After Morgan Wallen was caught on video using a racial slur, the country music star's professional world seemed to come crashing down. Radio stations quit playing his music, his recording contract was suspended, and the Academy of Country Music announced he won't be part of this year's awards. TMZ aired the video Tuesday night, and on Wednesday, his radio air play indeed fell 70%, Forbes reports. But even as institutions sanctioned Wallen, fans rewarded him. He had sold 1,000 albums on Tuesday; on Wednesday, sales topped 8,000. Wallen posted download song sales of 4,000 on Tuesday, then 14,000 on Wednesday. His online streams did not suffer after being taken off Apple Music and Spotify playlists. Alpha Data, which is behind the Roling Stone Charts, showed sales jump of 1,220% from Tuesday to Wednesday, with song sales up 327%, per Rolling Stone. "The fans are not backing away from him; if anything, they're leaning in," an industry source said.
And the record company's action doesn't mean much, per Rolling Stone. "A suspension itself effectively does nothing," said Karl Fowlkes, a music industry lawyer and professor, adding that it keeps the artist under contract until the company decides whether to release more music. "Even in between projects and album releases, there’s never a rush to meet any timeline that’s on these contracts. Since there’s never a sense of urgency on that, simply shelving an artist is a PR response." The move protects the record company's investment, a manager said. "There are a lot of sports teams that would say, 'Look, you're not going to play, but we're not going to release you so that you could go play for somebody else.'" Another industry lawyer said: "I can't imagine an indefinite suspension is anything other than the label needing to issue a statement for PR purposes." Wallen had "a drunken night out" when he said a bad thing, the lawyer said, adding, "Unfortunately, we still live in a country where the country music market will forgive that more than once." (Read more country music stories.)