Garth Brooks and Walmart announced this week that his music will be available exclusively at Wal-mart and its various affiliates such as Sams Club, as soon as existing physical inventory at other retailers becomes exhausted.
Why is this interesting? Garth Brooks is the top selling music artist in American history. It's the first time that a top 5 artist has decided to sell his music exclusively through one outlet, no matter how big it is. This is potentially going to be a bad precedent for Walmart's competitors, but one has to remember that Best Buy started this exclusivity trend, and that Walmart probably sells more than 50% of Garth's content since it has a larger market share in rural communities, so why not do it in order to differentiate their stores? It's similar to the recently announced NFL/Sprint deal where a sub set of NFL content is available only to Sprint subscribers - it may not work for everyone, but the NFL is assuming that their brand is high enough to drive subs to Sprint if the NFL content is good enough - we'll see how the Walmart/Garth numbers work in the next year.
However, what is amazing as far as we can see is that there are still no digital rights available for Garth Brooks content on Walmart.com's music service. So Garth gets his music rights fully released from EMI, and decides to continue to sit on the digital rights? That is where the major value will be within 5 years, and you would assume there would be a plan for that as well, but for now it looks like the Garth digital hold out will continue.