change. 

We are committed to coming out of COVID with a “New Normal” on what we want our Irish Music Industry to reflect and support. 

But we need your help. We are a few Irish women from different corners of the globe fighting to make this report be the change we want to see, but we can only reach so far.  With your support, we could reach and achieve far greater.  We welcome a statement from you of any kind.  We welcome a meeting online or in-person to discuss these findings and our personal experiences.  We welcome you to engage with the conversation and help us not be the forgotten women of this decade.  We have already lost a decade of Irish women on radio and we refuse to lose another. 

The first time I met you back when I was 19 in Galway your humble power to hold court was something that at even a young age I found inspiring. As did many others. 

I know that YOU ARE THE VOICE that will help your Irish sisters on getting their songs and stories heard. You are the eloquence and power that we need. Please consider holding court for the Irish women of the music industry.

Go raibh mile maith agat, 

Le Meas, 
Linda Coogan Byrne













The Headstuff Encore podcast IV with Aine Spotify link is here: Direct link here:

IV with Linda and Riverside Radio (London)