Garth Brooks, historically one of digital music's most stalwart holdouts, startled fans during a Nashville press conference Thursday by announcing he would finally be offering his music for download.
Brooks did not make clear whether his catalog would be sold at iTunes, Amazon, or other services, but did state that music would be available via his official website in two to three weeks.
The 52-year-old country icon is one of the very last artists who shuns the digital marketplace, having expressed disagreement with iTunes's marketing strategies, and has become almost as famous for this particular standoff as he is for his music itself. Other top-selling holdouts like AC/DC and the Beatles eventually broke down and put their catalogs online, but Brooks has stuck to his guns until now.
Brooks is also one of the few superstars who has managed to avoid social media, but he noted that he is figuring it out and plans to ease into both Facebook and Twitter accounts... eventually.
Brooks, who went into semi-retirement 13 years ago in order to concentrate on his family, also dropped several other big pieces of news, including that he has inked a new deal with Sony Music Nashville and plans to release a new album in the near future.
"I can't tell you when, because truthfully, we don't know," he admitted, but added that he hopes probably around Black Friday of this year.
Brooks added that it might even be a double album, due to being "pent up" during his retirement. He jokingly admitted he realizes he's been out of the scene for some time, saying, "Scared? Yes. Old? Yes," he said. "My bigger hope is that I don't regret this day."
However, his excitement was infectious. He even revealed that there will be a song on the album that "takes the place of" his signature 1990 hit, "The Dance."
Unlike his most recent albums, which were exclusively sold at Walmart, Brooks plans to offer the record at all retail outlets.
Finally, he confirmed that a world tour is in the works, that he's partnered with Ticketmaster for the trek, and is "very proud" of the ticket prices he plans to offer.
Brooks noted toward the end of the conference that stepping out of the spotlight was invaluable for his purpose as a father, allowing him the time to watch his three daughters grow up. Noting that his job had previously been to tour and "to eat Taco Bell at 3 a.m.," he added that he'd come home to "three children that I didn't know."
"Now the luckiest guy on planet has three healthy baby girls chasing their own dreams," he noted. "And now I can eat Taco Bell at 3 a.m. again.
"A second half of a career is not granted," he concluded. "But you are giving me a chance to."