Garth Brooks isn’t on iTunes.

Garth BrooksGarth Brooks isn’t on iTunes.

You probably already know that. It’s not a big secret. In fact, with the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and AC/DC having all come around within the past few years, Garth is one of the only major iTunes holdouts remaining. Apparently a big believer in album-as-body-of-work, he doesn’t want his songs available à la carte. He doesn’t like the fixed pricing structure, either. And so he vows to not do business with iTunes until they effectively let him control how business is done.

An interesting stance, but probably one easiest to support if your millions were already made by the time iTunes came along. For an up-and-coming singer of today, refusing to put your music on iTunes wouldn’t be a very wise business decision. But if you’re Garth, you don’t need iTunes.

Garth Brooks isn’t on iTunes.

An interesting factoid, maybe, but (you’d think) mostly a symbolic gesture. After more than 128 million albums sold, hasn’t everyone who ever wanted Garth Brooks music already acquired it? In fact, when we’re talking about a singer who was that overexposed for that long, does anyone even need the music itself anymore? We all pretty much know the songs of Garth Brooks by heart, whether we want to or not. There wouldn’t be an outcry if “Happy Birthday” were unavailable on iTunes.

Garth Brooks isn’t on iTunes.

Let’s say that, by some chance, you do not own any Garth Brooks music (sorry, do not own a license to play any Garth Brooks music) and do not have access to anyone else’s collection of guilty pleasure ’90s music. Aren’t cheap copies of his albums freely available in bargain bins and unlocked F-150s nationwide? The shelf space for music at my local Walmart has greatly diminished over the past several years, but there are still a bunch of Garth Brooks albums for $3 apiece.

Even a kid can afford $3. That’s less than you’d pay for the same album on iTunes, and much less than the hospital bill after some guy cracks you upside the head for snooping around in his F-150.

Oh, but Garth Brooks isn’t on iTunes.

Judging from the number of people arriving on our satirical article about Garth Brooks music coming to iTunes on a daily basis, it’s a subject of great concern. From the search terms they use, it’s obvious that these people aren’t driven by an academic interest in the intricacies of Garth’s opinions concerning digital music; no, they’re searching in terms that suggest they’ve just unsuccessfully tried to look Garth up on iTunes and are wondering what the hell is going on.

There’s a lesson here for you as you go about your own life’s work, creative or otherwise:

When you think you’ve hit your saturation point – that you’ve reached and affected everyone you can possibly reach and affect, and the game is over – remember that Garth Brooks is not on iTunes.

And people still arrive here, every day, wishing that he were.

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  1. andythedrifter says

    I love these kinds of posts. Very thoughtful (and entertaining) post, CM.

    One thing I’ve never understood is how Garth won’t allow his music to be released on iTunes because he doesn’t want people cherry picking, yet has no problem releasing compilations like “The Ultimate Hits.” Unless I’m missing something, that seems awfully inconsistent.

    • says

      Good one, CM!

      I’m a Garth fan and even apologist, I suppose, but I don’t really get his refusal to go digital at this point.

      I’ve heard him answer your question by saying that he even painstakingly makes an effort to sequence his Greatest Hits packages as well. /To a point, I can understand that, because I used to do the same thing when making mixed tapes/CDS. I do find that I’m much more into putting my iTunes or iPod on shuffle now though.

  2. mrsandydog says

    Seems pretty clear he’s just holding out for the biggest payday possible. Like the farmer who won’t sell his remaining parcel of land despite being surrounded by malls and tract housing.

    The “don’t want people to cherry pick” argument makes no sense. There are plenty of albums on iTunes — most notably soundtrack records featuring acts from multiple labels — where you have to buy the whole record, not individual songs.

    Everyone always says he’s a savvy businessman, so maybe he will be able to squeeze a few extra shekels out of iTunes and Amazon at some point. I wonder, though, if he’s waited too long. Do folks who make up the bulk of the music-buying audience even know who Garth Brooks is?

    (BTW, came here not via a Google search, but a link on Engine 145)


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