Is this the new reality of how and where fans find and consume music these days, or, is it fans rejecting a cancel culture that has run amuck? Banned-from-radio Morgan Wallen is the best-selling artist of 2021, he has the most Spotify streams and biggest album sales.
As digital and streaming music listening has become a regular part of our lives, especially with younger generations living on their mobile devices, radio executives have been saying for years that their stations are still, and always will be, the destination for new music. That services like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music are like our old cassette-tape music collections.
How does Morgan Wallen fit into that explanation?
Wallen’s album Dangerous has been on top of the charts for 6 consecutive weeks. Nearly the entire radio industry banned Wallen 4 weeks ago after a leaked video showed him using a racial slur. Was his momentum so strong nothing could stop him? Was he just too big to fail? Is this a wake-up call for radio’s power to create the stars?
Bob Lefsetz, who’s widely respected for his many years writing about the music industry, asks the question, “Is Wallen going to be excised from the airwaves and playlists forever? “When does he get out of music jail? “Maybe Wallen should apologize directly to those who’ve dropped him. Individually. Cumulus, iHeart, Big Loud and the streaming companies who have demoted him. Come on, what is worse than standing up in front of your parents, or the school principal, and admitting you’re wrong? Talk about shame. But if we never let Wallen back he and his fans will become embittered, the problem will only get worse.”
Digital Music News reports that radio is sticking to its guns with the Wallen ban and that’s angering fans who have vowed to stop listening if Wallen wasn’t reinstated. “So far, however, stations seem to be sticking to the ban. But that stance is having little impact on Wallen’s sales and popularity. That’s a far cry from the pre-digital days of traditional radio, when broadcast radio could easily make-or-break an emerging artist.”
Lefsetz says cancel culture in America today has gotten out of control. “I call for Morgan Wallen to immediately be reinstated on radio and streaming service playlists. Let this be a teaching moment. Let these outlets put out press releases saying what the point is, that it’s been made, and they’re embracing Morgan Wallen back into the fold, because America is one big tent and we all need to get along, that we all make mistakes, but they are all different and should engender different penalties and Morgan Wallen has paid the price.”
Should radio bring Wallen back?