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FROM THE SCARY BUT TRUE DEPARTMENT: There is an interesting piece in today's LA Times Wal-Mart's deal with Garth Brook, their new Soundcheck series of exclusive in-store and net broadcasts and how the retail giant has the power to transform the record business:

Walmart_1"It's analogous to the way they want to deal with their vendors — they want to deal directly and cut out the middleman, whether it's widgets or Rubbermaid, and now they're doing it with stars...Whatever they touch they transform, because they're so big and they have such tremendous market clout...The Brooks deal reflects the retailer's power within the recording industry, particularly in country music. Some label executives estimate that Wal-Mart is responsible for 50% of the genre's sales..."

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