×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Garth Brooks on Prodding Amazon, Prepping a Duets Record and Why Ed Sheeran Has Country Music Beat

Garth Brooks sold tens of millions of albums prior to the Internet era, but the country icon has plenty to say about the music world today. One of the savvier users of technology and social media, Brooks, who just released his latest multi-disc project, “The Anthology, Part 3 Live,” invites fans into his world every Monday night with his Facebook Live show, “Inside Studio G.” He spoke to Variety about technology, his exclusive streaming deal with Amazon and why he’s looking to acts like Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé for inspiration.

VARIETY: Tell us about your Amazon deal and how that is going.
BROOKS:
We’ve done a deal with Amazon and our deal with Amazon is about three years now. (I’m) getting ready to re-sign with them, and the one thing I keep harping on them is discovery. If everything is “next,” if I don’t like it, how in the world do I discover anything if it’s not a single? I’ve probably heard it before it’s a single. So discovery is everything in music — just trying to figure out how people that are digesting music now, that are my age when I was a teenager, are finding those nuggets that you don’t see (among everything) that’s been blown out and commercialized.

How do you enjoy the interaction with fans you have on social?
They’re so far ahead of us. These two girls wrote in to Trisha [Yearwood] and I and said, “Hey, look, I know you guys are gonna do a duet record. Would you ever think about doing a duet concert where the whole night is duets?” And I’m looking at her going, “No, wait a minute, let’s combine the two ideas. What if we cut a live duet record in front of a live audience? And that’s how we do our duet record?” And then all of a sudden you have a live greatest hits duet record and people get to watch how a record is made, so you kind of bring the studio to the stage. Section it off like you do in a regular studio, cut things live right there in front of people. I think it’s an awesome idea and I think it’s something we’re probably gonna do. And we’re talking about doing it with the Ryman down here in Nashville.

Is there a timeline for when you want to record it?
No, probably within the next year or so I think. The stadium tour kicks off next year in March. Miss Yearwood has her own tour going on, so we’ll find a window in there. We’re not touring as hard as we did the last three years. The last three years it was like 395 shows on the tour. This one is gonna be really spread out, just individual nights, like 10 a year. And it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Who are the artists you admire for the way they’ve evolved and handled their careers?
Country music right now is trying to find itself. It’s okay; every format goes through this kind of thing. Right now we’re trying to find our own identity. So I’m gonna stay out of the country format right now and go to the pop format, which I think is in their full-blown self discovery right now. You’ve got a guy like Ed Sheeran, who’s doing all this stuff with so little. But he’s found a way to do it with technology’s help. So this guy’s juggling a thousand balls and he’s a one-man show kind of thing. Now take it to Beyoncé, who is leading armies — marching bands — and still keeping it together. So you respect those both type of people for entirely different reasons, but you respect them the same because they’re both juggling a million things. Love that. And some people will tell you it’s easier to juggle many things if you’re one person than it is to juggle many things if it’s a million different people. So each one has its own gift very different from the other. I wouldn’t want to take on either one of those. I love being part of a team.

You have Vegas residencies now, and “Springsteen on Broadway.” It seems like there are no limits to what certain artists can do, and you have the audience to go anywhere.
Everything that is a blessing is a curse. So with the digital age comes the curse of record sales disappearing. So people buying records and waiting for them, taking them home, listening to them, listening parties, reading the lyrics — all this stuff is gone. But what has totally changed is it’s made the live performance king now. “Oh, got it: there’s only one place this person is gonna be in the world. Never dawned on me before like it does before.” So now the live performance rules everything and the rulebook has been thrown away. Billy Joel showed them all. “I’m gonna do a residency in Madison Square Garden.” So that’s what these guys do. I think the doors are totally off, rulebook is totally thrown out and live, live, live is everything now.

What one piece of advice would you like to share with artists?
If there is one piece of advice I could tell every artist out there I would tell them this: Don’t let reality get in the way because what people say can be done and what people say cannot be done… they’re not correct. You determine what can be done. You really do. You can change the course of everything if you just don’t f—ing give in. That’s what Prince did.

More Music

  • Dee Rees

    Dee Rees Directing 'Kyd's Exquisite Follies' Movie Musical

    “Mudbound” director Dee Rees will direct independent movie musical fantasy “The Kyd’s Exquisite Follies” from her own script. “The Kyd’s Exquisite Follies” will be produced by Cassian Elwes, one of the “Mudbound” producers. Santigold is set to compose the music, with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic creating the film’s visual effects. Endeavor Content is repping the [...]

  • Genius Spars With Google Over Lyric

    Genius Accuses Google of Scraping Song Lyrics, Music Data Company Hits Back

    Lyrics annotation service Genius.com has accused Google of scraping its site and stealing its content, the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. However, a lyrics data provider at the center of the controversy claimed on Monday that those allegations were without merit. The Journal reported that Genius had been complaining to Google about the alleged [...]

  • Raptors' Win Enraptures Top Canadian Music

    Raptors' Win Enraptures Top Canadian Music Exec Chris Taylor

    It’s not just a Drake thing — the entire Canadian music business is feeling gleeful over Toronto’s NBA championship. Among the celebrants is Toronto-bred Chris Taylor, the global president of music at Entertainment One, the global music and filmed company based in the land of Raptors. He was at the team’s very first game in 1995 [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Megadeth Cancels Tour Following Dave Mustaine's Cancer Diagnosis

    Megadeth singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine, who famously began his career as a member of Metallica, has been diagnosed with throat cancer. In a statement released Monday, Mustaine, 57, said that his diagnosis is “clearly something to be respected and faced head on — but I’ve faced obstacles before. I’m working closely with my doctors, and we’ve [...]

  • Garbage’s Shirley Manson Interviews Courtney Love

    Garbage’s Shirley Manson Interviews Courtney Love, More on ‘The Jump’ Podcast

    Garbage’s forthright frontwoman Shirley Manson is no stranger to interviews, having given thousands in her 35-year career. But as host of the new seven-episode podcast “The Jump” on the Mailchimp Presents platform, the tables are turned as Manson is in conversation with artists including Courtney Love, Perfume Genius, Big Boi and Karen O, discussing “the [...]

  • Troy Tomlinson, president and CEO of

    Troy Tomlinson Leaves Sony/ATV to Head UMPG Nashville; Will Taylor Swift Follow?

    Troy Tomlinson will become the chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville after leaving his longtime home, Sony/ATV, where he served as president/CEO of the Nashville division since 2005, it was announced Monday. He assumes the newly created position July 15. Even before the move was officially announced, there was speculation that Sony/ATV’s most prominent songwriter, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content