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.


Take Me To Church: Eric Church

SKULLI fell in love in the backseat of my friend’s truck. That sounds like the line to a horribly cheesy country song, but it’s true. They say you know when that moment of love hits and that moment for me was Sunday, December 4, 2011.

The Denver Broncos were in Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings. 2011, more specifically late 2011, was what will go down in history as ‘Tebow Time’. Tim Tebow was doing the miraculous while being a horribly flawed quarterback. I saw ‘Tebow Time’ in person, but that’s not what I fell in love with.

Young people don’t know what the radio is, so we listened to an iPod through the truck speakers for the whole 90-minute trip to and fro the stadium. Only one artist was played: Eric Church.

I’d known of Eric Church. Hell, I’d seen him in concert as the opening act for Sara Evans, but he never really captivated me. I loved ‘Smoke A Little Smoke’ and I had downloaded ‘Homeboy’ from the iTunes store, but it wasn’t until December 4, 2011, that I realized Eric Church was, well, a badass.

This guy captivated me the way only a couple other artists have. Eric Church captivated me so much that the next time I was at Best Buy, full disclosure I forced myself into a trip, I bought all three albums that Church had released to date.

I was sold.

‘Chief’, the most commercially successful album for Church thus far, was unlike any ‘country’ album I had ever heard. I say ‘country’ because Church has been quoted as saying that genres are an outdated concept. The earlier two albums weren’t as groundbreaking, but it was beyond solid typical country music.

The aviators that I wore turned from being in honor of my family’s obsession with Tom Cruise and ‘Top Gun’ to being because I wanted to be Eric Church. I wanted to be that guy that was on the album cover of ‘Chief’ and wore his glasses onstage.

I finally got to see the guy I wanted to be onstage again.

It was a ‘freakin’ Tuesday in Minneapolis’ and the Target Center was packed to the rafters. Internet connectivity was sketchy with 19,000 people and, I’d assume, 19,000 or so internet cable devices trying to SnapChat their friends. A problem I assume the Timberwolves never face.

Church ran through a blistering 23 songs with only two breaks, one of those breaks was hidden behind a video montage of the prelude to ‘Devil, Devil’ which is featured on his latest album ‘The Outsiders’.

The concert was heavy on ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Chief’, but touched on all four of Church’s studio albums. Including his second single, ‘Two Pink Lines’ which was selected by a list Church gave a fan before the show and Church and his band didn’t know what they would be playing until ten seconds they were playing it.

Church laughed through the song, especially after forgetting the words to the second verse of the song that reached number 19 on the charts just eight short years ago.

The concert was insanely rocking, especially for what Church pointed out was a Tuesday. The energy, the all-encompassing stage, the attention of the crowd was always on Church and he gave a hell of a show off of that energy.

There’s a million things a guy that is a little biased towards Eric Church could say about the concert. He did the essential hits, he did the true fans’ favorite album cuts, he tied in ‘Born to Run’ in his breakout smash spectacular ‘Springsteen’.

A million memorable moments, but there is something insanely fun about one of your favorite artists having the same admiration you do for another one your favorite artists.

No one was singing ‘Born to Run’ louder than me and Eric Church in that moment.

I couldn’t put my finger on why I loved Eric Church so much until after the concert. I love reading the reviews of the concerts that I have just been to just so I can see how incredibly biased I am compared to the fellows that get paid to review concerts.

Both the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune gave the show a thumbs-up. Both noted that the show was not the typical country concert because Eric Church is not the typical country act. Both papers compared Eric Church to other artists and that’s when it hit me.

Both Ross Raihala of the Pioneer Press, a must-follow on Twitter, and Jon Bream of the Star Tribune compared Church to Bruce Springsteen. Church will always be tied to the Boss since Church’s biggest single, he’ll probably never top it, shares the Boss’ last name. Bream also threw in Garth Brooks.

It clicked.

Eric Church is a beautiful combination of Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks.

Musically, Church is the country equivalent of Springsteen. Springsteen had remarkable commercial success with ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ and has had mild chart success around that, but nothing ever meeting that level again. Church had ‘Chief’ and that will be his penultimate commercial success. It brought out a lot of great radio hits while being a great piece of music, but he’s going to, and intentionally, stay directly out of the spotlight.

Church has said that’s why ‘The Outsiders’ is such an out of left field concept to some country music consumers. It’s real music, but it doesn’t need to be radio popular to be popular. Springsteen has built a career out of that and so will Church.

One of the best songs on ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Cold One’ only got to number 20 on the charts. ‘Cold One’ is remarkable well written and performed, but is not yet accepted, and might never be, by the bro-country loving radio listeners.

Church will continually sell out Target Centers and Xcel Energy Centers for a string of years and get modest airplay. Church is set music wise.

Garth Brooks comes in on the performance aspect. Church had his audience captivated the whole time he was on stage on Tuesday night. No one ever sat down. I’ve only seen Springsteen once, so take this with a grain of salt, but there was a time when everyone sat down.

Springsteen is a great performer and shows emotion onstage, but both Brooks and Church shove their emotions in your face, but in a very nice way. Garth and Church both continually are laughing onstage, not because something is funny, but they are both so happy they can’t help put laughing through the ear-to-ear smiles.

They scream. There’s so much emotion in their shows that both Church and Brooks at times will lean back and just scream. If you saw someone do this on the street, you’d be freaked out, but onstage it seems normal. Beyond normal.

Church’s music is deeper than anything on the radio, much like Springsteen. Brooks’ most commercial singles have never been insanely deep, but his show, just on DVD, is incredible.

I don’t know if I saw a rock show, a country concert or if I saw a disciple of that ‘Country Music Jesus’ Church sings about, but I finally know why he’s so captivating.

Church has taken the two best qualities of two of the best artists of all-time and is pulling himself up onto that pedestal with them.

December 4, 2011, was a big day for me. I saw my two favorite NFL teams face off with my friends, I had my first taste of the God-send that is Chipotle and I caught the lifelong earworm that is Eric Church.

I don’t know how to describe September 16, 2014. Eric Church said he’d expected we’d all have a ‘religious experience’ on Tuesday night. If that was ‘religious’, I’m going to be in the front pew of Church until the world burns down.

Welcome Back, My Favorite, Garth Brooks


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.

Power Ranking the Potential Acts at TCF Bank Stadium for July 2014

A view of the football field at TCF Bank Stadium during Gopher football.
A view of the football field at TCF Bank Stadium during Gopher football.

As a music geek, I love a good drum line. I find it pretty cool for a bunch of people with one type of instrument to make a whole song sound full. I’ll never love drumming more than I do than the fact that Drum Corps International has to move their annual date for their competition at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Why? Per a press release, Drum Corps International was knocked off for ‘a major concert’.

This major concert will correlate with the MLB All-Star Game that will be occurring at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis this summer. A concert is fun and all, but the Star Tribune’s list of potential semi-educated guesses is what makes it fun.

The Strib points to Prince, Garth Brooks, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Kenny Chesney as the potential headliners at the second major concert to happen at The Bank.

I’m going to power rank who I want it to be and you won’t be surprised, but the thought of one out of 50% of this group happening is amazing.

6. Pearl Jam – I’m not a Pearl Jam guy. I haven’t listened to a lot of Pearl Jam. There is no Pearl Jam in my music library. Sorry, Pearl Jam.

5. Kenny Chesney – Kenny is extremely popular in the country music world, I know because I live there. Kenny has been to Minnesota two years in a row at Target Field, he doesn’t need to come again. Plus, currently Chesney has no tour plans for this summer making him a so-so candidate in the first place. If Kenny has a fantastic opening act, I’ll go. I like Kenny just not enough to break the bank.

4. Prince – The Strib pointed out that Prince hasn’t done a major show in Minnesota in a long time and it would be cool if he was the guy. I don’t know if I would pay super bucks to see Prince, but it’s a for sure sellout. Prince puts on a hell of a show apparently, too.

3. Bruce Springsteen – You know it’s a good list when I put Springsteen at number three. I love Bruce and if it’s Bruce, Lord knows that I’ll put a lot of good money down to see him again. Bruce is the live king and he’ll be on tour in America later this summer. This might make the most sense on an already on-tour basis. The Boss and the E Street Band just slip because of who else is on the list.

2. Paul McCartney – Sir Paul is one of the performers on my bucket list and, to paraphrase something Springsteen said in a recent interview, you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. McCartney isn’t going to be around forever, no less touring forever, and I want to see him before one of us leaves the game. The ex-Beatle is still figuring out 2014 tour plans, so this would be a good thing to start the setting of his plans.

1. Garth Brooks – I’ve been a Garth Brooks fan my whole life. I’m young enough though that by the time I was of concert going age that Garth Brooks had taken his hiatus to spend time with his girls in Oklahoma. I’m ready to see Garth. It’s one thing I’ve been looking forward to in my music loving career since I can remember, the problem is that this probably won’t be the venue. Garth will come to town, I’m 110% positive of that, but this is before his big she-bang in Ireland. The Strib points out this would be a good tune-up, but when Garth does something, he does it big. Other than maybe a couple more Vegas dates, I’d expect Garth to fire it up in Ireland and keep it trucking until the big rig runs out of fuel. I hope I’m wrong.

Update: The following from the Pioneer Press’ Charley Walters:

Contrary to rumors elsewhere, Bruce Springsteen will not be the concert’s performer. Neither will be Garth Brooks. Baseball is still considering concert performers. The show is expected to include multiple acts.

If it truly is going to be multiple acts, that means there’ll be little to no big names. Have fun with that lovers of mediocre bands.

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.