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"Friends in Low Places" plan hit snafu

Friday, September 4, 2015 – Only a day after word leaked that a 25th anniversary of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" was in process with superstars like George Strait aboard, the plan ran into a legal roadblock.

Billboard reported that problems with royalty payments squashed the idea.

Brooks was re-recording the song as part of a remixed, remastered 25th anniversary edition of "No Fences." The new version was also going to included Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Keith Urban.

The problem was the royalty rate due songwriters by their publishing companies.

Billboard said a deal had been hatched with an unidentified non-traditional retailer to purchase a minimum of 1 million units.

For the deal to happen, publishers had to agree to a discounted royalty rate in return for the guaranteed 1 million purchase.

Billboard said most did agree, but a few, including Sony/ATV Music and Universal Music Publishing Group, would only agree to a lesser discount.

But the rate would have to remain the same for all publishers, and as a result, Brooks said that was more than the retailer could afford.

Brooks told Billboard that the publishers told him they would not agree to a discounted deal to protect the songwriters.

The 1 million guarantee was far more than albums currently sell. In this day and age of declining record sales, only Drake's "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" has hit the million mark.

"No Fences" has sold 4,000 copies in 2015, according to SoundScan. Thus far, each of the 10 tracks has earned the songwriters and publishers $364 to split year to date, according to Billboard.

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