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How Noah Kahan’s ‘Stick Season’ Zoomed From 100 to 3 on the Billboard 200 in a Week

"At Mercury, giving artists the time to develop and find their path is what matters most to us," says label general manager Ben Adelson.

This week’s Billboard 200 is led by a paid of familiar faces in Morgan Wallen and former One Direction member Niall Horan. But coming in at No. 3 behind those two is a complete newcomer to the top echelon of the chart, with an album that’s more than eight months old: Noah Kahan’s Stick Season (Mercury/Republic), which saw its deluxe version come out and send the album soaring from No. 100 to No. 3 on the chart with 71,000 units, far and away the best mark of Kahan’s career.

It’s a big moment for Kahan, who also achieves a slew of additional firsts in his career: his first entry on the Hot 100, with the No. 43 debut of “Dial Drunk,” which also reached No. 1 on Hot Alternative Songs; and No. 1 album markers on Top Rock & Alternative Albums, Top Rock Albums, Top Alternative Albums and Americana/Folk Albums for Stick Season, which saw a vinyl release of the original version the same day that the deluxe, with seven additional tracks, was released. And the rejuvenation of the album, and Kahan’s career-best marks, earns Mercury Records general manager Ben Adelson the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.


Here, Adelson talks about the strategy for boosting Kahan’s album — his third for Republic (the label relaunched Mercury Records in April 2022 with executive vps of A&R Adelson and Tyler Arnold at the helm, at which point Kahan moved to Mercury) — to career highs, and how the label developed the singer and songwriter over the years to get to this point.

“The landscape of the business is always changing but the one thing that remains constant is true artistry,” Adelson says. “Our belief in Noah from the beginning has always been in him as a songwriter and artist.”

This week, Noah Kahan’s Stick Season jumped from No. 100 on the Billboard 200 to No. 3, becoming the highest-charting album of his career and his first-ever top 10. What key decisions did you make to help make that happen?

It was truly a team effort, from making the incredible records with Gabe Simon, Konrad Snyder, Carrie Karpinen and Ryan Hewitt to the amazing teams at Mercury Records, Republic Records and Noah’s management at Foundations Music. There was such a cohesive partnership between the songs, creative and rollout that the buildup to its release felt more about an artist than a singular song or moment.

Noah Kahan
Noah Kahan Josh Goleman

This week’s deluxe reissue coincided with the first time the original was available on vinyl. What was your sales strategy with this release?

Alex Coslov, our head of marketing at Mercury, and Kevin Lipson, head of commerce for Republic, identified the fan demand for vinyl as we were releasing the original album. We started on production early and they saw the opportunity to deliver the vinyl on the same date as the new album. It was a key part of this week’s number, showing the true passion of Noah’s fans.

Last week, the album earned 11,000 equivalent album units; this week, that ballooned 574% to 71,000 units, with 48,000 of that unit count coming from streaming. What changed between the album’s initial release and this deluxe reissue that helped streams explode that much that quickly?

Sometimes, it’s just letting the music shine. Noah made a fantastic album featuring some of the best songs I’ve ever been a part of. With seven new tracks on Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever), we put a marketing strategy together of sharing the new music as early as possible with his core fan base. Alex Coslov and the team treated the rollout as a new album, not a reissue, and with engagement high throughout the past year that momentum brought in all the fans.

Latest single “Dial Drunk” is Kahan’s first No. 1 on Hot Alternative Songs and his first-ever song to hit the Hot 100, coming in at No. 43 this week. How have you built that song, and his profile at radio, to reach new heights in his career?

Noah Kahan and Noah Levine, who plays guitar in his band, wrote the song together and we knew it was special from the first time we heard it. Amanda Dobbins, Drew Hauser, Gary Spangler and the entire Republic radio team immediately started getting plans together, and with the amazing job they’d already done over the years at Triple A and Alternative, we were set up perfectly for this moment.


This is Kahan’s third album for Republic, and the first to reach this level of success. How did you bring him along steadily in an era of the music business when so much happens so fast?

The landscape of the business is always changing but the one thing that remains constant is true artistry. Our belief in Noah from the beginning has always been in him as a songwriter and artist. We’ve always wanted to support him however we could, and we followed his vision and passion for this album. At Mercury, giving artists the time to develop and find their path is what matters most to us.

What have you learned from watching his career grow? And what are the plans to continue growing from here?

We have learned at Mercury that supporting our artists’ creative visions and instincts is the best way to achieve true success. For Noah, that meant going back to his roots of growing up in Vermont and New England and using that to guide the album, art, marketing and creative. Noah’s accomplishments have reinforced our belief that taking the time with genuine artists and never cutting corners, even with the current challenge of breaking acts, truly works. We know things will only continue to grow for Noah and it is our responsibility to make sure that each step of the way feels authentic to him and his fans.

Previous Executive of the Week: Jon Loba of BMG Nashville