Ryan Adams has long been a staple of the triple A radio format. Since Billboard‘s Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart’s inception in 1996, the singer has a pair of No. 1s and nine top 10s, plus a new song, “Fuck the Rain,” that reached the top 20 of the Adult Alternative Songs tally this week (dated Feb. 16).
But in light of allegations of misconduct in a Feb. 13 New York Times article, including claims he texted inappropriate messages to an underage girl, the radio format’s longtime mainstay is being removed from the airwaves.
According to data from Nielsen Music, “Fuck the Rain,” which was released in January and rose to No. 20 on the latest Adult Alternative Songs list (released prior to the NYT article), is beginning to be removed from airplay by the 42 radio stations that make up the chart’s panel. After accruing 54 spins each on Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 11-12, respectively), the song dropped to 45 spins on the day of the article (which was released at around 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 13).
On Thursday, Feb. 14, it was down to 26, with the bulk of those plays (16) coming during the overnight (midnight-6 a.m.) hours. It was played only once between 3 and 7 p.m.
And as of press time on Friday (Feb 15), according to real-time Nielsen Music data, the song played just seven times in the overnight hours and once since 6 a.m. ET.
Billboard reached out to multiple radio programmers whose stations had been spinning the song prior to the NYT article; in all cases, the programmers’ stations had spun “Fuck the Rain” at least 10 times in the preceding seven days.
While some programmers declined to comment on their inclusion of the song in their playlist going forward, others, who asked to not be named, agreed to speak to Billboard, all saying they had removed the song — and Adams’ back catalog — from rotation.
“Once we got his texts of him sexually harrassing a 14-year-old girl, it was like, no, we have to stop,” one Virginia programmer told BIilboard. “As of midnight [Feb. 15], it’s gone. I mean, all of it. The entire catalog.”
Noting that though there had been numerous previous accounts of Adams being a “jerk,” the programmer said that once the NYT allegations came out, “I’m not rewarding this guy anymore. That’s stupid. Go count your money. I don’t wanna be complicit.”
“We pulled all of his music today, which was a difficult decision,” said another programmer. “On the one hand, I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but on the other hand, in the court of public opinion, he has already been convicted. And public opinion is what impacts our listeners.
“I’ve always believed that what you don’t play doesn’t hurt you, but what you do play can. If it were only library tunes, no one would even notice, but because we are playing “Fuck the Rain,” his song comes up often enough to be noticed. I contacted my Capitol rep this morning and explained our decision to him.”
A third was succinct: “Suffice to say we’ve pulled all his music (including the new single) and are not spinning any of his tunes at this time.”
Each of the programmers to whom Billboard spoke did not foresee adding Adams’ music back to rotation anytime soon.
One triple A programmer, WPYA Birmingham’s Geno Pearson, agreed to go on the record, and his response struck the same chords: no more Adams.
“We are deeply concerned as it relates to the information brought to light yesterday and are currently considering the best way to address this on our radio station,” Pearson said. “For the time being we are going to currently pull his music off of our station, especially with the feedback we have received from our listeners. Our listeners have let us know their opinions on the matter and we want to do what is best for our listeners and the station.
“This is total a shock to me,” he added.
A request for comment from Capitol, which handles Adams’ radio promotion in the U.S., was not returned at press time.
Adams first made the Adult Alternative Songs chart in 2001, with “New York, New York” leading the list for three weeks (Dec. 1, 2001). He added a second No. 1, “Lucky Now,” which topped the Dec. 10, 2011, tally. In all, he’s reached the chart 16 times since 2001.
He had planned to release three albums in 2019, led by Big Colors on April 19, but the release of those albums has been delayed, sources tell Billboard.