Garth Brooks, who has long eschewed the idea of selling his music digitally, announced recently that he would begin to make his albums available in a digital format through his website. But with his music still at least a couple of days away from being available digitally, it already seems likely that Brooks will surpass Elvis Presley in sales.
According to USA Today, if the Oklahoma native sells even 1 million downloads of his 18-disc catalog — a feat which seems likely, since his box set, "Blame It All On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences," sold almost 1 million copies exclusively through Walmart — he’d surpass the King of Rock and Roll. Currently, Presley’s worldwide sales number at 134.5 million, while Brooks is close behind with 134 million.
In addition, the "Friends in Low Places" singer could threaten the Beatles' record of 177 million, especially with the release of Brooks’ upcoming album, which is currently in process.
The RIAA guidelines, which determine gold and platinum sales, require a minimum of $2 for their pricing requirement, while Billboard sales charts dictate a price of at least $3.49, if he packaged his catalog as a digital boxed set.
“If he’s just reissuing his old albums, he can sell them for basically whatever he wants and still have them count” toward chart positions, explains Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts/sales.
“His history with selling music and charting with music has always been really fascinating and really interesting,” he adds. “I look forward to finding out what Garth will be doing, just like everybody else is.”
One performer who seems unlikely to be affected by the country music hitmaker is Katy Perry, who is currently the top-selling digital singles artist, since Brooks insists he will only make his music available in an album format.
The 52-year-old’s announcement that fans would be able to download his music was welcome news to millions of his fans.
“People are going to mistake [what I'm doing] for giving it away, but I’m not,” Brooks maintains, adding that he will allow fans “to get it all at a stupid price,” hinting that it might be more cost effective to purchase his entire catalog at once.
With Brooks already the top-selling artist in the USA since 1991 (which is the year Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales), his star power stands to increase exponentially when his music is available in a digital format.
“It’s probably going to make a big, big splash,” David Bakula, a senior vice president for Nielsen Entertainment, which operates SoundScan, says. “The closer you get to free, the more you’ll probably have a bunch of people who weren’t really big fans and wouldn’t have gone out and bought a new album [think], ‘My gosh, for that price I can have the whole thing? Yeah.’ ”