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Morgan Wallen music sales spike after racial slur despite drop in airplay, analysis finds

Radio and streaming services dramatically reduced Morgan Wallen's music in their rotations this week, but sales skyrocketed.

Sales for country music singer Morgan Wallen spiked more than 300% at the same time country radio and streaming services were pulling his songs from their rotation following the release of a video showing him using a racial slur. That's according to data reported by Billboard.

Wallen was suspended indefinitely from his label and saw airplay of his music drop Wednesday after the video was published by TMZ Tuesday night. The video showed Wallen outside a home in Nashville, Tennessee, yelling profanities and a racial slur.

Billboard, citing MRC Data, reported this week that Wallen's radio airplay dropped 71% on Wednesday compared to the day before. His airplay had remained relatively consistent for the five days leading up to the release of the video. A similar drop was noted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. 

But, preliminary reports from MRC Data indicated that sales from Wallen's catalog of albums and songs went from a combined 5,000 on Tuesday to 22,500 on Wednesday -- an increase of 339%. Billboard did not offer an explanation as to the reason for the spike.

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Wallen said in a statement to TMZ that he was embarrassed and sorry for the incident.

“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. 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,” his statement said.

This was not Wallen's first incident that has brought scrutiny.

Wallen was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct in May 2020 after getting kicked out of a downtown Nashville bar.

In October, “Saturday Night Live” dropped him from a scheduled performance on their show after he violated COVID-19 protocols when videos appeared on social media of him partying with fans in Alabama. He was later invited back on the show in December, where he appeared in a skit making fun of himself.

Wallen has been of the genre’s biggest young stars. His sophomore album, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” is spending its third week atop the Billboard 200 chart and it has set several streaming records, even besting the recent release from country star Luke Combs. Wallen is also one of the few country acts to score a Top 10 hit on the pop charts, thanks to the success of “7 Summers” and “Wasted on You.”

Credit: Katie Darby/Invision/AP
Morgan Wallen performs during the Can't Say I Ain't Country Tour at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on Saturday, August 31, 2019, in Atlanta. (Photo by Katie Darby/Invision/AP)