A while back, I blogged about the fact that Youtube is setting itself up as a competitor to Spotify by putting out artists’ digital music, including both new releases and back catalogues. Reader and musician Kyle Boreing noted that technically, since these videos are ad-supported, artists are supposed to receive some revenue. Well, if the kind of revenue they get from Spotify is any indication, that’s probably small comfort. And it probably means streaming platforms like Spotify aren’t economically sustainable at all in the long run.
But of all the digital-resistant artists I’ve found, nobody beats Garth Brooks. Not only is Brooks anti-Spotify, he’s anti iTunes AND Amazon Mp3 AND Youtube. In fact, in his words, Youtube is “the devil.”
Brooks is more than happy to elaborate on his decision in this article, among others. It’s not that he’s hurting for cash. For him, it isn’t about money. It’s the principle of the thing.
He argues passionately for preserving the album experience instead of giving younger generations with short attention spans the option of cherry-picking isolated tracks. However, Brooks realizes that as physical albums go the way of the dodo, it will become progressively more difficult for people to hear his work at all. So he’s decided to set up his own thing: an iTunes alternative site called GhostTunes. And just to prove that it’s not about money, Brooks offers fans a special deal if they buy his music through the off-beat outlet. For only $30, they can pick up his latest studio release, a two-disc 25th anniversary live project, and his entire back catalogue. That’s ten albums’ worth of music. Not a shabby deal.
That’s a perspective I can certainly respect, even if I don’t fully agree with the extremity of his anti-digital stance. Brooks has recorded some great songs, and I’m just concerned that they’ll fall out of memory. I can understand staying away from Spotify. I do think it’s a bit of a shame that he’s not on iTunes. While I understand his lament for the album experience, there’s a reason why we still remember some songs and have long forgotten others. That reason is that the songs we remember are (usually) the best ones. An artist may be miffed that a listener isn’t getting the “album experience,” but what if a third of the songs on a given project are duds? Fans understandably don’t want to have to pay for those just to have the hits they love. Moreover, Garth doesn’t even have an officially controlled channel on Youtube where he can upload a few hits, a few music videos, a few live performances–at least something original and legit that people can find when they type in his name.
I’ve also found a few Garth songs on Youtube (originals, not covers), which have temporarily managed to escape the notice of the copyright police. Odds are I’ll have to circle back and remove these links in a few more months once somebody discovers them, but in the meanwhile, enjoy three of my personal favorites. (Oh, I should also mention that the official music video for “Thunder Rolls” was somehow acquired and uploaded by somebody or other, but I’m not featuring it because it’s frankly not worthy of the song. Turning the story into something that looks like a cheap 80s movie, complete with painful dialogue, kind of sucks all the intensity out of it.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY07-DCQ4EI?rel=0&w=500&h=315 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4uhLf1uTLY?rel=0&w=500&h=315 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKUi9uIUQSM?rel=0&w=500&h=315