Friday, August 19, 2005

Garth Brooks: The Antichrist

http://www.billboard.com/bb/daily/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001018037

For those too lazy to quickly peruse that article, i will sum it up. Garth Brooks has officially aligned himself with Walmart for their stores (along with the Walmart owned Sam's Club, as well as both websites) to EXCLUSIVELY sell his music. This means that if you want some shitty faux-country played by a chubby guy in a two-toned shirt and a cowboy hat, you have to trek your ass to Walmart. Not only does this align him with, arguably, the most evil retail-corporation in the world, but i also believe that this is proof that Garth Brooks has absolutely zero concern for his fans, and is effectively, shooting any chances of a comeback in the foot.

Let's tackle this in order, shall we?

First of all, this was done soley for money, which must be a large upfront check, along with a higher percentage of record sales. However, let's think about the logistics of this: Walmart has 4,700 stores world wide (http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2003/3044wal-mart.html). While this sounds like a good ammount, some quick math and internet searching has come up with the fact that this number isn't neccessarily all that important. Just looking at the currently most sucessful Internet and 'brick and mortar' stores, there will be 1200 Best Buys in North America by the end of next year (http://www.stores.org/archives/cover.asp), and Amazon.com, in 2001, had over 4 Million visitors during the Christmas rush (http://www.boxesandarrows.com/archives/the_evolving_homepage_the_growth_of_three_booksellers.php).

Now, certainly Amazon.com's business has grown since 2001, and on top of that most visitors that go to Amazon.com, even more so than Best Buy, are looking for a specific product. If you want the new Artist X album, you can type in Artist X, or the title of the record, and immediately you are seeing a price, a picture of the album, a review (or more), sound samples and customer comments. Now, this is not saying that someone looking for a new Artist X album may not wander into a Walmart for the same product, HOWEVER, only 2% of Walmart's total sales are music related (http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/_/id/6558540/thekillers?pageid=rs.Home&pageregion=single1&rnd=1097616001120&has-player=unknown).

The disturbing fact is that this still accounts for almost 20% of the music purchased in the United States.

However, if pure numbers are we are looking at, let's say that Garth Brooks sells even more than 20% of his records at Walmart - i'll be unrealistic and say he sells 50% of his records there. Well, how many people that make up that other 50% will travel to Walmart to buy his records? Compound that with the fact that he has retired from the music business until 2015 (when his youngest child graduates high school) so the only 'new' records in the realistic future would be live recordings and/or outtakes/rairites, both of which routinely sell worse than a new album. The only truly marketable record would be a new greatest hits record, which i am SURE you will see at Walmart registers within a year.

So besides from the die hard Garth Brooks fans, who will hear of his new releases via his website, or the casual Walmart shoppers, how will his fans get his music?

Now i am a bad example of this because, most people i am a fan of, i am a FAN of - i know when their new records come out, i preorder them and i occasionally buy multiple copies to give to people who i know will like it but wouldn't think to buy it. But let's take my lovely girlfriend, Erin, as an example. She is a big Ben Folds fan - seen him live twice, owns most of his records, and i'm sure would classify herself as a fan. Until i told her, she did not know there was a new Ben Folds record out. So, let's suppose that she now wants this record. Where is she most likely to go looking for it? Guess #1 - the mall - now, if Folds had pulled a Brooks, then she'd be shit out of luck. Try #2 - the local record shop - whether that be an indie retailer (like Rock and Groove {soon to be closed} in Closter) or the Sam Goody down the block (like in Wyckoff or Englewood) - sorry, no go. Or maybe when you stop by your 'more than a bookstore' chains like Borders or Barnes and Noble - nope, sorry. If Ben Folds sold exclusively through Walmart, Erin would be shit out of luck unless she ordered from Walmart's website, because there is not a Walmart in or near Teaneck, NJ until you go out to either Saddle Brook or Seacaucus, neither of which is exactly a stroll down the road (even though they are deceptively listed on the Walmart website as 4.38 and 6.90 miles from Teaneck, respectively).

Finally, the reunion business is big money these days. Bands that were only (at best) marginally financially successful during their original inception are making a boat load of money on the touring circuit these days. Bands like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Gang of Four, Mission of Burma and the New York Dolls are making at least ten fold what they used to touring, because over the years since their demise, their catalogs remained (mostly) in print, and word of mouth brought new people to discover their music, even when radio didn't play their records. There have been plenty of artists (including the aforementioned Pixies) who i really got into after their breakup, whose catalog i have purchased, and who i have paid a LOT of money to go see live since their reunion. This doesn't take into account bands that never really left, like the Dead (previously the Other Ones, previously the Greatful Dead) and the Rolling Stones, or the reunited supergroups (The Eagles and Cream) who have put their kids' kids' kids' kids through college with their touring revenue. Even though the Stones release new records every few years, their catalog is what makes them all their money. If a kid gets into the Stones, what's he going to buy? Bridges to Babylon or Exile on Main Street? The big albums of the past are still the big albums of the present for so many of these bands.

So when, and if, Garth Brooks decides to start touring again, will his fan base even be there anymore? I can see many country music radio stations phasing him out a) if no new product is released and b) simply out of principle. If a radio station is owned by a parent company that owns a music store (which many, many do), are they really going to advertise a product that they have 0 chance of selling? Brooks' catalog will only drop in sales while being exclusively sold at Walmart, and yes, while sporadic projects (like a new box set or compilation) might sell even millions of copies, Brooks will likely make a good ammount LESS new fans by not having his records out there.

So basically, Garth Brooks is a whore who doesn't like his fans and who is putting the final nail in the coffin he bought with an extra large cranial area to fit that hat.

3 Comments:

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Eileen said...

That's a whole lot of research for Garth Brooks. Are you a closet fan? Or are you more into Chris Gaines?

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger Erin said...

A) Agreed with Eileen -you need a hobby.
B)I would never buy from Walmart unless Nsync starting excluseivly selling there
C)Garth Brooks may have killed his career, but luckily his fellow country star Chris Gaines is going strong.

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writter of this article is full of shit! Though nearly all the major corporations are evil and greedy, it still does not take away the fact that Garth Brooks is/was one of the most talented country singers and performers of all time! The evil corporations are here and here to stay unless they are centralized in a Communist or National Socialist manner (which to many degrees would be worse than it currently is operated) so who else is going to sell his albums? E-mail your comment(s) to revjrokni1488@yahoo.com concerning my comment...

 

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