The economist in me enjoyed more than just the music.
First, it was interesting how Brooks did a live show to (presumably) paying customers at the Wynn, simultaneously with doing a made-for-TV concert, complete with commercial breaks. The live audience witnessed a more complete show with some full songs that completed during commercial breaks. It was worth watching at home, and I'm sure the ratings were pretty good for a Friday night. It made me wonder why more artists don't do big made-for-TV concerts like this (maybe they do, and I miss them -- that's possible).
Second, it was even more interesting to me that the made-for-TV concert was an advertisement unto itself. For Black Friday, Brooks was releasing an 8-disc box set of his own music and cover songs of popular other songs that influences his music. The made-for-TV event was designed to announce to the world that he was doing this. In addition, the show got us to wonder if Garth was kicking off a new run of shows in Vegas. He's not, but if he was, it would be a great way to kick off a new live series of shows.
Finally, Garth Brooks appears to be back in the pre-iTunes pre-YouTube world. He has a longstanding dispute with iTunes where he won't make any songs of his available for download, and that dispute continues with this new release, according to the Star Tribune:
It's priced at just $24.96, and can only be bought at Wal-Mart, its sister retailer Sam's Club and walmart.com. Brooks says his feelings about iTunes haven't changed, so he won't make the set available as a download or stream.
"So, until they change or I change," Brooks said, "or some other company comes and gives them some competition, then I don't think you're ever going to see us on iTunes."
This aversion to the new technology of the music industry puzzles me because it strikes me as quite popular (and potentially quite profitable for a big name like Garth Brooks). I spent the morning scouring YouTube for a Garth Brooks channel, and I didn't see one. Rather, I saw a bunch of pirated songs with Garth pictures, or poorly-done covers of his music. For the new generation of folks who engage with music through YouTube and iTunes, why would he want these knockoffs to be the first hit? I'm sure he doesn't want this, but he's not actively fighting it (and I think that's a mistake).
Even worse, not producing a well-done official YouTube channel leaves tons of money on the table. The revenue stream from new CD sales of Garth Brooks music just has to pale in comparison to the advertising revenue stream from an official Garth channel. Plus, YouTube is a whole new audience, so cannibalization of the CD market should be a minor concern.
It is hard to question a marketing decision of the greatest-selling solo performer of all time, but the choice to shun iTunes and (especially) YouTube just seems wrong to me. It is all the more puzzling when you see what a cool idea the made-for-TV production + release of the new bundle of music is.