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Garth Brooks Embraces Digital Music and Unveils Online Store

First published on http://www.nytimes.com


Garth Brooks has finally gone digital, with an iTunes rival of his own.

Mr. Brooks, the country superstar, has been one of the last big holdouts to digital music. But on Thursday, making good on a promise he made months ago, Mr. Brooks unveiled an online store, GhostTunes, and offered his complete catalog of music for the “crazy low price” of $30.

Apple’s iTunes store opened in 2003, but over the years, Mr. Brooks, along with a handful of other stars like AC/DC and Kid Rock, objected to Apple’s demand that songs be sold individually, rather than only as part of albums — a configuration that many musicians say is truer to their artistic intentions, but also one that is much more lucrative.

Kid Rock and AC/DC eventually acquiesced, however. So did Metallica, Led Zeppelin and even the Beats. But Mr. Brooks, 52, who has sold 134 million albums in the United States — only the Beatles and Elvis Presley have sold more, according to the Recording Industry Association of America — held out until coming up with his own solution.

“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,” Mr. Brooks said in a statement. GhostTunes, he said, “is a site that treats music with the utmost respect, where our job every day is to offer music the way the artists want to share it to the listeners who live for it and love it.”

As the last big digital holdouts have made their music available for download, however, consumers are shifting their habits once again, this time toward online streaming services like Spotify. Last year, download sales fell for the first time, while streaming was up by 32 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Led Zeppelin has made its music available on Spotify, but many of the former download holdouts — like the Beatles and AC/DC — have not.


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