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Morgan Wallen’s music sales, streams spike after artist caught on video using racial slur

Written by on February 6, 2021

Morgan Wallen has faced a week of repercussions after a video released Tuesday showed the singer using a racial slur, but the artist is seeing a spike in album sales and streams.

The video was released Feb. 2 around 9 p.m. ET. In the following days, Wallen’s streams and album sales spiked despite major radio players, IHeartMedia and Entercom, announcing his music would be taken out of rotation, according to data by Billboard and Rolling Stone.

Billboard and Rolling Stone’s data compares radio airplay numbers to the number of sales and streams of Wallen’s music between Tuesday (when the video was first released that evening) and the days after.

His radio airplay across U.S. genres fell from 2,100 plays on Tuesday to 617 plays by Wednesday; an approximate 71% drop, according to Billboard’s data.

But Wallen’s album sales and streams saw an increase despite the radio declines, according to Billboard.

His total catalogue of albums and songs sold 22,500 copies combined in the U.S. on Wednesday, while a day earlier, his total copies sold was a combined 5,000.

Rolling Stone reports numbers that point to the same spikes reported by Billboard.

There was a 79% drop in radio play between Wednesday and Thursday following the video’s release, according to Rolling Stone through their data analytics provided by Alpha Data.

The same data points to the artist’s sales increasing 1,220% between Tuesday and Wednesday.

His position on Spotify’s top streaming charts also saw an uptick since the incident. Wallen is absent from Spotify’s premier country playlist, yet his songs are elevating on the app’s top U.S. streaming charts. On Tuesday his popular song “Wasted On You” was ranked No. 14 on the Top 200 chart, but by Thursday, two days after the video was released, “Wasted On You” jumped to No. 9.

Other artists have experienced spikes in streams after facing scandal. In 2019, R. Kelly’s music saw a similar spike.

In the three days after the premiere of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a documentary that delved into sexual and physical abuse allegations against the artist, Kelly’s daily song and album sales more than doubled when compared with daily sales for the previous two weeks, according to data compiled by Nielsen, a data analytics company best known for TV ratings. On-demand audio streams for the same period showed a 76 percent increase and video streams increased by 85 percent.

Morgan Wallen on Nov. 11, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Morgan Wallen on Nov. 11, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the video, Wallen told a friend to “take care of this… (slur),” apparently referring to another person in the group while being dropped off at a house. Wallen said he is “embarrassed and sorry.”

“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” Wallen said in a statement. “There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”

Since then he has been suspended from his record label, cut off from his agency, William Morris Endeavor, and deemed ineligible for Academy of Country Music awards.

“The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn’t align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion,” the ACM said in a Twitter statement Wednesday, just two months ahead of the 56th ACM Awards in April.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Morgan Wallen: airplay down; sales, streams up after racial slur video

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