Garth Brooks Headed to Sony? (A Press Conference Primer)
UPDATE: Last ditch effort to save Garth’s Ireland shows is underway. Read more in update at bottom.
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The country music world is titillated with anticipation at what Garth Brooks might be announcing at his upcoming press conference on Thursday, July 10th, scheduled to stream live on his website at noon eastern. But the cat may already be out of the bag. Yesterday Garth put to bed any speculation about if his five stadium shows in Ireland would be happening or not by canceling all five shows, and so the two remaining orders of business are the announcement of a world tour (which he’s already said there will be), and if there is new music on the way.
Over the last few days there has been industry chatter that Garth may be announcing a deal with Sony Nashville, and as it happens, the label and music publisher has announced their own press conference and luncheon tomorrow … at the same exact time as Garth’s. Coincidence? Not likely, though nothing has yet to be confirmed, and the extent and specifics of any deal are still left up for speculation.
Upon Garth’s retirement, the singer became a free agent after resolving his contract with Capitol Records, and the rights to all of his songs reverted back to him. This makes Garth an ideal candidate to set up shop wherever he wants, and as the best-selling artist in the history of country music, it’s only natural he would have his pick of suitors.
Though Sony may be Garth’s eventual destination, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey floated Garth’s name out there in late May as a potential signee to Big Machine’s new NASH Icons label meant to give support to older artists just like Garth. Dickey said he expected announcements on roster additions “in the next 30 days,” but so far none have materialized.
READ: What Todd Snider Really Thinks About Garth Brooks
Very likely the specifics of a world tour will at least be part of the Garth Brooks announcement, but he already announced there will in fact be a world tour on Good Morning America in early December of 2013. “You know what, since it’s you and since we’ve had a history forever, let’s announce it. We’re going on a world tour in 2014,” Garth told Robin Roberts. “I can’t believe I just did that but you are a doll.”
Whatever Garth announces it undoubtedly will have reverberations throughout the country music world. And as mainstream country radio continues to abandon artists from Garth’s era, his actions could have sweeping effects on how older country artists currently being shoved aside will be handled.
Update on the Garth Brooks Ireland Shows
***UPDATE (7-9-14 4:00 PM CDT): According to new reports, the Garth Brooks Ireland shows may not be called off after all. In a letter to Peter Aiken, the local promoter of the Ireland Shows, Garth Brooks says,
I was informed yesterday that the shows are cancelled and the refunds will begin on Monday. I cannot being to tell you how badly my heart is breaking right now. I hope you understand that to play for 400,000 would be a dream, but to tell 160,000 of those people they are not welcome would be a nightmare. To do what the city manager suggests (play three shows and not all five) means I agree that’s how people should be treated and I just can’t agree with that.
Our guys are still en route and if there is any chance that the five planned concerts can be salvaged, and nobody is being let down then we can proceed as planned until the refunds begin. If you tell me, “Garth, thanks but it’s over.” I will cease my efforts and bring our people and gear back to the States. If you think that for any reason that the “powers that be” in Ireland can fix this, then I will faithfully go to the last second.
Please let me know how to proceed.
All my gratitude, respect, and love to you and Ireland, g
The letter comes as news of the canceled shows has created nothing short of a crisis in Ireland. The Taoiseach, or Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny has become personally involved in the matter, and has organized a meeting between Dublin’s Lord Mayor Christy Burke and the City Manager Owen Keegan, in an effort to bring about a positive outcome to the controversy.
A spokesperson for Enda Kenny said, “In light of the letter from Garth Brooks today – if there was an opportunity to facilitate a positive outcome, the government would certainly consider it.”
Ireland and the local Dublin area stand to lose millions if the shows are ultimately canceled, while 18 semi trucks with Garth’s stage gear sit on a ship still steaming toward Ireland through the Atlantic Ocean.
Refunds for the five shows are still being organized by Ticketmaster, and have yet to be handed out for the five consecutive shows at Croke Park starting July 25th.
July 9, 2014 @ 11:30 am
Love it. Hopefully he announces new music and maybe a new single coming out. I can’t even begin to imagine how much I am going to have to pay to see him in concert coming up, but it will be worth it.
July 9, 2014 @ 9:19 pm
I’m with you. My husband and I both have that one huge artist we’ve said we’re willing to go to the ends of the earth (and savings account) to see. His is Metallica, mine is Garth…but as this announcement gets closer, I worry I won’t be able to make it happen! Hopefully there’s some system in place to at least try to make tickets affordable. I have heard Garth is not a fan of high ticket prices/reselling.
July 9, 2014 @ 11:57 am
Why does Garth even need a label? Label deals are predicated on them having money, and the artist not having it… an Artist Garth’s size really doesn’t need one, I wouldn’t think. I mean, I can understand the thought that Sony has its own distribution channels and marketing departments, etc … but I just don’t see that being a need for Garth.
I had the fortune of seeing him in Vegas three times… and each time the house was packed…much like it had been for 5 years. He can sell out venues in minutes. There isn’t a country radio station that wouldn’t love to play a new single from him.
Why a label? Trigger – help me out here, man.
July 9, 2014 @ 1:14 pm
Garth is so big, he can sign to a label on his own terms. The fact that he was able to get the rights to all of his songs reverted back to him when he retired speaks to how lucrative a deal he had, and how savvy he is. Most musicians are terrible business people and great artists. Garth is just a good artist, and an excellent businessman. By have a label handle all the distribution, licensing, publishing, etc. etc. keeps it out of Garth’s hair so he can focus on his music and concerts, and he’s big enough I’m sure he can ask for the most favorable margins in the business.
Also, we really have no idea what the Sony relationship here is. It could only be distribution, only publishing, or it could be the entire package.
As an aside,if I was Garth Brooks, I would release my music to iTunes ASAP. All of it. This is his last chance to make any money off of download sales, because in 6 months it will all be streaming. It’s now or never for Garth. But as we saw in Ireland, he’s willing to eat millions just to prove you don’t screw with him.
July 9, 2014 @ 1:52 pm
Ireland may still happen. Refunds aren’t scheduled to go out until Monday. The court filing has been dropped by the residents and emergency meetings are going on tonight.
July 9, 2014 @ 2:49 pm
The only thing we know for certain is that Garth Brooks always gets his way.
Now all of a sudden he’s not the one scrambling, the local officials are.
July 9, 2014 @ 2:16 pm
I don’t know that we go “Full streaming” until data plans get cheaper for cellular. Until then, a good many of us will prefer having the purchased downloads on our phone as opposed to full-time streaming music on a handheld.
July 9, 2014 @ 9:29 pm
I agree! This is not super-relevant to this thread…but maybe for people with unlimited data plans (not me), full-on streaming makes sense. I can see things heading that way eventually, but for now, I stream stuff when I’m at home, on my connection, but if I want to take something to the gym, listen to it in the car, etc., I buy it. Most people I know do the same, for now. I also buy the music I believe in supporting, just because… but as has been discussed on this site, many people aren’t doing that anymore.
July 9, 2014 @ 10:53 pm
The reason YouTube is getting into streaming is the same reason T-Mobile partnered with Beats. In mere months, music streaming will be bundled with all cell phones, all makes and models, and all providers. Music will simply be part of the incentive package to purchase a phone or plan, and it won’t cost against data, and won;t even cost the consumer money. As I’ve been saying, we are spiraling towards the free model of music, and at some point soon, artists and labels will have to pay customers to have their music served on these networks.
July 9, 2014 @ 9:02 pm
How is it that Garth retained the rights to his music? The same thing happened with MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e when their contract with Elektra expired in the late ’90s. And they, like Garth, went on to reissue their albums quite a few times. But I don’t understand why a label would relinquish the right to rerelease that music themselves and make more money. No matter what they might be getting offered in the wake of the deal, it seems like hanging on to the masters of albums that sold millions of copies and stand to sell even more in the future would be more lucrative than a settlement sum.
July 9, 2014 @ 10:54 pm
Most labels don’t allow that to happen. But if you’re a powerful star, or a marketing major like Garth, you can work that into your deal. There are good deals, and bad deals. Some artists never make a dime off their music. Others like Garth get along just fine.
July 9, 2014 @ 11:02 pm
Yes, most labels don’t allow that to happen, therein lies the processional problem I’m having. Garth signed with Capitol for his debut; you’re telling me that a major record label and business is going to be schooled at their own game by a single man, marketing major or not? It obviously happened, I just don’t get how. Of course, times were different back then and it’s a similar situation with George Lucas maintaining control of his Star Wars empire, but that was a film series that was produced by his own company. Garth was essentially using the resources of Capitol but somehow got to keep his masters? Is it possible that he negotiated them back with his later clout as opposed to it being written from the outset? I know that with MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e Elektra just gave them their masters back because the band and label were in the middle of a recording contract that neither of them wanted to finish so they essentially called it even. I know that it’s rare, but as an outsider it just seems impossible.
July 10, 2014 @ 8:50 am
His original contract ran out and as part of the negotiations with EMI in the late 1990s on a new one he got the rights to all his music.
Leverage is a great, great thing.
Buy Low Sell High
July 10, 2014 @ 8:25 am
“Is it possible that he negotiated them back with his later clout as opposed to it being written from the outset?”
Yes. Obviously, Brooks hired the best lawyers. I’m not in the music business but have renegotiated plenty of deals where the tables turn and power shifts.
July 10, 2014 @ 10:20 am
Garth renegotiated after No Fences; he agreed to pay out of pocket for all production costs in return he got the masters. Bowen figured it would backfire on Garth and boy was he wrong!
July 9, 2014 @ 1:48 pm
I would be surprised if Garth signed a record deal with Sony. With his money and visibility Garth doesn’t need a label. It has become pretty well known among many in the music industry, as well as the writing industry, that a publisher is no longer needed . If the talent already has their name out there and can afford studio time, they will realize a ridiculous pay increase as compared to being singed to a publishing deal. Jason Aldean is still signed to Broken Bow, but uses Capitol for distribution and is most likely pocketing a much larger percentage of sales then he would have if he switches/had switched to a major label. The cost of contracting printing/distributing is shockingly low, even when using a major company.
I don’t think Garth would make too big deal of a deal about singing a contract with a label. And I hope he’s smart enough to realize he could, at the very least, become his own imprint.
July 9, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
July 9, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
Garth owns Pearl Records; I suss the Sony deal will be distribution, marketing and possibly digital content as he has indicated he needs to move in that direction to be in the market. I know from folks that have seen him in OK and TN that he and Trisha have both been in the studio, so I suss new music is on the horizon. Thank goodness, as I can’t listen to any more ‘bro-country’ crap. He told J (my friend) that ‘Blazty, Alger and Williams have all been out to the farm’ and he’s been writing a lot.
July 9, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
‘Blazy’- hit two keys…..
July 9, 2014 @ 9:29 pm
He’s announcing his tour and since sony Apis hosting garth and issued the double disc ultimate hits through Sony Ireland, he’s also gonna partner with Sony Nashville, likely as a president of his own imprint which will house himself, Trisha and maybe a couple others down the line. Sony is hosting this press release.