Now Amazon has a music exclusive, too: It’s the only place to stream Garth Brooks

Last week, Amazon launched a new streaming music service and tried to differentiate itself from the competition using lower prices.

Now it’s using Garth Brooks.

Amazon Music Unlimited — the service Amazon sells for $10, $8 and $4 a month — will be the only service streaming songs from the country star, who until today was one of the last big music acts who didn’t stream their work.

You won’t be able to stream all of Brooks’s music today — just his new single, “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” and two greatest hits albums. Amazon says Brooks’s upcoming album “Gunslinger” will also stream on the service, as well as future projects like a Christmas album with his wife, Trisha Yearwood.

Amazon will also be the only digital service to sell digital downloads of Brooks’s music. It says almost all of Brooks’s back catalog will be for sale via its Amazon music store.

Amazon isn’t announcing the terms of the deal, but it appears to be a long-term one; the company will also sponsor a Brooks concert tour next year.

Earlier this month, I asked Amazon music boss Steve Boom whether his company was interested in signing up artists for exclusive deals, as rival services Tidal and Apple Music had done.

“For us, the jury is out,” he said, which in retrospect seems to be not entirely truthful. That one goes in the ledger, Steve.

We don’t know whether this deal will be the first of many for Amazon or a one-off. But we do know that it’s different from the Tidal and Spotify exclusives with acts like Beyoncé and Drake, because it’s with an artist that hit his commercial peak a couple decades ago.

But Brooks is still a very big deal with a very large fan base — he has sold more albums in the U.S. than anyone except the Beatles — and Amazon may be correct in betting that many Garth Brooks fans have yet to sign up for a streaming music service.

So his presence on Amazon may be an effective marketing tool.

The deal is also a reminder of the rare leverage a handful of music acts enjoy when they, rather than a music label, own the rights to their music. Brooks controls the rights to almost all of his back catalog, except for “Machine Music,” a 2014 album he put out with Sony Music’s RCA label.

That control had previously allowed him to keep his music off of Apple’s iTunes store. And two years ago, that control allowed him to launch GhostTunes, an online store that has been the exclusive place to buy his music online up until now.

That store doesn’t appear to have been a giant success, but it was his, at least until now. Amazon says GhostTunes will remain open, but says it intends to eventually operate the site itself.

Which means Brooks found a way to sell both his music and his store to the Web’s biggest retailer.


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