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Country star makes his complete recordings available digitally for the first time and signs up releases from all the major labels
Garth Brooks returns: his first concert in 14 years
Garth Brooks has opened his own digital music store. GhostTunes posits itself as an artist-focused rival to iTunes and Amazon, showcasing Brooks’ complete catalogue and more than a million songs from many of the world’s biggest acts.
“When I decided it was time to ‘go digital’ I didn’t find an existing way that really fit how I wanted to do it,” Brooks said yesterday. The 52-year-old country singer had been one of the biggest holdouts to digital sales: despite selling more than 190m records worldwide, none of his albums are available in the iTunes Music Store. “I shared my dream with some amazing minds and together [we] have created … ghosttunes.com. This is a site that treats music with the utmost respect, where our job everyday is to offer music the way the artists want to share it to the listeners who live for and love it. That’s a job I hope I can do everyday.”
At launch, GhostTunes offers releases from all three major labels, showcasing albums such as Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, Ariana Grande’s My Everything, and Royal Blood’s self-titled debut. But the crown jewels are Brooks’ own catalogue: for $29.99 (£18.35), fans obtain a bundle containing his eight previous albums, a live double-CD, concert film, and two new, unreleased LPs. The first, which incorporates Brooks’ latest single, will be released on 28 November; another full-length is to follow in 2015. “Music history is about to change,” Brooks told Good Morning America on Thursday.
For now, details of GhostTunes are scarce. The website does not list corporate information, music file specifications, or material on international restrictions. According to a press release, the company’s CEO is Randy Bernard, a former boss at the Indycar racing league and Professional Bull Riders. The main innovation seems to be GhostTunes’ flexibility: unlike the biggest existing platforms, artists can easily create bundles to “sell their music any way they dream”. Once purchased, music is instantly available for download or streaming to users’ devices.
As well as Brooks’ long digital sales boycott, the singer has also ended his 13-year hiatus from touring. He performed on Thursday night at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, the first date on an 17-date comeback tour. Although his only currently scheduled gigs will take place in the United States, Brooks has announced plans for a world tour. Earlier this summer, he cancelled a series of concerts in Dublin after officials denied his request for five consecutive evening shows.
Garth Brooks’ most recent studio album, Scarecrow, was released in 2001.