Q: How much does Garth Brooks stand to make off of his boxed set? How pent up is demand for his music, given that he has released three box sets?
A: The Oklahoma-based musician may have given us nothing between 2001 and 2009, and he may have limited his distribution to a single store — Walmart — but demand for the singer’s twang remains almost as insane as it was during his pre-Chris Gaines days.
The new set, which includes six CDs and two DVDs for a modest $25, has debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, trouncing Britney Spears’s disappointing "Britney Jean" as well as the latest efforts from One Direction and Kelly Clarkson.
In its first week, "Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades" of Influences sold nearly 150,000 copies. And the insanity is just starting. ("It's a really popular item online right now, so be patient if you're trying to pick it up today," the understated Oklahoma-based entertainment blogger Brandy McDonnell wrote late last month.)
Exactly how much Brooks will likely make off of those sales is unclear; details of his Walmart deal haven’t been widely distributed, though industry insiders assume that Brooks got a "fine haul up front," as one expert put it to me. And don’t be shocked if the store offers him a generous royalty per album in exchange for that tight exclusivity.
But we do know this: Spin deputy editor Rob Harvilla says the set easily has the potential to sell more than a half-million through the holiday season and a solid 1 million before it's all over.
"Country music is not generally digital-music-averse [but] Garth is the one notable exception, and given the huge groundswell for that box it clearly works for him," Harvilla tells me. "He's just a sneakily beloved guy — you forget how crazily hugely famous he was, and in point of fact still is.
"And Walmart's backing is never a bad thing: Consider the 'Duck Dynasty' Christmas album, or, better yet, don't. If he indeed launches a huge tour in 2014, it'll be one of the biggest stories of the year for sure."
According to ASCAP, recording artist royalties usually range from 10 percent to 25 percent of a suggested retail price. Brooks’s deal with Walmart is obviously the furthest thing from your typical distribution deal, but assuming that the royalty range is the same, Brooks stands to make, on the low end, $2.5 million, if Harvilla’s prediction comes to pass. And that’s just off of the set — not tour tickets or merch.
Indeed, Brooks has announced a world tour for 2014 — his first since 2000.
Not that the musician is likely to charge Beyoncé-level prices for a seat.
"I doubt Brooks himself is really in this for the money at this point," Country Music Television online columnist Alison Bonaguro tells me. "I just don't think that's a consideration when he makes decisions. He's known for keeping his concert ticket prices relatively low, and usually finds ways to counteract the ticket reseller monopoly."
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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.