Morgan Wallen‘s rising star power took a beating on Wednesday as radio chains pulled his songs from their stations after he was caught on camera using the N-word.
The 27-year-old country hitmaker swiftly released an apology, but one brand expert tells Fox News this “seismic” moment has likely spawned a one- to two-year setback in his career.
Eric Schiffer of Reputation Management Consultants tells Fox News Wallen’s racial slur was “lethally stupid for him to do given his rising stature as a country star.”
“Morgan’s case will cause him short-term financial pain,” Schiffer said. “If he reaches out to those in the African American community through action and within media, he should be able to return to his pre-incident levels within a year or two.”
Wallen’s fallout in the music industry proved to be immediate Wednesday afternoon, as radio chain iHeartRadio pulled all of the artist’s songs from its stations and Cumulus Media, the second-largest radio chain with 400-plus stations, followed suit. His record label Big Loud Records also suspended him.
Schiffer said the controversy is particularly detrimental in early 2021 given the death of George Floyd and protests against racial inequality that followed.
“This is a case where a heartfelt apology doesn’t take him out of the septic mock of this cancel culture that America lives in. Brands take these types of incidents very seriously and many feel principaled that they need to stand up and protect against those kind of actions,” Schiffer claimed.
Though the expert reiterated his assumption that the artist’s musical career isn’t over for good.
“It’s a setback but it’s not a blistering catastophe for the future of his career. It is, though, a seismic moment and one that is probably a big wake up call,” Schiffer shared.
Morgan’s 2020 was not without other media blunders. The entertainer was blocked from a scheduled performance on “Saturday Night Live” after a video surfaced of Wallen at a crowded party without a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. He appeared on the sketch show months later.
Schiffer said Wallen’s apology on Wednesday was a good first move but said the musician’s future success is dependent on a more mature approach to his actions and words.
“He has to let the dust settle and allow the apology to permeate. In time, he’ll find that this moment, if he uses it maturely, can be a period in which he can show a greater level of sensitivity to all racial communities as an icon of country music,” Schiffer analyzed. “His career’s not done. He took responsibility. But he will need to ensure he doesn’t put himself in vulnerable places in the future that alcohol, frankly, can do.”
Wallen’s remorse comes after TMZ posted a video of the artist returning home on Sunday night with a group of friends. The clip shows Wallen walking up his driveway as he refers to one of his friends as the N-word and uses other profanities. A source claimed the group had been out drinking hours prior.
Wallen told Fox News in a statement on Wednesday he was “embarrassed and sorry” for using the racial epithet.
“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better,” he said.
In order to regain respect from the public, Schiffer said if Wallen were his client, he’d tell him to “get the drinking in control, reach out to those Black communities and to the labels, and perhaps spend time with those who have suffered from these kinds of experiences.”
“He needs to level with them to understand what they’ve gone through so that he could show he’s developed a greater sensitivity,” Schiffer added.
Award-winning country artists Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini were among several of musicians who denounced Wallen on Wednesday.
“The hate runs deep. Smfh,” tweeted Mickey Guyton, who later added: “How many passes will you continue to give? Asking for a friend. No one deserves to be canceled [but] this is unacceptable.”
“It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word,” Morriis, 30, tweeted. “We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”
CMT, the country music television channel owned by Viacom, also suspended Wallen’s music. The company wrote on social media, “After learning of Morgan Wallen’s racial slur late last night, we are in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms. We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion.”
Wallen is also no longer eligible for this year’s Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.