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Garth Brooks launches iTunes competitor called GhostTunes

In an attempt to bypass Apple’s structured pricing model on iTunes, country musician Garth Brooks has helped launch a new digital music service that allows artists to set pricing when selling music. Calling the service GhostTunes, this marks the first time that Brooks has made his music available for purchase in a digital format. Brooks has long shunned music download services like Apple’s iTunes and music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. Interestingly, Brooks owns his master recordings and would have made considerably more than other artists considering how popular the distribution model of services like iTunes and Spotify are in the United States.

However, it’s likely that the terms of the deal with GhostTunes is more lucrative for Brooks since he’s a part owner in the company. It’s also likely that the company will profit from other artists that choose to sell their music on GhostTunes. According to Brooks, the appeal of the new service is that artists can “sell music any way they want to” specifically allowing the “copyright owner to make the decision.” For example, an artist could package together multiple digital albums as well as physical items like a Blu-ray of a recent performance or branded merchandise.

In the case of Brooks, he is selling his music in album format starting with a large bundle of his previous eight albums and two future studio albums for a price of $29.99. Brooks prefers to sell music in an album format, but will be making singles available as a pre-order to a new album. Speaking about this strategy to the L.A. Times, Brooks said “Singles will be pre-orders for the album. If someone hears the single and they don’t like it, they’ve got radio to listen to. If they hear the second single and they like and decide maybe I want this, they can order it as a pre-order for the album.”

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Regarding device compatibility, music purchases on GhostTunes can be downloaded immediately to a computer or to a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad. Similar to purchases on other services, GhostTunes offer cloud-based storage in order to listen to music or download it from any location. Brooks did not provide details on the type of digital format that GhostTuynes would use to encode the music or any possible DRM used to protect music purchases from illegal distribution.

At the moment, a variety of other artists listed on GhostTunes includes Maroon 5, ColdPlay, Sam Smith, Jeezy, Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, DeadMau5, Daft Punk, Brad Paisley, Shakira and Kenny G. There are also a number of comedy albums offered on the music service from comedians such as the late Robin Williams, Kevin Hart, Jim Gaffigan and Weird Al Yankovic.

Brooks plans on releasing his next album on Black Friday this year as well as another album during fall 2015. Today’s announcement also coincided with the launch of his new tour in Chicago. He also plans to perform five shows in Atlanta, Georgia and three shows in Jacksonville, Florida in the coming weeks.

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