Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starbucks Hears the Music

Naturally, there’s no shortage of opinions that Starbucks has waded in over its head in the wrong pond by starting a record label.

From the AP story (3/13):
“Now, rather than basically lending the Starbucks brand to an album, the Los Angeles-based Hear Music label will sign its own artists and sell records through Starbucks stores and other retailers.”
Makes perfect sense to me: not only has sophisticated music been an essential ingredient in their presentation from the start, but they’ve been pushing individual artists and recordings in their stores for years, and, it’s always seemed, very successfully. (They're quoted as claiming music to be only 1% of their business.)

Of course it’s in character for them: the first part of their name, the leadoff sound, has always been "Star." And success in the music biz has always been about stars and hits – the money’s made with them, which supports the rest of the bets you place in constant search for winners.

Hear Music says they won’t build in any advantage over other retailers in distribution or prices. Music stores had better start serving top-drawer coffee, though: the coffeeshops put their product in front of 44 million customers per week. This should certainly expand their role as another Oprah.

(Thank goodness they seemed to have leveled off from the frenzy of store openings of years past – one of the funniest bits I ever saw in the Onion was about a Starbucks that opened in the restroom of an existing Starbucks. And it is true that a drive down Harvard Ave in Boston, for example, will make you feel like Bill Murray’s Groundhogged newsman. Sure smells good, though.)

Starbucks Launches Record Label
Related, here:
Brick and mortar e-music & bookstores (2/12/07)

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