Garth Brooks + Wal-Mart= Win?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Friday, Billboard announced the news that indeed the
ultimate superstar of country music Garth Brooks has
signed an exclusive deal with the retailer Wal-Mart.

First of all, before I'm asked about this becoming a trend
let's get this portion of this issue straight. It will
not be a trend. The reason is very simple. Not many
other artists have this kind of intense demand and success
to allow for this. If another artist did an agreement
like this, well, they just wouldn't sell many albums and
probably would disappear. This is not so with someone
like Brooks.

I have written and discussed that just this thing would
happen ever since his appearance in June at the Wal-Mart
shareholder meeting. In discussions with friends, I
predicted this almost 100% correct.

Now, with a deal like this being made what do I think? It
sounds like a win-win-win situation to me. The fans get
their music at the nice Wal-Mart price and surely will be
able to find it. Brooks certainly will make a nice amount
of money off the deal. Wal-Mart will no doubt be making a
nice profit off the sales of Brooks? music since they are
the only retailer to be able to sell his music.

The argument has begun about if it is only available at
Wal-Mart, it will affect sales. No way. Think about
this. I can?t think of anywhere that isn?t within a short
driving distance to a Wal-Mart these days. Every Sunday,
there is a circular in the newspaper to make the public
aware of their specials. With no doubt, the advertising
department of Wal-Mart will be sure everyone in the world
knows exactly where they can come to find his music. If
by some chance there isn?t one convenient, there is always
walmart.com to visit that not only can you purchase the
albums, but could also download individual singles from
Brooks. The only type of sales that may suffer are
impulse buys at the other retailers. If a listener wants
Brooks? music, they are going to have no problem getting
it and knowing where to get it will be drilled into their
head by one of the best companies I can think of for
marketing and advertising: Wal-Mart.

All fifteen albums Brooks has released will now be
available only at Wal-Mart once the product that has been
printed by EMI/Capitol has sold. The rumor is the first
release from Brooks and Wal-Mart will be a four-CD set
that will include some previously unreleased material.
That doesn?t mean new songs, but hopefully it does. To
make this deal truly work, Brooks better release a new
album in the near future. His audience doesn?t want more
collection packages. They don?t want another pretty
picture on an album that they already have the songs (and
many have more than one copy and the biggest hits on more
than one album.) They want new music. If this doesn?t
happen, and quickly, this deal with Wal-Mart will hurt the
career of Brooks.

Brooks announced his retirement a few years ago and has
stood by his message that he will not return to touring
until 2015 (once his youngest daughter finishes high
school.) I don?t believe it still and this is yet one
more step closer to his return. They may not be the
extended world tours, he may not swing from ladders and
smash a guitar, but I have a good feeling he will be
returning to at least short-term tours. If the crowd
control and security can handle it, I wouldn?t rule out a
few in-store appearances from Brooks either.

This is yet another chapter in the biography of Brooks
that certainly will be interesting to read one day.
Brooks is one of country?s most talented performers and
vocalist. He is also one of the smartest when it comes to
the business side of the business, which he is proof just
may be the most important, sadly.

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