Morgan Wallen and other country music superstars helped the genre’s radio consumption grow steadily over the past few years, according to a new polling study. Thanks to Wallen’s double album, Dangerous, and other musicians like Taylor Swift, Walker Hayes, and Gabby Barrett, country music actually outpaced all other sectors in the industry.
- According to multiple metrics, country music consumption grew in the past two years
- Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album helped bolster total radio listens, which is the lifeblood of the music industry
- Streaming and social media listens also increased in the country music space, but those platforms typically rely on older songs
The results of the poll, conducted by MRC Data, showed 68 percent of country music fans said they listen to songs on AM/FM radio. This information matters because it proves country music fans drive advertising since they prefer radio over streaming. The poll showed a 14 percent overall consumption growth, as well, according to Inside Radio.
“Traditionally, our answer to [why country music fans stream less than other genres] is because the demographic skews older, and they’re used to their tried-and-true things,” MRC Music’s John Murphy said about the findings. “That’s certainly evolving and is less and less of a crutch to lean on. [They] know they are going to have songs that they know and like played for them.”
Morgan Wallen helped country music radio, but older catalogs also helped the industry via streaming sites
As far as total music consumption is concerned, country music artists accounted for 37 out of the top 200 songs of the year. Wallen and Chris Stapleton accounted for five of those songs themselves. Country’s share of the Top 200 albums gained 2 percent in 2021 for 11 percent of the market, largely because of Dangerous.
“The way to think about this is this is just a slice off the very tippy top,” Murphy elaborated. “The combination of purchasing albums as well as listening to those albums on streaming services [applies]. If you only consider the Top 200 albums of the year, then country made up a bigger percentage of those top 200 albums than the rest. It speaks to the growing cross-genre appeal of country. People are shifting some of their listening into country releases. It may not be their No. 1 genre, but they’re paying attention.”
While Wallen and others are driving radio consumption, streaming primarily thrives on back catalog listening. On average, songs older than 18 months drove over 70 percent of all country music streams. That’s a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year.
“In the pandemic, we saw that people were listening to older catalogs,” Murphy says. “The thought here is there’s a good amount of that still carrying forward. If you look at any of these sites where you can add music to user-generated content, it is becoming a big component of catalog.
“Users are constantly uploading songs that are three to five years old; and it’s a good reminder for people to [think], ‘Hey, don’t forget about these songs.’”