Tag Archives: Morgan Wallen

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Journalists

Let’s see.

The Los Angeles Times laid off >20% of the people who work in its newsroom. Line up five people. One is given a cardboard box. About 115 people got boxes.

Over at Time magazine, the CEO sent out a memo to staff that says, in part, “We must continue increasing our revenue while managing operating costs efficiently. Over the last 12 months we have diligently reduced our expenses. There is still more work to be done.” More work to be done by fewer people, as the union that represents Time’s editorial staff reported that 15% of its members were let go.

Business Insider’s CEO’s memo pointed out that last year they developed a vision and “This year is about making it happening and focusing our company and efforts toward the future.” Then the other shoe dropped: “Unfortunately, this also means we need to scale back in some areas of our organization.” As in some 8% of its employees being eliminated from the rolls.

Sports Illustrated, which figured a few years back that while it might have some of the best sports writing in the known Universe, putting sexy women in bikinis on its cover would provide more visibility for the brand and at the very least one-time purchases by people standing in line at Barnes and Noble, had about 100 people in its newsroom. Week-before-last the management sent out emails to many of those writers and editors advising them that their services were no longer required. And some of those remaining got a message telling them that they have 90 days or so. Sports Illustrated is owned by Authentic Brands. Authentic Brands also owns an array of other brands that aren’t ink-on-paper or digits-rendered-on-a-screen, like Airwalk and Eddie Bauer, Dolce and Gabana and Juicy Couture, Quiksilver and Reebok. It also owns the right to Elvis. Perhaps before you know it, when the King’s cred diminishes, his likeness will be looking for work.

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Of Jawbreakers, Paleontologists and Morgan Wallen

Let’s assume you run a candy store. You have an assortment of sweets.

There are candy bars. Suckers. Mints. Jawbreakers. Truffles. Gum.

People come into your shop and one after another buys the jawbreakers. They all leave the store looking like they have a massively swollen cheek on one side.

Soon there are few left. There is the usual number of other items bought. But the jawbreakers exceed expectations.

So when you make your next order, you not only buy grape and cinnamon, but go for a variety of other flavors like chili and bacon.

After all, you are in the business of moving product, and the jawbreaker seems to be the candy of the moment.

Which brings us to music.

Consider this from the “2023 Luminate Year-End Music Report”:

In March Morgan Wallen released One Thing at a Time.* The album generated 482.65m On-Demand Audio (ODA) streams, or about 20% of all Country music streamed that week (a total of 2.22 billion for the category).

Country music had more than a moment in 2023. Luminate, a company that provides data and analysis for the music and entertainment industries, determined Country was the fastest-growing streaming genre in the U.S. While those 2.22 billion streams might seem like a lot, in July the number of Country streams hit 2.41 billion.

While billion is a word that is commonly thrown around nowadays to the extent that it really doesn’t mean much, here’s a way to think of it courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology:

“If you, and one descendant per generation, saved $100 every day, and each of you lived for 90 years, it would take you and 304 generations of your descendants to save up one billion dollars.”

Yes, a billion is a lot. And 2.22 billion is a lot more.

So if you’re in the music business in the U.S., odds are you’re going to start providing a whole lot more Country acts to your catalog, including the analogues to chili and bacon and whatever else sounds intriguing.

Not only did the genre grow 23.7% in the U.S. in 2023—which puts it in third place, behind World and Latin music, but they “only” had 5.7 billion and 19.4 billion ODA streams compared with Country’s 20.4 billion—but the listeners of Country largely consist of Millennials and Gen Z, which means that there is a potential long future for the genre.

(Let’s go Museum of Paleontology for a moment. Let’s assume that the average length of Country songs is three minutes. If there were 20.4 billion streams, that’s 61.2 billion minutes. One billion minutes equals 1,902.6 years—yes, just shy of two millenia. So the number of streams goes to 116,439 years. That’s a lot of listening.)

Speaking of time, albeit in a comparative blink of an eye, the flurry of purchases of musician catalogs over the past few years notwithstanding, Luminate calculates that when the top 500,000 tracks in the U.S. are looked at, music released during the past five years account for 48.3% of all the ODA. While that means, of course, that 51.7% of the music is over five years old, and therefore some venture funds might be cashing in on their catalog buys, one could argue that music streaming began with Napster in 1999, so that 51.7% is spread across 20 years.

Which brings us back to near the top.

While one might assume that the top album U.S. in 2023—including physical sales, on-demand streams, total album equivalents, and on-demand video—was something by Taylor Swift, it turns out Morgan Wallen’s One Thing at a Time was at the top, with total album equivalent consumption of 5.362 million units. Swift’s Midnight was second at 3.209 million.

However, looking at the top 10 Swift seriously dominates. Wallen has an album at number five, too, Dangerous: The Double Album, which had 2.179 million units. That means a total 7.541 million.

Swift albums were also at 4 (1989 (Taylor’s Version), 2.872 million), 6 (Lover, 1.875 million), 8 (Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), 1.775 million), and 9 (folklore, 1.612 million).

Her accumulated number is 11.343 million units.

If we take the average length of an album (going to the classic 20 minutes per side of a disc), then Swift’s number equates to 453.72 million minutes of music listened to in 2023.

While that may seem like a lot, it is not something that would even raise an eyebrow of a paleontologist: it is only 863.24 years of listening.

Which brings us back to the top of the top.

There is something called a “Mega Bruiser Jawbreaker.” The world record for eating one is 17 days, four hours, eight minutes, 19 seconds.

During the 863.24 years of listening to Taylor, only some 18,535 Mega Bruisers could be consumed.

So were you to be running a candy store, that’s not the kind of jawbreaker to order.

But if you’re in the music business, Swift and Wallen are the flavors that matter.

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*The album was released on what is arguably one of the best label names in the business: “Big Loud.” Damn right.