In the age of streaming, especially in country music, Morgan Wallen reigns supreme.
He had the top streamed song on Spotify in the United States this year with “Last Night,” top streamed album in the United States with One Thing At A Time, and “Last Night” was also at the top of Apple Music’s 100 most streamed songs globally for 2023 list.
In addition, “Last Night” topped the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 for 16 non-consecutive weeks, which was tied for second longest run of all-time and the longest run of a non-collaborative song. It also topped the Hot Country Songs chart for 25 weeks and became the first song to ever rack up 1 billion total streams within a calendar year.
The song was also named Billboard’s top song of the year, and One Thing At A Time was the top album.
To say that he had a monster year, both on streaming and radio, feels kinda like an understatement.
Any kind of artist, from a young up-and-comer to a legend like Dolly Parton, would only hope to have half that kind of success with their music in this age of streaming.
I think anyone who’s pursuing music as a full-time career would only imagine dominating the way Morgan did in 2023 in their wildest dreams, and it sounds like they’re all obviously taking notice.
In an interview with Billboard recently, for a feature about Morgan, Dolly’s manager Danny Nozell told them that he’d “love to apply” some of Morgan’s strategy when it comes to streaming to Mrs. Dolly:
“This is a new generation that is streaming, which is something new to Dolly. What Morgan is doing, I want to take and see how I can apply that to Dolly.”
I think we’ve already seen a little bit of that in action with her recent full-fledged rock and roll album Rockstar, which featured 30 tracks and is essentially a double album, though it wasn’t exactly marketed that way.
Morgan really got the double album trend going back in 2021 with his mega successful Dangerous: The Double Album, which certainly helped kick his streaming success into high gear with 30 songs for fans to listen to, a big contrast to the traditional country album that usually contains 9 to 12 or 13 songs max.
Of course, that only multiplied tenfold when he released his aforementioned 36-song One Thing At A Time album, which continues to chart and will likely remain somewhere on the Billboard Top Albums list throughout 2024, as well.
Since that release, artists like Cody Johnson, Zach Bryan, Jason Aldean, Luke Combs and more have all followed suit with their own double albums.
Like him or not, it’s hard not credit Morgan for the resurgence of the double album in country music (which, yes, had been done before him, but not this way with streaming dominating the way people consume music)… and with the success he’s had in doing so, why would you want to try and emulate that?
If we know one thing about Dolly Parton, it’s that she’s a savvy businesswoman with a knack for making the right decisions, so I’d say she’s pretty damn smart to be looking at Morgan’s career and applying some of that strategy to her own — as funny, and maybe backwards, as it may sound.
And since it was the song of the year in 2023, I’ll leave you with my favorite version of “Last Night”: