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Country star Morgan Wallen sees album sales spike despite industry backlash over N-word video

Morgan Wallen was dropped from radio airplay, suspended indefinitely by his label after a video of him shouting a racial slur was published.
Morgan Wallen Live From The Ryman
Morgan Wallen performs onstage at the Ryman Auditorium on Jan. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.John Shearer / Getty Images for Ryman Auditorium file

Despite being actively shunned by his industry after video of him shouting a racial slur was published, country music singer Morgan Wallen has seen a spike in album sales and streams.

The video, published last Tuesday by TMZ, has spurred a flurry of consequences for the singer: He was pulled from airplay by several major radio groups, suspended by his label, reportedly dropped by his booking agency and denied eligibility for a major awards competition. Yet Wallen saw a 1,220 percent increase in digital album sales and a 327 percent increase in song sales between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Rolling Stone.

The country music phenom also saw a 6 percent increase in on-demand audio streams and 16 percent increase in programmed streams, the magazine reported.

However, the artist saw a 79 percent drop in radio play compared with the previous two days, Rolling Stone reported. The drop came after radio chains — including Cumulus, iHeartMedia and SiriusXM — announced that they were pulling his songs.

Wallen did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but told NBC News Thursday in a statement that he was “embarrassed” by his behavior.

“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,” he said. “I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”

In video obtained by TMZ and published Tuesday, a rowdy Wallen can be seen pulling up to his Tennessee home and shouting to a friend: “Hey, take care of this "p---- ass motherf-----. ... Take care of this p---- ass n-----.”

TMZ reported that Wallen, 27, and a group of friends were seen Sunday night partying in Nashville. When they returned home late, a doorbell camera captured them honking their horns and shouting. A neighbor then pulled out a cellphone to record a video in which Wallen can be heard yelling the slur, according to the website.

Big Loud Label, which releases Wallen's music with Republic Records, suspended Wallen's contract indefinitely.

"Republic Records fully supports Big Loud's decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated," the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The Tennessean of Nashville reported that the talent agency WME had dropped Wallen from its roster.

Wallen emerged as one of the country’s biggest streamers when "Dangerous: The Double Album," was released last month, remaining at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for three weeks — the first country album to top the list for that long in eight years.

The incident wasn’t the first time the country music star was embroiled in controversy.

In October, Wallen was pulled as the “Saturday Night Live” musical performer after he was seen in TikTok videos partying without a mask and kissing random women, putting him at risk for the coronavirus.