The massive success of Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol. 1 has catapulted his 2015 debut Traveller to double platinum status based on domestic sales.
It’s the first country album to top 2 million unit sales since Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party, featuring Stapleton co-write “Drink a Beer,” reached the same mark in June 2014. Furthermore, both of Stapleton’s albums are country’s top-sellers in 2017. It’s the strongest sign to date that traditional sounds can compete fiscally with more pop-oriented and radio-friendly music.
Stapleton can credit much of his success to crossover appeal. That’s not to say that he’s won over the entire fan base of former duet partner Justin Timberlake. Instead, the heavy, bluesy riffage on such tracks as Traveller‘s “Outlaw State of Mind” and the more recent “Second One to Know” surely appeal to record collectors and fans of Southern rock. Radio stations don’t play those listeners’ preferred styles either, making Stapleton a breath of fresh air outside country music circles.
On the flipside, pop-friendly county retains its clean bill of health in the summer of Stapleton. Sam Hunt owns the Hot Country Chart in historic fashion with “Body Like A Back Road,” while the usual suspects dominate Forbes’ list of the year’s top earners.
Roots-minded artists have infiltrated the mainstream before without completely reshaping the charts. Ricky Skaggs, for example, transitioned to solo success in a pop-dominated era. Skaggs didn’t halt Lee Greenwood and the like from piling up more hits. Instead, he built a reputation that still allows him to make a living off his music. Stapleton’s impressive run has him riding that same train to freedom, even if so-called “bro-county” isn’t likely to get derailed.