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Garth Brooks now a Wal-Mart only artist

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You have to give Garth Brooks credit for boldness. He has now signed on with Wal-Mart as an exclusive artist. As the owner of all his own masters, he will soon be available only at Wal-Mart stores and their online shop. They expect to start with some kind of box set in time for Christmas. Capitol can sell the stock they had made before Brooks signed his deal in June, and that’ll be it.

This is a pretty big deal. Artists occassionally have a temporary exclusive for a big retailer, or maybe a side project, an exclusive video maybe. But a major recording artist signing up to have all their music available only through one retailer is unprecedented. What kind of ramifications will this have for the music industry?

For one thing, Billboard notes that under their standards, releases not available to all retailers are not even eligible for the main Billboard 200 album chart. But how credible will that chart be if it doesn’t reflect the sales of perhaps tens of millions of Garth albums? What if other artists follow suit with similar exclusive deals through K-Mart or Best Buy?

Not many rock singers would be likely to consider such a deal just on general grounds of fearing a label such as “corporate whore” or “tool.” Of course, Garth Brooks starts out so far into that territory that it makes no difference. The red state dominated audiences of a lot of country acts likely wouldn’t attach any such stigma. That represents a pretty big chunk of business right there that could be spinning out in a new direction.

This sure doesn’t seem like a good time to start a record store. This exclusive deal idea could easily be really tough for any kind of record store competitors. Wal-Mart cuts out all the record companies and rack jobbers and everything. Plus, they might well find it strategically useful to treat Garth as something of a loss leader, a lure to get customers into their stores even if they don’t necessarily make much on his albums per se. But then those margins won’t matter to independent retailers, since they won’t be able to get the album at all. Maybe the local mom and pop record shop can send someone over to buy some Garth albums from Sam’s Club for resale.

On one hand, not even being available in most retail outlets might encourage more people to just download his stuff peer-to-peer. On the other hand, Wal-Mart might well sell his stuff so cheap as to cause most people to just go ahead and buy the retail album rather than fooling around with the computer stuff for the difference. Think of all the DVDs in the $5.50 bins now. They very well could make good money selling exclusively licensed CDs even considerably cheaper.

This isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, Wal-Mart is know for being nothing if not ruthlessly cost efficient. There’ll be no ridiculous profligate record company nonsense driving up their prices, the kind of stuff parodied in the dope and sex orgies of BFD records in the infamous Sgt Pepper movie, available on DVD at your local Wal-Mart.

Plus, I bet they don’t spend several million dollars at a crack on short form music videos, or other such profligate nonsense in order to scratch for exposure. Nor will they need to bribe radio stations to play their stuff; they can just play their new Garth albums in store x ten million or so Wal-Mart stores.

One odd thing about all this, Garth Brooks signed up for this big exclusive all encompassing history making deal- yet he seems to have made no commitment to actually record new music for Wal-Mart. He has nominally vowed not to make another album or do a concert tour until his young daughter graduates high school in 2015. They’re scraping around for some unreleased recordings, but he seems ambivalent about making any new music.

He’s got a lot of material to re-package and re-release. But can the world wait that long for a new Garth Brooks album?

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  • I love the guy, I don’t love Wal-Mart.

  • Well written article, Al B.Unfortunately, Garth is not my cup of tea especially his stance against used CD’s in the 90’s. I am neither red or blue so I believe the corporate whore tag would apply. But, I’d probably do the same thing.

  • Well, this business move strikes me as more interesting than any of his actual music.

  • This just looks sinister and wrong.

  • I can wait forever for a new Garth Brooks CD. Maybe even longer. He belongs at WalMart – it’s where his fan base shops.


  • Cerulean, could you please elaborate? In what way would you say that this deal is “sinister”?


    Any word on who Chris Gaines signed with?

  • grumpca

    Garth Who? As the owner of a mom and pop CD store I can’t remember the last time someone actually bought one of this discs new or used. Somebody stick a fork in him cause he’s done. Still this kind of exclusive deal is bad for the industry that made Garth a multi millionaire and it’s bad for his fans. If it wasn’t for the big evil empire of EMI spending millions promoting and selling his discs, he’d be pumping gas in whatever hick village he comes from. As far as I’m concerend Mr. Ego can crawl back into his cave and dissapear. His lack of integrity has been evident at every stage of his career and it follows him into obscurity. I will not stock any of Garth’s noise in my store and will encourage anyone and everyone to download it and copy it and share it with anyone who is willing to tollerate it.

  • Brings new meaning to Friends in Low Places.

  • Make that “Friends in Low Priced Places.”

  • Good one…

  • Thank you. Thankyouverymuch. I’ll be here all week.

  • allie

    Hey to all of you Garth Brooks “haters”. Get over it! He is amazing I got to meet him on Friday and he is the nicest person I have ever met! Be happy for people that have worked hard to get where they are, dont always be putting them down out of jealousy!

  • Allie

    To whoever Grumpca is, GROW UP! I can tell by the message that you wrote you have NO class! He is an unbelievable person! I met him and he is the most respectful man i have ever met! I dont think your message is going to make a big impact on his record selling since he is the 3rd biggest! And as you, being a cd saler, or whatever you wanna call yourself, you can just quit putting people who have made it further in the world than you, down! Thank you! Hope you have a nice day saling CD’s!

  • No Allie, I don’t put Garth down out of jealousy, but only because his music sucks so horribly bad while being so omnipresent. He is, as Kinky Friedman puts it, the anti-Hank.

    On the other hand, I’m sure he’s a fine fellow and a great daddy. I bet he’d be a fine neighbor- so long as he didn’t play guitar and sing in the back yard where you’d have to hear it. So long as he kept his playing confined to Wal-Mart parking lots, we’d probably get along just great.

  • Allie

    Hey I wasnt neccessarily talking ab you! And I really like his music! a song was actually played at my grandmother’s funeral whom I was very close to.

  • Allie, if ol’ Garth does it for you, knock yourself out. I’m guessing that you might look at me funny to hear some of what I dig on.

  • Allie

    Thanx! Dont worry I do! I am just a small town oklahoma girl who loves country music and HATES criticism probably because that is what our town thrives on it’s ridiculous!

  • josh

    No matter what anyone says Garth Rules!
    He also has a new song out and a new album to come.

  • Sandy



  • allie

    Hey its allie again! and I agree completely with you josh! And Sandy why is it 2014?

  • tom jeffers

    he is the man if you do not like that e-mail me

  • Monsieur Jeffers, it’s OK if you for some inexplicable reason like Garth Brooks records. But perhaps you might reach out sometime and try, say, a Merle Haggard album, or perhaps some Little Jimmy Dickens or something.

  • This is cute. “Tom Jeffers” manfully suggests that one should email him if they disagree with his high assessment of Garth- then he puts no email addy in the form.

    By the way all, note that we’re note displaying the emails on the page. The server emails the comments to the author- me in this case.

  • The anti-Hank is rising, the end is nigh!

  • Yes, lions are laying down with lambs, and cats have begun have sex with dogs.

    RED RUM!

  • allie

    Hey Mr. Al Barquer, One comment for you. . . Get some class! You sound like a [Deleted]! All I know is that you make yourself sound like a [Deleted]! Thanx!

  • Someone special

    Al Barquer…Mr. big guy…all i gotta say

  • Ryan W. Thomas

    By the way, what does Anti-Hank actually mean?

  • Good question, Ryan. I’ve never heard Kinky explain this famous description of Garth Brooks. By describing Garth as the “anti-Hank” he probably means something like that Garth represents the opposite or the negation of the artistic values of Hank Williams. Hank was the haunted soul of passion, the tortured soul out on that lost highway. Whereas Garth might be represented as the epitome of corporate country, a soul-less market-driven Madison Avenue idea of “country music.” Something like that.

  • Becky Fitts

    I enjoy listening and seeing Garth’s performnces.
    He is a great entertainer and I wish him well in all of his new ventures. I will stand by him on any label he choses to be associated with. Good Luck, Garth!!!

  • I wonder if Mr. Brooks realizes that Wal-Mart is a company that exploits many of his fans through unfair employment practices.

  • Monsieur Delano, I’m no fan of Garth Brooks music, however I will defend him here: No, Garth Brooks is not some lame ass pinko whining because Wal Mart doesn’t pay everybody as much as they would like to be paid.

    Indeed, in this Thanksgiving week we should give a spot of thanks to Wal Mart for providing us with not just very low prices, but also for providing a zillion jobs.

    Thank you, Wal Mart.

  • i would like to thank wal mart for forcing all of its suppliers to obtain every last scrap of merchandise from the cheapest sources possible.

    i would like to thank wal mart for creating a singularly bad and hecktic shoppping experience.

    i would like to thank mal mart for refusing to sell cds that are deemed ‘inappropriate’.

    i would like to thank wal mart for adding irony to the world: all of the folks who used to sport “Hungry? Eat Your Import” bumper stickers now shop there.

    gawd bless america.

  • Monsieur Saleski, you make three charges against Wal Mart.

    For the first one, I reverse your irony and sincerely thank Wal Mart management for hunting down the cheapest sources for the goods that I need to buy.

    The second one simply doesn’t jibe with my shopping experience. I don’t see how the Wal Mart shopping experience is especially bad or hectic. Their stores are usually busy, but perfectly nice. In particular, I’ve pretty much never had to wait for long periods in checkout lanes like at lots of places, and like I remember doing at K-Mart in the olden days.

    Finally, it is not Wal Mart’s moral responsibility to sell products that they don’t want to sell, particularly items whose presence will piss off more customers than it pleases. I suppose you could decide to be offended because you want some fresh porno, and the evil corporate bastards aren’t stocking Cheyenne Silver videos.

    Personally, I’d like for them to greatly increase their selection of guns and ammo, but that’s life.

  • i honestly don’t care what walmart sells, since i don’t ever go there. it’s like shopping at a madhouse.

    to me, they’re all a part of turning this country in to one coast-to-coast strip mall….and i’m not gonna help ’em out.

  • But Mark, Wal Mart is reducing the number of stores, remember? Sure, they open a new store- but that puts a dozen little half-assed stores out of business.

    Still, you’re welcome to go live on nuts and berries out at Walden’s Pond. I’ma head out to Wal Mart and buy something for dinner, though.

  • walmart also overbuilds and those closes some stores after the have put their competition out of business. not only that, they make sure that their own closed locations can’t be used for anything else.

    capitalism may be amoral, but i don’t have to be.

    i’ll frequent my local mom&pop stores while they still exist.

  • Albundy

    Do whatever pleases you, and be happy! I don’t think that God cares if you shop in Wal-Mart or a little pop stand! He cares about the character you show! Thanks!


  • It’s fun to go to Wally World.

    • You’re greeted by a senior citizen days away from death who needs a job to supplement their income to pay for their medical expenses and their new drug plan from Medicare. That should be Medi-Don’t Give a Damn, but that’ll be another post.
    • As you prance around the store buying items really cheap you run into all kinds of interesting employees. They either speak english and have no teeth or they hardly speak english and have no green card.
    • As you fancy the items in your Wally Cart, you are so overcome by the fantabulous LOW prices that you fail to realize that half the stuff in the carriage you don’t need and another quarter of it is substandard and won’t last beyond one season. But, damn, it’s c-h-e-a-p!
    • Then it’s to the checkout where you wait in line like cattle at the slaughter house. You get to the cashier who happens to be three days younger than your kid in college and this cashier has all these pretty buttons on her Wally smock and she’s proud because she has a Wally career! As Bobbie Jean cashes you out, she comments on various items that you’ve picked and tells you how much of a wonderful shopper you are!
    • After paying for all your bargains you proceed out the Wally door where your elderly greeter has been replaced by another elderly greeter because the first one keeled over and died while you were shopping. Oh, but not to worry, Wally World will be selling caskets any day now.
    • And you know what the ultimate irony is? Many of these shoppers go to Wally World every day just to socialize!
  • Mark

    The verdict doesn’t mak sense. A spoiled millionaire has-been country singer gives an anonymous donation, can’t remember what was agreed to verbally, didn’t agree to the naming rights that were offered (comenserate with a 500k) gift, was offered his money back, but refused to take it, then sued a not for prifit healthcare company that gives away millions of dollars of charity healthcare per year to the people of Oklahoma, and he’s the victim? I am destroying all of my Garth Brooks music, never listening to another Garth Brooks recording ever again, and will make it one of my life’s goals to make sure everyone knows what a bigoted hillbilly Garth Brooks is.