This week on the music beat

By Tom Sinclair
Updated December 10, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

CHRIS MISS With a reported annual income of $54 million, Garth Brooks can buy himself any Christmas gift he wants. Yet the sugarplum he really craves—to break the Beatles’ albums-sold record—will likely elude him this year: He’s at 89 million domestic, according to the RIAA; the Fab Four’s at 106.

Brooks’ label, Capitol Nashville, shipped more than 2 million units of his flop …In the Life of Chris Gaines but sold only 712,000 copies. Now, in a move that smacks more of desperation than holiday largesse, the label is offering retailers a $3 rebate on every Gaines sold by Christmas. ”Chris Gaines is not as big as the retailers needed [to earn a substantial] profit,” admits Capitol Nashville prexy Pat Quigley, ”so this is a way to increase the [sales] velocity of the record while maintaining the retailers’ margin of profit. It’s what I believe we owe the retailer and the consumer.”

Meanwhile, Brooks has just released his second Christmas album, Garth Brooks & the Magic of Christmas. The cover doesn’t say so, but the disc is the soundtrack to a Brooks-produced TV movie of the same name, scheduled for Christmas 2000. Quigley says the CD will be repackaged next year to coincide with the film’s release, making the current batch of Magic discs—the covers of which are stamped with the words ”Christmas 1999 First Edition”—even more of a must-buy. ”There are Garth collectors out there with an eBay mind-set, collecting his albums [to sell] 50 years from now,” notes Quigley, who says a limited run of only 1 million Magic first editions has been printed. That’s sort of like a million chances to strike it rich in 2049 — while, conveniently, putting Brooks that much closer to beating the Beatles. That Garth — he just loves to share the wealth.