The superstar discussed Vegas, his partnership with TuneIn, and more

Garth Brooks kicked off the first-ever Billboard Country Live in Conversation ahead of the 50th anniversary of CMA Fest on Wednesday (June 7th). The icon of the genre discussed his Vegas residency, his upcoming partnership with TuneIn and looked back on his career as a whole.

Billboard West Coast and Nashville editor Melinda Newman kicked things off by asking Brooks about his transformation from an introvert to a machine who puts on what Brooks calls the “freak show”. “What happens on the walk to the stage?” she asked.

Getting choked up, he said simply, “You get to sing.”

Opening up even further on his opinions of the modern day music industry, Brooks said his TuneIn will lean more traditional in ways that terrestrial does not.

“The record labels control radio. They just do.”

He continued, “Just because the label might think George Strait’s career is past the label part, I want to hear the new stuff from George Strait.”

Addressing how culture can impact the radio industry’s programming decisions, Brooks offered, “Just because we get some kind of shit where everybody’s yelling at each other and all of a sudden The Chicks are canceled, don’t make the mistake of going, ‘Yeah, well, their music wasn’t any good.’ Their music was fantastic.

“So my thing is, I want to hear the new song from Luke Combs, followed by the new song from The Dixie Chicks or The Chicks… followed by Lainey Wilson. I also want to hear country radio again where half of it is female voices.”

When Newman pressed about how he’ll program the stations on his network, he said the focus will be squarely on the music.

“If you play someone because of the color of their skin or their gender, it’s as equally wrong as if you DON’T play someone for the color of their gender,” he proclaimed to applause.

This was as revealing as Brooks has ever been about his thoughts on the contemporary industry, and it was refreshing to hear. Brooks will tackle these issues via his TuneIn channel, which will be heard globally in 120 countries.

“Overnights here will be middle of the day in Australia, in England, I mean, this is so cool. We can start doing global country music, and American’s will hear maybe an Irish band that has a great country song, right, or an Australian band.”

Another revealing moment came when Newman asked how social media would have impacted his career in the 90s. “Death.” Garth said. He then went on to talk about how mistakes in his personal life still made the front page, but social media would have made it harder to overcome them. As he grew as a man and as a father, he said, he wound up with his best friend, Trisha Yearwood.

Towards the end of the chat, Brooks gave his mission statement for TuneIn: “What I love is we gotta shrink this planet because we’re gonna tear it apart if we don’t. We gotta shrink this planet and let everybody know — educate ourselves on who we are and then America is not this vicious money grabbing thing.

“America is where dreams come true and people love one another. That’s the message I want to send out to those other 119 countries.”