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Thread: What is the end-game?

  1. #1
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    What is the end-game?

    I know there are some that will probably see this as a bash Garth thread. I am as sincere as can be when I say that is not the case. I am genuinely curious, and at the same time perplexed, at how the first 5 years of the "comeback" has gone.

    As I've stated in the past, I grew up working in radio. From the ages of 15-22 I worked at a pretty large country station. While my friends were spending their weekends going out on dates I spent my weekends programming my own country radio show and reading Billboard and Radio&Records (R&R). I feel like I know a little bit about country music and how things typically work. I even started the process of becoming a music business major before ultimately getting a master's in psych and working in mental health. Anyways, I'm no expert in country music, but I feel like I probably do know a little something.

    There are 2 things that I think are clear about his strategy:

    1 - RIAA certifications are the primary goal. He is definitely trying to become the best selling artist of all-time AND he wants to rack up Diamond (10 million +) albums along the way. I have never seen an artist talk so much about "retail". He talks Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar General, Cracker Barrell, Amazon, etc. His goal is clearly to sell to retail and at times it feels like he is OK with copies being left on the shelf as long as they are "sold" to the retailer. That is also why the cost of these boxes/sets are so cheap.

    #2 - The focus is clearly on the "old stuff"
    When I worked in radio we would laugh because every artist would always say that their new album "is the best thing I've ever done". That was said like a broken record. Garth is the total opposite. It is all about the past, the "legacy", etc. I'm not saying there shouldn't be some emphasis there, but that seems to be the total emphasis.

    I guess the thing I keep wondering is does Garth even care about new music or is he turning into nothing more than a "legacy" act? That term "Legacy act" is used all the time in the music business to signal acts that really aren't focused on new music anymore, but are living on the legacy they created. (Fair question considering he actually named his current project "Legacy"). I mean Garth shelved Triple Live, Fun, The Anthology Series and the Diamond Project (assuming that is something different than Legacy) to get this Legacy set out there. So this set of old music is clearly more important than releasing anything else at this time.

    Garth sends the message that he wants to compete in the modern market. He's even said it on numerous occasions. However, when it comes to newer music and the strategies he uses he doesn't back that up at all. I'm not even going to get into the not being digital (except for Amazon) or the fact that he won't stream (other than Amazon). Sure, this will drive some to purchase his music in physical format, but no one will convince me that this backwards way of doing things isn't more harmful in the long run. Sure, I'm sure he makes more money, moves more units, etc. by doing it this way, but the younger fan who only streams on Spotify or Apple Music is not buying a vinyl box set. They will just go to an artist that is actually available on their service. He's missing the potential of all those people in my opinion which in 2019 is a big deal. Enough has been said on this so I'm not beating that dead horse.

    When Man Against Machine was released it felt like the single choices were totally botched. Although I think there are some good songs on the record I felt like there weren't a lot of good single options. "All-American Kid" to me was the obvious choice for a single and "Tacoma" might have been a good one if he wanted to take a gamble. (It would've been a gamble, but I actually think it could have worked.) Instead he went with "People Loving People" as the lead single. It felt like that song was "too serious" to be the lead single especially in radio at that time. Not only that, the production sounded bad compared to other songs on radio and it just felt kind of cheesy like a second rate "We Shall Be Free". He followed that with "Mom". Again, not saying it is a bad song, but the impression that a lot of people had was that song was really cheesy, and again, just didn't fit on radio. To be clear I'm not saying you have to do what everyone else does to be successful on radio, but you do have to be aware of it. Also, if you are going to release something drastically different it better be stellar. Those songs really weren't.

    Gunslinger was just as perplexing. I think "Baby Let's Lay Down and Dance" was a better lead single choice. It was upbeat and fun, but I just felt it was not a good song. They got the 2nd single right with "Ask Me How I Know". Again, probably the best song to be a single on that record and look what happened. It was a #1 hit!!! I may be in the vast minority, but I stand by my belief that "Whiskey to Wine" could've been a hit on radio. Yes, it was VERY different than what was happening at the time, but it was a stellar song. Not only that, that is around the time that there was a real thirst beginning for more traditional stuff. You had Stapleton going through the roof, Jon Pardi was having success with more traditional stuff and the end of the bro-movement. It felt like the timing would've been right to take that gamble, but they didn't. I still have no idea why they didn't at least attempt a 3rd single of some sort off of Gunslinger. Release it and if it flops it's no big deal, especially if you aren't even going to release a 3rd single anyways.

    Of course, it was widely talked about here that the way the Gunslinger album was handled hurt it in the long run. It got buried in the Ultimate Collection and didn't get it's chance to breath. I think all that is correct.

    Now we have this Legacy release. As I mentioned above, this pushed EVERYTHING to the side. The stand alone Triple Live (assuming we are actually going to get that), Fun, The Anthology, Diamond Series (again if that is something different than Legacy) all got shelved so we can get a box set of all old music. Why? Why move everything to get this out and capitalize on a really small, niche market. As I said in another thread the biggest vinyl album of last year sold less than 50,000 copies. So Garth is release half a million vinyl box sets? I just don't get that and I don't think it is going to sell anywhere close to the number produced. Sure, we will be bombarded with press releases about how many copies of vinyls he has sold. However, that will be literally individual pieces of vinyl. It will sound astronomical, but in the end it will be 1/7 or 1/14th (if they count the CDs) of the number actually purchased.

    My question is where are we going moving forward? If the move is more box sets, more rehashing of old music, just how long can he do that? When does the extremely casual fan actually have enough copies of No Fences, a live album or a greatest hits collection? I feel like if he releases a box set of old music every year eventually that market will be tapped out. Can this sustain itself? I don't know. I guess we will see.

    I personally wish Garth would do what other artists from his generation have done. Focus on making GREAT music. Who cares if it sells like it did in the 90s or garners an RIAA certification. Make music that shows why you were great to begin with. It just feels like a way to grow old gracefully instead of the continual repackaging. Again, I'm not sure what the end-game is other than RIAA certifications and continuing to remind us he made good music in the 90s.

  2. #2
    Very well said!

  3. #3
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    Definitely well said- I would say a lot of it makes sense in continuing Garth's apparent want to be like KISS (in being a legacy act...) except for the RIAA figures- KISS hasn't really cared about that...

    Ryan... well said!
    An objective Garth fan, with my own views...

    I have a purpose
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    My collection of all things Garth....
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  4. #4
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    I agree , very well said. No argument here. :-)

    But I think the problem is the fans. Yes I said the fans. I think we have embraced his Legacy act so much that he feels he has to keep supporting it. We go to the Legacy concerts and pay to hear the old stuff. We buy and support the old stuff instead of the new stuff (good or not) and maybe he is reading the tea leaves and seeing support the old stuff. I mean, if people are going to pack stadiums and arenas to hear Garth play the old stuff, why waste the time on new stuff. If the fans are going to pay for the boxed sets, why put out a new album that will only sell 150,000. Really the man is in the music business. If it was just about the music, he could just do dive bars and sell his albums out the trunk of the car.

    That is why I think he sells the old stuff and works for RIAA certification and Diamond Awards. We buy it, it sells and along the way he attracts the newer fan. The old adage, if it ain't broke, why fix it ( my version). I know he has the potential of losing the fans in the long run but honestly, he is approaching his 60,' and he has enough money to live off us the rest of his life, I just don't see him doing a Rolling Stones or Rddie Money, constantly touring to make money to pay bills. He can do like older artists, play when he wants, maybe never again once he stops touring, country music buyers still support artists from the 70's and other decades despite no touring or new music.

    Music has changed because of technology and just my opinion, for the worst. Streaming is just a lazy way to get music, the artists are auto tuned and the one song here and there doesn't really build up loyalty after a few years.

    I know I am bad because I am a collector and buy anything Garth puts out. But I enjoy collecting and will buy old or new stuff. I will still buy Legacy 2, 3 or 4. I will get all the covers of Triple Live. (You can't have FUN with streaming, no covers to collect). I prefer to reach into my vast music collection and pull out music rather than search through a device to find a song.

    I too worked on my college radio station, I read Billboard for many years and still go to their web site, I collected top 40 radio flyers and listened to Casey Kasem every week to write down the top 40 and make my own list of top songs between the lists. Music changes with each generation, some good and some bad. I tend to be more album focused because I was part of the 70's and 80's. The 60's were great for singles and you can tell by the albums back then. 1 or 2 songs and filler. I feel that today's music is back to that. Call me old.

    But you made some great points and who really knows what goes on in Garth's mind. Is he embracing his 70's and 80's memory of great albums you listened to over and over again. Or should he try to adapt to today's no albums just keep releasing songs and move on over to the digital age. As an old and loyal fan, I'd probably wouldn't hear much of his music if he did that. I don't listen to country radio or for that fact, any music stations. I don't stream or down load music. I buy albums, hear stuff on award shows or if someone sends me a you tube song on Facebook, and if I see an album by someone I have bought there music before and they sang it on a tv show like Kelly or Ellen or it shows up on The Voice or American Idol. Like I said the business has changed and is very diverse in how we buy. I think this is the future and we are stuck with it.

    I will continue to support Garth new music or old because anything makes me happy. I loved MAM, Chris Gaines and even GS. I still listen to the old stuff all the time. I have his first album in my player right now.

    Again great thoughts and now you have mine. LOL :-)

  5. #5
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    Hmmm, interesting points rhd13. As I was reading your post it hit me that maybe the point that Garth focuses on selling to retail is part of the issue.

    As you said, Garth wants/lusts/thirsts, etc RIAA certs, and so he will simply not deal in numbers less than 1 million. The Walmart BIAOMR box was 1 million units produced. There were 1 million units produced of MAM (maybe more). The Target box was 1 million units produced. This new Legacy set is 500,000k, but since there are 2 copies of every album in every box, it essentially counts as 1 million produced for each album.

    Sooo… maybe just maybe Garth has tried to get retailers to buy 1 million copies of Fun, and the retailers have simply refused. Maybe they think that 2019 new Garth is not very marketable, and so they are only willing to buy (at least in the numbers that Garth likes to deal in) product that has proven to be profitable, which is the old stuff. Maybe Garth's shift from focusing on the new stuff (like when MAM came out) has been drowned out by boxed sets and the Legacy sets geared toward the old stuff because that is ALL retail will buy.

    Maybe the fact that the newer songs at the concerts get relatively tepid reactions compared to the old songs tells Garth that the money is in the old stuff rather than the new.

    If that's the case, and with Garth being a businessman almost first and foremost, and with his almost singular goal to get Diamond Awards and RIAA certs, it'd be no wonder that everything got pushed aside for Legacy.

    New albums and new songs are hard!!! They're expensive to produce and there's a lot of pressure (both from within yourself and from the market and fans) to make them as good as legendary old stuff. And after a year or more's worth of blood, sweat, agony, and tears over 10-12 songs that you've finally gotten to the point that you're happy with them, you then get told that retail will only buy 200,000-300,000 copies TOTAL (if you're lucky), radio wants nothing to do with the songs despite major pushes on your part (i.e. renting out Cowboys Stadium), they don't sell well, and then when you play the songs live the crowds start moving in droves to the beer lines.

    Now compare that to Legacy. The remixes were done in 2014. The original mixes were all on file. So literally all Garth had to do was approve a packaging design and layout, and then sell it. That's it! Voila... it's done. And more importantly, now retail will buy your 500,000 copies no problem (because the marketability of the old songs is tried and proven) and even better yet, he gets to add 7 million more RIAA units to his totals and 2-3 more Diamond awards. In other words, it's a no brainer why everything got shoved aside. The new stuff is hard and expensive to produce and nobody buys it, whereas the old stuff is easy to produce and it sells like hotcakes. From a business perspective, it's no question where you put your focus.

    Now personally, like you mentioned, I wish Garth didn't give two flying flips about RIAA totals, business plans, marketability, etc. I wish he would, as he preaches, just make good music and let it do the talking for him rather than resorting to boxed sets and gimmicks to build a legacy. But, as I said, Garth is almost a businessman first and foremost. Music, while he loves it, is just his product. So it's just the way it's going to be from now on, I think.

    I think Garth wishes he could focus on the new stuff. But maybe retail, radio, and concert crowds and beer lines tell him his time is better spent focusing on the old stuff, so that's what he does.
    Last edited by Emerald Isle; 10-30-2019 at 03:43 PM.

  6. #6
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    Outstanding points Emerald and I think you are probably right. The line that struck me was this:

    “But, as I said, Garth is almost a businessman first and foremost. Music, while he loves it, is just his product.”

    I think at one point Garth was an artist who did business. Now I think he’s a business that does music...and THAT is the problem for us who want him to be an artist first and foremost.

  7. #7
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    I don't know why it is the old music that he is selling again and again. I only know, that I am done buying it. I consider myself a big Garth fan, but I also consider myself fairly intelligent... there is only so much I can stomach. I will see him in concert whenever I can, I will buy his new music, but I am done with buying the old stuff. Don't care what he wraps it up in. I guess at some point MOST fans will stop buying the old stuff and maybe then he will start concentrating on the new stuff? I hope so, anyway.
    The sevens have aligned. It has begun...

  8. #8
    Post of the year, RHD13.

    Agree with Man against Machine, the singles he choose were wrong, hell I remember when I first heard people loving people, I could
    barely make out what he was saying, who ever was the sound engineer that worked on it, should've got fired. I thought he released the
    song "MOM" because he worked out his fanbase from the 90's would have children by now.

    Gunslinger was screwed by the boxset, and never got a chance to breath.

    I also thought fans got mixed up, because when "The Ultimate collection" was released, "The Ultimate Hits" rose in the charts.

    As you pointed out, everything got put aside this year because of "The Legacy" No Fun, No standalone Triple Live, NO Diamond series, No Anthology, NO companion DVD to the anthology.
    (Although we are getting an A&E doco)

    I believe we will get FUN IN 2020, But he wont push it at all, because "Legacy 2" will be the big thing.

    I think Garth, is now quite happy doing what he does, 10-12 stadium shows a year, around 10 Dive Bars. (So around 20 dates a year) while having one
    big "Legacy" type released where he puts his old music in a different package, while once every 2/3 years he will release a new album.

    Be great if he focused on new music, or take a quick trip outside North America, he just doesnt want to that.

    He has and always will be a numbers guy.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowland_Kid View Post
    I don't know why it is the old music that he is selling again and again. I only know, that I am done buying it. I consider myself a big Garth fan, but I also consider myself fairly intelligent... there is only so much I can stomach. I will see him in concert whenever I can, I will buy his new music, but I am done with buying the old stuff. Don't care what he wraps it up in. I guess at some point MOST fans will stop buying the old stuff and maybe then he will start concentrating on the new stuff? I hope so, anyway.
    that would be nice to see (garth focusing on the new stuff).. I can't say I WONT buy stuff he puts out (heck, I bought the legacy set and I don't have a vinyl player) but there will have to be some type of substantial reason. I don't get the obsessive over collecting of covers etc... for example, but that's me
    An objective Garth fan, with my own views...

    I have a purpose
    Made in His image
    Accepted by Him
    Given new life in Christ
    Eternity with Him

    My collection of all things Garth....
    The GarthCast

  10. #10
    I think he'll take a page out of the George Strait playbook. He'll do 20 or so shows a year and that's it. Push the legacy (old stuff). I agree with gbkubfan I think he's sees that his albums are selling what he thinks they should and it wouldn't surprise me if down the line he just stopped putting out albums.

  11. #11
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    I think he just wants to continue playing music while being protective of his brand.

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