A week after the 2015 Country Music Association Awards (CMAs) and the night’s big winner, Chris Stapleton, has watched his album, Traveller, and the single, “Tennessee Whiskey,” shoot to the top of the Billboard charts. Up until the CMAs were broadcast live on November 4, the name of singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton was relatively unheard of among the American public. Sure, he had been nominated for a few awards at this year’s event, but country music radio still wasn’t — for the most part — playing his music. Andy yet…
As The Tennessean reported November 11, sales of Chris Stapleton’s Traveller has shocked Nashville’s Music Row, not just with the unprecedented number of actual units moved (over 176,000, placing at the top spot on the Billboard 200, the magazine’s all-genres chart) but also in that the movement was accomplished through nearly no help from traditional methods. Of course, the stirring duet with pop superstar Justin Timberlake at the awards ceremony and the performance going viral did a lot for Traveller‘s sales, but it should be noted that the sales started late in the week (thus prompting analysts to predict that Traveller may stay atop the Billboard 200 for at least two weeks as country music radio, which hasn’t really been supporting the album, starts playing more of the artist’s music.) And a sales increase bump from winning awards (Stapleton won New Artist, Album of the Year, and Male Vocalist) was also expected — just not such an enormous sales bump.
According to The Tennessean, the album, which features a more stripped-down, traditional style of country music that hasn’t seen the airwaves on country music radio in years (except through established stars like Miranda Lambert), saw a 6,000 percent increase in sales (sales jumped from 3,000 units to 176,000) following the CMA awards show on CBS Television. Traveller, which was released on May 5 spent seven weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, peaking at No. 14 in its debut sales week, and gradually fell off. But this week, Traveller, which had sold a respectable 114,000 copies in all prior to the CMA Awards show, reentered the Billboard 200, reappearing at the top of the all-genres chart — virtually from out of nowhere. (Note: It goes without saying that the album, which is Stapleton’s first solo effort after fronting the popular bluegrass band, The Steeldrivers, topped the Country Albums chart, where it formerly had peaked at No. 2).
Not only did Traveller hit No. 1, but the song Chris Stapleton performed with Justin Timberlake, “Tennessee Whiskey,” soared into the No. 1 position on the Country Hot Songs chart as well. That particular song, which is a cover of the George Jones classic (itself a cover of David Allan Coe’s original 1981 recording) that reached No. 2 on the country charts (called Hot Country Singles back then) in the 80s, only charted for a week prior to Stapleton’s CMAs appearance. Following the album’s lead, the single rocketed back onto the chart, bypassing all the popular entries for the week. Four other songs from the album charted as well, but, more significantly, was that “Tennessee Whiskey” also topped Billboard’s Country Digital Downloads chart.
And to add to the unprecedented nature of Stapleton’s achievement, he still has yet to register on the Country Airplays chart, the Billboard chart that plots country music radio airplay. Although industry experts are expecting the lead single and the new single, “Nobody To Blame,” to make a dent on airplay chart in coming weeks.