Garth Brooks Becomes Worldís Richest Wal-Mart Employee

Published: 2005-08-22
Country music superstar Garth Brooks has announced an exclusive licensing deal with Wal-Mart that will see the US retail behemoth become the only place where Brooks' fans can buy any of his albums. The multi-year deal marks the first time in music history that an artist's entire catalogue has been available exclusively through a single retail chain.

For now, the pact covers only Brooks' existing catalogue due to the singer's vow upon the release of his last album, 2001's double-platinum Scarecrow, that he would retire from touring and recording at least until his youngest daughter graduates from high school in 2015.

The chain plans to release a multi-disc box set of unreleased Brooks music this fall for the low, low price of $25 US. Wal-Mart (as well as its affiliated Sam's Club stores) will reportedly sell more than 300,000 albums per year from Brooks' 15-album catalogue.

Artists and major corporations have struck similar deals in recent years, though they have generally been limited-time-only promotions, and all to promote a single release. Entertainment retailer Best Buy, for example, has exclusively carried DVD box sets by the Rolling Stones and Elton John, while coffee giant Starbucks has been the sole retailer of recent discs by Alanis Morissette and Bob Dylan.

It's a growing trend in the music business, though Brooks' deal will be hard to duplicate because, unlike most artists, Brooks owns all of his own master recordings and so is free to license them as he pleases. His previous deal with Capitol Nashville/EMI was dissolved by mutual consent in June, meaning the record the company can no longer manufacture or sell Garth Brooks CDs.

Rumours of the Brooks-Wal-Mart union began in June when the singer performed at a Wal-Mart shareholders meeting and mysteriously proclaimed, "It's great to work for Wal-Mart!" Asian sweatshop workers were unavailable for comment.

Writer: Neil McDonald



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