The King of Country and the King of Marketing: Garth Brooks

Nothing is by accident for Garth Brooks. Every single move is planned and thought through before the general public even has an inkling of what the third-highest record selling artist of all-time has up his sleeve.

A quick basic background on Garth: he retired in the early 2000’s to raise his girls while they went through elementary and high school and vowed to return after his last child went off to college. His last child has left for college and Garth is out of retirement with a full-fledged world tour and new album. The man who dominated and revolutionized country music, and music as a whole, in the 1990’s has returned to his loving fans. Garth paved the way for country artists like Taylor Swift to convert over to the pop scene. Don’t hold that against him.

Garth is the king of marketing. It’s the subject that he majored in at Oklahoma State University and it shows in everything that he does in the public eye. If you see Garth across any newsfeed it’s because he wanted to be there in that exact moment.

Let’s start with the latest example: Garth Brooks goes social.

For years and years, Garth has avoided social media like it was the black plague. He didn’t touch it. The closest thing you could find to a legitimate Garth source on Twitter was his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood, or the account for his charity, Teammates for Kids. That’s all you could find. There was no official Garth Facebook page either. There was the awkward shell of one that Facebook pulled together from the Wikipedia listing of the country icon, but that’s all that could be found. That changed on Tuesday when Garth went social.

If you follow anything country, or really anything celebrity related, you got a message on Tuesday that announced the arrival of Garth across three social networks: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Garth already has over a million likes on Facebook and over 73,000 Twitter followers.

What was significant about Tuesday? It was also the release day of his first studio album in thirteen years. Garth bankrolled the press he would get for his Man Against Machine album and added to it the storm that he would get for joining social media. It’s a big story that the guy who isn’t on iTunes or Spotify joined the likes of the public in sometimes useless banter. Two big Garth stories on one day means about double the stories that are written about him. Garth knows all too well that he needs a lot of frequency. The more you see his name, the more likely you are to buy his album or buy anything from him.

The best thing is that Garth knows how to market this in a way that a lot of people won’t question it. In the first post on his new Facebook page Garth said that a friend told him to look at social media as a conversation directly between the artist and his followers. That might be a legitimate reason why Garth ‘changed’ his view on social media, but there’s no way that that friend told him the morning of his new album release and Garth somehow got meetings at Facebook and Twitter headquarters. Garth had this planned for a while. It might’ve been for a long time. Who knows? Well, more people than we probably think.

Brian Mansfield, music critic for USA Today, tweeted that Garth has had his current world tour planned out for years according to the infamous not named Nashville insiders. Maybe, just the skeleton of it, but Garth knows how to put together a body better than most. We don’t need to look far to see the evidence of this, in fact we just need to look at Garth’s tour stop in downtown Minneapolis at Target Center.

While Garth has been the home team for Target Center in November, it really is supposed to be the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home team. That hasn’t been true. The last home game the Timberwolves played at Target Center was on November 1. They won’t play their next home game at Target Center until November 19. That’s an unheard of stretch of days away from home for an NBA team. The funny thing is that the NBA schedule came out before Garth announced that he would be coming to Target Center. The NBA and Target Center just happened to schedule an awkwardly long road stretch for the Wolves? I don’t buy it.

Speaking of buying, Garth knew exactly how many tickets he’d be selling in Minnesota, or at least close to the number. I am convinced he knew he’d sell out more than four shows, the initial amount he offered. Garth knew that he was going to break his ticket record in Minneapolis like he did the last time he was in town. The headline looks a lot cooler for Garth if it says he added six, SIX, shows and sells out 11 compared to just selling out four shows.

I helped sell out those shows. I bought that album, twice. Yes, I bought the album twice: one physical copy and one digitally. It was the first album Garth has released digitally. He did it through a new online store he helped find called Ghosttunes because, well, more headlines. Oh, the physical copy? I wanted to be able to hold it in my hand, which is just me, but I also bought the ‘Limited Black Edition’ for four dollars more at Target. What’s special about the special ‘Limited Black Edition’? The color. Seriously, just the fact that the album cover has more black to it was enough for me, and thousands or millions more, to buy the same exact album for four dollars more.

Is it clear yet that Garth knows how to market? He knows how to market so well that I decided I should write about it for a Intro To Marketing Communications class required blog. Garth has marketed so well that the man has officially infiltrated my school work. That’s just the way the thunder rolls.

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Welcome Back, My Favorite, Garth Brooks

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Growing up I had two songs that I vividly remember loving and blasting out of our stereo. Naturally, one came from my dad’s favorite musical act and the other came from my mom’s. One was ‘If You’re Gonna Play In Texas (You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band)’ by Alabama, the other one was ‘Friends In Low Places’ by a man named Garth Brooks. I chose one of these two to be my favorite musical act and that artist fully came out of a halftime retirement today.

Garth Brooks is the reason that I love country music and more than likely the reason I love music as a whole. Everyone has, or at least I hope they do, an artist that they can connect to on some weird high level. I feel I’ve had that with multiple artists, but never for so long and as profound as Garth Brooks.

Music always connects itself with a memory. When you hear a certain song you are instantly zapped right back to the date and time when something major went down while that song was in the background. I have those same feelings with Garth Brooks albums. Not just singles, but when I think about a whole damn collection I am brought back in time.

Double Live? Dear Lord, I remember my mom picking me up from daycare and presenting to me a two-CD set of Garth Brooks music. I remember being fascinated by the multiple covers Garth had and that the one that mom picked up had the flags of all the nations Garth had visited on his world tour. I thought that was so cool.

Scarecrow?  New albums usually drop on a Tuesday and back then Mom still bowled on Tuesday nights, I was in bed already by the time she got home so I woke up early the next morning to listen to Garth’s latest endeavor while eating breakfast. The first line in the album is ‘I can hear the highway calling…’ which sure sounds a lot like ‘I can hear the highway, Collin…’ which was pretty awesome to a 13-year-old.

Skipping ahead to his latest release of Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences, I went to work early that day so I could swing through Wal-Mart so I could play songs from it on the radio that afternoon. I kept the receipt in my wallet for months because I was still shocked how cheap the thing was.

I could go on and on about Garth, because I’m really just happy to have him back. I loved Garth ever since I can remember, but I’ll admit that I didn’t always claim him as my favorite artist. It was weird too. It’s hard to explain to people that your favorite artist is going to come back, but not for ten years or so. I had love affairs with The Beatles and Eric Church and Bruce Springsteen and I love them all still very much, but the man, my man, is back.

It’s expected In November that Garth will release his first new material that ships to every store since 2001’s Scarecrow and I’ll be there to get it. I counted down the days until Eric Church’s The Outsiders, I got Springsteen’s High Hopes the day it came out, but I hope I can get some sleep between now and November. Garth can’t come fast enough.

Welcome back, Garth Brooks AKA my favorite artist.

New Details Emerge on Garth Brooks Comeback Tour

On Monday, we learned a little bit more about the up and coming Garth Brooks World Tour. In an email to his ‘Circle of Friends’ newsletter, it was announced that Garth will be heading to Ireland and Crooke Park on July 25 and 26 as the big symbolic kickoff event. The event in Dublin will be called ‘The Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event’.

GarthThe most interesting note that I found in the email/press release is the following quote from Garth, “Before we go back on tour in the Fall of 2014, I want to challenge myself, the band, and crew. In ’97, we were lucky enough to play Croke Park, the stadium was under construction. 130,000+ of some of the greatest fans in the world. I was quoted then as saying ‘When this stadium is finished, I would love to come back and try to fill it again…this time to the brink.’…and we’re back to do just that.”

The part that is most interesting to State-bound Garth fans is that the comeback tour will begin in the fall of 2014. I do not believe we have had a hint at when the tour was to begin, but now we know it’s going to be ‘Fall 2014’ and sometime after July 25 and 26.

It’s fun for Garth to kick it off back in Ireland, where he taped one of his awesome concert specials. On the marketing front, an insanely smart move by the marketing major from Oklahoma State University for a couple reasons; first, Ireland and the UK loves Garth Brooks, he’ll sell out that show in minutes with both UKers and fans from around the world. Second, starting his tour over in Ireland makes headlines and makes him even more wanted by US audiences. Seeing Garth perform in Ireland will only make his fans want to see him more in the US knowing it is jut mere weeks away. I wouldn’t be surprised if tickets for the rest of his tour go on sale on about July 27, with Dublin and Crooke Park majesty still burned in fans’ minds.

Track-by-Track Power Ranking: ‘Garth Brooks’ (1989 Album)

An artist saying that they can’t pick their favorite song of theirs because it would be like picking their favorite child is a pretty commonplace sound bite. It works that way too for the fans of artists, at least right after they announce a world tour.

On Monday morning’s “Good Morning America”, Garth Brooks spilled the beans to long-time friend Robin Roberts that he would be embarking on a World Tour in 2014. Later in the week, Brooks stated on “The Talk” that this tour would probably a three-year endeavor.

It’s hard to try and pick your favorite songs especially of your favorite artist because, in all honesty, they all sound like gold to you, but I’m going to try to do it. An album-by-album track power ranking of all of the songs Garth Brooks has ever released.

Starting from his 1989 self-titled debut to the newly minted Blame It All On My Roots: Fifty Years of Influences box set, so without further a do… The ‘Garth Brooks’ Power Rankings.

10. I’ve Got A Good Thing Going – It’s a little too slow and a little sad, but not the right enough amount of sad and slow. Great cut on most artists’ albums, but it doesn’t quite meet the standard that I set for Garth Brooks material. Don’t worry, he’s got a good thing going, though.

9. Alabama Clay – A country song should tell a story and it does just that. Boy grows up on the farm, moves to the city, moves back to the farm for the love of his life and to raise his family. Little too convenient.

8. I Know One – I really love this song. A fool always being around for a girl is a song that I’m always going to cherish. Kind of a sad little two-step number. Feel depressed, put this little ditty on.

7. Not Counting You – The leadoff single, the only track on the album solely written by Brooks and it made it to number two on the U.S. country charts. It’s a high-energy song to start off the album, there’s just too much good stuff to get it any higher.

6. Nobody Gets Off In This Town –  This song maybe ranked higher than it should be for my own sentimental reasons. I remember listening to this song on vacation in Hibbing, Minnesota at the Greyhound Bus Museum. It’s featured in the museum due to the line, “the greyhound stops and somebody gets on, but nobody gets off in this town”. That moment in that trip to Hibbing has always stuck with me and has made ‘Nobody’ one of my favorite Garth tunes.

5. Cowboy Bill – If a country song is supposed to tell a story, ‘Cowboy Bill’ hits that out of the park. It’s a greatly written story about an ex-cop named Cowboy Bill. All the kids in town become friends with Bill, but none of the grownups believe the stories he tells of being a sheriff… until Bill can’t tell his story anymore.

4. Everytime That It Rains – Kenny Chesney was the one that sang ‘Something Sexy About The Rain’, but Garth beat him to the punch in 1989 with this song. The song looks back at a one-night stand at a roadside café in the middle of a torrential downpour. The listener can hear the rain and is instantly there in the scene.

3. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) – Garth Brooks’ first single release was this song and it peaked at number eight on the charts. The song is a classic if not just for the Chris LeDoux shout out in the third verse. It’s a rodeo heartbreak song with a beautiful fiddle solo to start. The same fiddle player George Strait had on his first single ‘Unwound’.

2. If Tomorrow Never Comes – One of the best love songs in the history of country music usually takes second fiddle to the other one on this album, but I firmly believe that ‘Tomorrow’ is on equal footing. It’s beautifully written and unlike ‘The Dance’ it is co-penned by Brooks. ‘Tomorrow’ was Brooks’ first number one hit and features one of the best lines to ever be written: ‘So tell that someone that you love, just what you’re thinking of, if tomorrow never comes.’

1. The Dance – Did you expect any different? It’s highly regarded as the best song Garth Brooks has ever recorded which is probably true.  Of course, ‘The Dance’ made it number one as well. Even non-country music fans know about this beautiful song. I leave you with the best verse from the best song on ‘Garth Brooks’:

Holding you I held everything / For a moment wasn’t I the king / If I’d only known how the king would fall / Hey, who’s to say – you know I might have changed it all.