Noters are noting that while three country records sit in the Top 10 on the most recent HITS Album Sales ChartGaither’s Joey + Rory (#5), Mercury Nashville’s Chris Stapleton (#6) and RCA/Zone 4’s Kane Brown (#7)—none are being driven by mass radio airplay. Instead, each is a unique phenomenon, with sales being fired by the artists’ stories, word of mouth and grassroots fan connection.

Stapleton has passed the 1m mark, with the vast majority of those sales since his breakout CMAs performance and Grammy moment (his Traveller, a fixture in the Top 10 at iTunes nowadays, came out in May). The bearded breakout's “Nobody to Blame” is Top 10 at Country radio, but his sales onslaught began well before the track started spinning in earnest. Joey + Rory have amassed 250k+, while Brown (whose “Used to Love You Sober” is #45 at Country) scored 23k in his debut week.