If you live on Earth, you have heard about the deal between Country Music Legend Garth Brooks and mega super store, Wal-Mart. Brooks, who has always proved to be a marketing innovator, has inked a deal that is sure to set the music industry on fire. Recently parting from his label, Capitol Records, the deal grants sole distribution rights to Wal-Mart.
What can we learn from Garth? First, he’s all about the business, his fans, and marketing, something I speak about repeatedly both on my weekly radio show as well as in my book, The Indie Guide To Music, Marketing and Money. While Brooks has not recorded a new CD since 2001, his least successful by Brooks’s standards, this marketing genius still captures headlines, creating urgency for his music.
How does he do it? Brooks learned from his time in the trenches, when every label rejected him sometimes twice, it’s all about the business. Brooks took the business very seriously and handled his contract negations with incredible savvy and skill. One of the most important negations he made was to make sure he owned the masters to his own music.
Because Brooks owned the music, he received a higher percentage of the gross, which helped insure he covered the recoupable costs the labels receive. Ultimately, whether he was still with Capitol or not, he owned his music and that enabled him to be able to do whatever he wanted with it.
A big mistake label seekers make when in negotiations is to let go of their rights in order to get the “prize.” If you give up your rights and your label shelves the project and drops you, anything you created is theirs, even if you wrote the music. You can’t take it with you unless you have a lot of money and a really great lawyer. But even so, the label has the final say.
There is a lot we can learn from the masters and this is one lesson I hope everyone is able to hold on to; learn the business and always get legal advice and counsel before you go into contract negotiations. If you don’t know a really great entertainment attorney, I have a few I would highly recommend: Jordan Keller and Miller Hogan of Lassiter, Tidwell and Hildebrand. Jordan, whose clients include the Backstreet boys will be on my show in a few weeks, so don’t miss it! To a better day in every way.
Jaci Rae is a #1 Best Selling author of The Indie Guide to Music, Marketing and Money and Winning Points with the Woman in Your Life One Touchdown at a Time. Tune in for “The Jaci Rae Show” heard live around the world every Thursday: Click on the weekly show link