Spotify Refuses to Reinstate Morgan Wallen Into ‘Hot Country,’ Its Biggest Country Playlist

Morgan Wallen missing on Spotify's 'Hot Country' playlist (photo: Digital Music News)

Spotify’s ‘Hot Country’ playlist, pictured March 18th, 2021 with 6.273 million followers (photo: Digital Music News)

Over the past few weeks, Spotify has been quietly reinstating Morgan Wallen into a number of high-ranked country playlists after removing him in early February. But the company is stopping short at Hot Country, easily its largest playlist in the genre.

It looks like Spotify is only willing to reinstate Morgan Wallen to a certain extent. Over the past few weeks, we’ve reported on reinstatements involving multiple Spotify country playlists, as well as the release of enhanced versions of Wallen’s latest album, Dangerous: The Double Album.  But Digital Music News has now learned that Spotify is stopping short of reintegrating Wallen into Hot Country, given the “bad optics” of the situation and aggressive pushback from its own employees.

Country fans on Spotify will know Hot Country as the big kahuna of country playlists on the platform. It’s essentially what Rap Caviar is to rap and hip-hop, and boasts an impressive 6.24 million followers. Indeed, any country artist slotted onto Hot Country is likely to experience an immediate bump in attention and fans — though Spotify is now understood to be blocking Wallen from the playlist entirely with no longer-term plan for reinstatement.

The decision comes despite heavy demand for Wallen’s music on Spotify’s platform.

The singer remains a mainstay on Spotify’s rankings of most-played artists and songs, in spite of— or more likely because of — the artist’s mass-cancellation by the music industry in February. On Spotify’s ranking of most popular songs in the US, for example, Wallen’s “Wasted on You” has recently been ranking alongside songs by mainstream hip-hop and pop artists like Drake, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Juice WRLD, and Justin Bieber. Other Wallen songs are also performing well, with multiple tracks surging past 100 million streams and powering a record-setting 9-week run for Dangerous atop multiple album charts (with a 10th likely ahead).

Despite some serious competition, Morgan Wallen remains the best-selling artist of 2021, and has already notched an all-time sales record in the country music genre.

That’s undoubtedly putting pressure on Spotify to reinstate the artist into country playlists, though it now appears that the company is calculating a delicate balancing act. In early February, Spotify removed Wallen from all of its curated playlists, though the company also released an expanded version of the artist’s ultra-popular album. That release appeared to be coordinated with Wallen’s label, Big Loud/Republic (Universal Music Group), which “indefinitely suspended” the artist in February.

Despite the limited playlist reintegrations, DMN is also learning that Spotify may be benefitting from a large migration of Morgan Wallen fans who have ditched their local country radio stations.

Earlier, Wallen was removed from virtually every radio station in America. But that prompted a massive backlash from listeners, along with threats to stop listening entirely.  In response, multiple stations across the United States have quitely (or not-so-quietly) reinstated Morgan Wallen, even in defiance of corporate orders.

Just yesterday, Digital Music News first reported that multiple stations under the Cumulus Media umbrella have started playing Wallen again, with multiple iHeartMedia stations also potentially breaking ranks in the coming days.

One company refusing to budge is the Academy of Country Music, a group that banned Wallen from awards eligibility after the artist was filmed uttering the n-word last month. Accordingly, Wallen will be conspicuously absent from April’s Academy of Country Music Awards, despite the artist’s recent record-breaking successes. Just last week, the Academy doubled down on its ban, and reportedly requested that Wallen’s name not be mentioned before, during, or after the awards show broadcast.

33 Responses

  1. Re. Al Itycheck

    Wallen is a smelly stain on the underpants of country music. Those who support him are complicit.

    • Scope Monkey

      God bless Morgan Wallen. Thank you Spotify for giving him more press and more album sales.

      • Paula

        Album sales don’t come from press. They come from people buying units. The people that support this artist either don’t care about racism, or they support it. Either way, it is sad commentary on society when anyone does something negative and gets increased sales.

        • BAC

          Wallen wasn’t racist. He was loud, drunk, and stupid, and if I was his neighbor I’d love to punch his lights out, but he wasn’t racist.

        • Carifazz

          Lady it has nothing to do with what he said that wasn’t racism get over it he is an amazing artist that’s why he got sales and we will continue to support him

        • Morgan Wallen Fan

          Maybe people out of mind their own damn business. I am sure you’ve never said anything out of line.

        • Anonymous

          Speak for yourself, I don’t think he’s a racist, he used that word to a white buddy being drunk and talking like rapper would talk to his buddies! My gosh this is so incredibly ridiculous! He didn’t beat anyone or break a law!

    • Julia

      If all smelly stains on the underpants of country music
      were highlighted equally to be seriously and thoughtfully reconciled by all lovers of country music and we all recognize what is hurtful and needs restitution and forgiveness; then Al Itycheck, fair treatment and a loving healing from the country music community makes us all better people; we all grow. Please extend do those whom you feel have wronged you and country music, some of your wisdom and goodness that I am sure resides in your heart.

    • So OVER it

      Not according to MANY people but you’re entitled to your opinion.

  2. Milton Allen

    So now Spotify has more compass – what a Hoot!

  3. tim crook

    guess what? He doesnt give a fuck and is rolling in cash no matter how hard the wokesters try to take him down.

    • Fern

      Having money doesn’t mean he isn’t a loser, racist.

      • JAS

        Only losers in this whole saga are the ‘woke’ cry babies.

        Go run off to your safe space…

      • Anonymous

        I know he’s not racist I’ve know his family for a long time

  4. Anonymous

    Love conquers hate; if you can’t be kind be quiet. If you can’t forgive someone then mind your own business. Life is making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on. I’m a proud Morgan Wallen Supporter. Morgan Wallen has the best music out there. He is a legend in the making. I look forward to seeing him continue to prove that he is the best ever! Oh; and he has the best fans ever; we love him.

    • Joanie

      That’s a bunch of BS. The whole premise of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is a load of crap. People need to understand when they make a mistake and it is troubling. By supporting him, you support racism.

      • JAS

        he made drunken comment…doesn’t make him racist.

        Obviously you will call me racist, you couldn’t be more wrong.

        Ome comment should not destroy anyones entire life.

        What was it Jesus said?…something about, casting the first stone…

        • God

          Wow, you’ve lost it. Jesus reference? Cmon, what else did Jesus say about treating your fellow man…something or another? You think Jesus would be ok with racism? How about a guy who said racist shit multiple times?

          • LS

            Being young, drunk and stupid doesn’t make him a racist (and he was on his own property). He made a mistake, owned up to it and apologized. I guess all of you out there that can’t forgive are perfect. And it’s okay that black artists can use that word in their music and on camera-such a double standard! Things will never change with racism in this world until we are ALL treated equally! Jesus isn’t okay with racism but he forgives everyone, every time!

        • Merv Harris

          So, if you killed someone on your own property, but were drunk, that’s ok? Bunch of idiots trying to justify this situation.

          • Righteousness

            Uhh, I think there is a difference between killing someone and using a bad word!!! Especially to a white person! Everyone is so righteous! You are or were a saint your whole life weren’t you?

  5. Anonymous

    Spotify is not putting him on Hot Country because of pushback from their employees. Apparently they don’t care what their listeners (prior listeners) think. Morgan Wallen is not going away.

      • Black chick Wallen Fan

        That’s what you think
        Morgan Wallen is one of the best country music voices of all time he is not racist at all… You people crying over over something somebody said outside their own home while drunk, wow reaching much y’all just need something to b**** about well get a freaking life

        • Burt

          Zzzz. He is racist and that is indisputable. Like his music all you want, but get a grip on reality.

          • Connie0

            I’ve known his family and him racist is the last thing he is so u get over it

    • Murry

      More idiocy from you under your many, many screen names. It won’t work. You’re asleep at the wheel of intelligence, and have crashed hard.