Besides the acknowledgement that Garth Brooks is about to announce a major tour and that he has signed a record deal with Sony Music Nashville to release his new album, the big news from the country superstar’s press conference for music retail and consumers is that his album will be coming out sometime in November, close to Black Friday — and that his music will finally be available digital.
But in a curve ball, Brooks is doing it his own way and not giving his music to iTunes and other digital stores. Instead, his music will only be available digitally at his own website, garthbrooks.com.
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Brooks said that up to now, he had “never allowed” his music to go digital. That is because he disagrees with iTunes policy that allows for individual tracks to be bought from albums. Brooks wanted iTunes to sell his music only in album form, but iTunes head honcho Eddy Cue wouldn’t back down on the company policy of allowing individual track sales. In fact, he didn’t back down when the Beatles finally decided to go digital, so he held firm with Brooks too.
Although Brooks didn’t get into any of his interaction with iTunes, he said, “We will do our digital the only way we can. Digital will be handled at garthbrooks.com.”
He said the music would be available digitally “in the next few weeks.” He also said that, while he is not giving away his music, his entire catalog would be available “at a stupid price.”
In addition to the choice of buying the entire Brooks catalog in one digital package, it makes sense that he will also offer individual albums.
But what’s unclear (because nobody asked this at his press conference) is whether the music offered on his website will be available as downloads or streaming. Its more likely the latter; artists reluctant to transverse the divide from packaged goods to digital usually go the download route first.
But the comment about making all of his music available at a stupid price could also be interpreted as a possible subscription service with an annual payment for tethered downloads.
It’s also unclear how successful going it alone on digital might be. Since the Beatles went up on iTunes, their catalog has scanned more than 16 million track downloads. Will Brooks fans all make the trek to his site?
Meanwhile, Brooks also said that his music would be available at all retail, not just Walmart, which previously had a deal to exclusively carry and sell his catalog from 2005-2007.
“We are going to all retail,” Brooks said. “Walmart is a wonderful relationship and Target has been way too good to us. But our music is going everywhere, and if the stores that weren’t in on the Walmart deal now say, ‘Keep your stuff,’ I totally understand.”
Brooks also addressed the controversy surrounding his recent Ireland concert cancellations, announced earlier this week. The country superstar recently cancelled all five shows scheduled for later this month at Croke Park in Dublin after the city council decreed that he would only be able to perform three shows at the space.
“The people of Ireland are the most loving people on the planet,” Brooks said in the press conference. “However, the system needs to look at itself… Don’t sell a show to people and get their hopes up and then cancel it. It just isn’t fair.”
Brooks told the crowd of his desire to make these shows happen, but that “the powers who can fix [this] are not here. If the prime minister himself wants to speak to me, I will crawl, swim, and even fly over.”
(Additional reporting by Noah Schoer, Billboard)