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Starbucks - Your Next Music Superstore? 226

Posted by simoniker
from the also-kitchen-sink dept.
prostoalex writes "The Fast Company magazine looks into the next horizon in music retailing - allowing customers to choose the songs they like in relaxed environment and burning custom CDs from digital copies of the content. The claimed innovator in the field is none other than Seattle-based Starbucks: 'This August, Starbucks will install individual music-listening stations, with CD-burning capabilities, in 10 existing Starbucks locations in Seattle. From there, the concept rolls out to Texas in the fall, including Starbucks stores in the music mecca of Austin. With the help of technology partner Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks plans to have 100 coffee shops across the country enabled with Hear Music CD-burning stations by next Christmas, and more than 1,000 locations up and running by the end of 2005.' And what's wrong with traditional music outlets? 'Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry.'"
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Starbucks - Your Next Music Superstore?

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  • by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:50PM (#9636927)
    That's 0.00000001% of the Seattle locations.
    • by funny-jack (741994) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:57PM (#9636990) Homepage
      That's 0.00000001% of the Seattle locations.

      ...in one tower downtown.
    • by g33kgirl (571248) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [lrigk33g]> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:02PM (#9637041) Homepage

      'Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry.'

      What Starbucks are they looking at? The few times I've been in a Starbucks, it's been full of dumb teenagers humming Brittney Spears songs. It's not like the stuff they're promoting isn't mainstream anyway. It's just a different branch of mainstream.

      Show me a Starbucks where they play Mineral, Freakwater, or Belle and Sebastian, and I'll be impressed.

      (On a slightly related note: one of the funniest things I have ever seen was at a Starbucks in St. Louis, MO, where I went to college. A bunch of punk kids (15-18 years old, I'd guess), with their anarchy patches and bright colored mohawks, were sitting outside the local Starbucks, happily sipping their corporate-whore coffee. I laughed my ass off. Ah, the irony.)

      • by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:12PM (#9637113)
        What Starbucks are they looking at? The few times I've been in a Starbucks...

        Anecdotes != data. I'm sure Starbucks has spent millions determining their demographics.

        • by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <[mdinsmore] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:41PM (#9637739) Homepage Journal

          Anecdotes != data. I'm sure Starbucks has spent millions determining their demographics.

          Indeed they did. From the Article:
          Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV

          They determined that their customer is more likely to be a talk show radio listener than a music listener. And yet they plan to offer music, and not talk radio sessions, in their stores? I think they're letting their "vision" get in the way of their research.

          As an NPR listener myself, I tune in precisely because it doesn't have any music, and I don't usually buy music. Why does Starbuck's think that they can sell me some?
      • It's just a different branch of mainstream.


        Isn't that an oxymoron? How can there be more than one "main" branch?


        Show me a Starbucks where they play Mineral, Freakwater, or Belle and Sebastian


        Ah, yes. Everybody thinks their own favorite bands are edgy, eclectic well-kept secrets, and everything else is corporate mass media pablum. News flash: "underground cachet" is just another marketing technique.

        • by g33kgirl (571248) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [lrigk33g]> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:05PM (#9637512) Homepage

          How can there be more than one "main" branch?

          Of course there are different branches of mainstream music. Pop, hip hop, country, punk, metal, etc. all have some artists who are mainstream, and some which are "edgy, eclectic well-kept secrets." If you just dislike my metaphor, I apologize. On reflection, it is a bit awkward.

          What I'm trying to say is that considerng Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill outside the mainstream seems silly to me. No, they're not all over the Top 40, but they aren't really unknown either.

          But, then, I worked in college radio, so perhaps my idea of "mainstream" is a bit skewed.

      • Show me a Starbucks where they play Mineral, Freakwater, or Belle and Sebastian, and I'll be impressed.

        Show me a Starbucks where they play Mozart, Bach, or Vivaldi and I'll be impressed.
        • The one I used to work at in Laurel, MD did all the time. The Music at Starbucks comes from compilation CDs, or tapes at our store; we held onto that thing for dear life since the CDs (and I use the term loosely) were more a proprietary mp3-type setup, that expired after a certain time. We just kept collecting the old tapes, and played the good ones while mothballing that bad new ones. Sometimes a good one would make it into our arsenal, but more often not.
      • by darth_abaddon (786581) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:15PM (#9637566)
        Show me a Starbucks where they play Mineral, Freakwater, or Belle and Sebastian, and I'll be impressed

        If your in Santa Monica, CA, your might want to to take a gander at the Hear Music/Starbucks store there. You can listen to any CD & read all the liner notes, while sipping down some outrageously expensive 3rd rate coffee.
        Love "Hear Music", hate "Starbucks".
      • That's nothing, the "anarchists" around here think anarchy is a fancy way of saying goth. Of course they also draw anarachy patches with sharpie on their toungues so they'll be out of the gene pool soon enough anyway..
      • I can't speak to Seattle's market, but in Austin Starbucks isn't exactly the venue of choice for most people--the local coffeeshops are greatly favored here. Coffee's better, wifi is free (austin has one of the highest per capita free hotspot ratios in the country [bizjournals.com]) and most of them serve booze as well. :)

        In a city that's as big on local business as austin is, I find it hard to believe they're trying to cater to the "NPR" market.
      • At my favorite Starbucks, the one at the corner of NW 23rd Ave and Overton St. in Portland Oregon, I heard Elis Regina "Folhas Secas" and Salif Keita "Bolon" within an hour.

        I couldn't believe it.

        Someone who seriously knows good music is programming their tunes.
    • Per starbucks.com, Seattle has ~131 locations (searching for all retail stores within 10 miles of Seattle (city center), discarding suburb locations).

      Seattle has ~560000 people, ~510000 > 14 years old), so that's about 1 Starbucks per 4000 people.

      There are also two "Urban Coffee Opportunities", whatever those are.

      There are 319 locations within 50 miles of Seattle's city center.
  • by SIGALRM (784769) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:51PM (#9636934) Journal
    Starbucks will install individual music-listening stations, with CD-burning capabilities, in 10 existing Starbucks locations in Seattle
    Starbucks, with their deployment of wireless APs in their stores, and now with the music concept, is really working hard to keep customers sitting down longer in their stores, consuming their products.
  • Music Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:52PM (#9636946) Homepage Journal
    Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry.'"

    Wonder how they came to that conclusion. :-P

    I also wonder why the music industry hasn't.
    • Re:Music Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

      by funny-jack (741994) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:00PM (#9637014) Homepage
      Because they're entrenched in their current method of making money. To ditch their current method and try something new would be risky and costly. Starbucks however, is looking for new and innovative ways to expand their business, and isn't afraid to risk a little on something that may have big payoffs.

      Oh, wait... was that a rhetorical question?
      • Re:Music Industry (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nyekulturniy (413420)
        There is the question that haunts all businesses: is Starbucks doing something that is outside of its core competency, which is selling coffee? Not every business can do everything well. I know *$s wants to diversify its income sources. Would I buy a *$ CD? It depends if I can't get the music elsewhere.
        • ...if they're not the ones doing it. Note that it's isn't Starbucks recruiting talent, working out technical glitches, and otherwise managing the distribution of music. They're managing the space in Starbucks' stores to make it more attractive to Starbucks' customers -- which is exactly their core competency.

          And, though anecdotes mean very little in this game, I can't count the number of times that I wish I could have burned a copy of the music playing in a cofeehouse around here. As long as it isn't ou
    • I also wonder why the music industry hasn't.

      It is far more cost-efficient to provide for the unwashed masses than to cater to a niche market. In otherwords, as usual, The Bottom Line.
    • Futile (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Scoria (264473)
      I also wonder why the music industry hasn't.

      Maybe they have. However, maybe they've also determined that those individuals are already vehemently opposed to "corporately distributed" music, and are thus unlikely to purchase their products.

      Such widely propagated beliefs, after all, die hard: According to many, network news is still liberal, American corporations are still honest, and only democrats violate civil liberties. To some, large, corporate music distributors will always be nefarious. And they're
    • Guess what, they have to get the music industry's buy-in to do this kiosk service in the first place. Without licenses from the majors, Starbucks wouldn't have much of a business opportunity here, so the majors have clearly approved of the idea.

      The problem is not with the music industry, it's with the broadcasters who play the same thing on every station. The music industry would be happy to get exposure for new bands, but they don't decide what gets played. They did influence that at one point, but pay
    • The record companies (in other words the Music Industry) will be supplying the music. So this will be different how?

      Some people have mentioned that maybe we will be able to pick and choose our songs. Well, no, that's not the idea. They will sell CD's of lesser known artists or older ones that can't sell records anymore (like the Eagles or Elton John-I am NOT making this up-read the interview).

      Look, this may be a good idea for Starbucks. It may get people to spend more money (CD's, plus more coffee). An
  • Size/Price? (Score:4, Funny)

    by xOleanderx (794187) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:53PM (#9636951)
    I look forward to buying a Venti cd.
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:59PM (#9637001) Homepage Journal
    I've always said that instead of selling tangible product, the music industry needs to shift to a content/service model. All they need to do is put up kiosks where you can insert a CD blank and your credit card, pick from an on-screen catalog, and have the kiosk burn you a copy (and maybe print you the liner notes, and spit out a jewel case, for a couple bucks more).

    Of course, I imagine that the music industry would want your copy of the content to be encrypted or otherwise digitally crippled so that you couldn't do what you wanted with it. The real advancement in intellectual property law and consumer rights will come when they offer to let you buy a "no strings attached" license for the content for a buck or two more, which permits you to copy/transform the content as many times/ways as you want, as long as it's for your own non-profit personal use.

    • You can already do this. I'm sure I remember seeing one at the Virgin Megastore. Nobody seemed very interested in it.
    • This is already available, only you own the kiosk - its called napster ;-)

      But seriously why in a kiosk based model would you need to insert anything but your credit card to get the end product.

      For that matter why CD - its cheap but its not reliable media. I'd rather see an improved verison of the IPOD. The consumer buys the player and downloads directly onto it what they want to be able to listen to.

      The only problem with that approach is that the music industry (or rather than large record companies) hav
    • Yeah.... but I wonder if you said it first, or if I did? Seriously, I was telling people about this idea years and years ago, shortly after CD burners dropped to consumer-level pricing. All I ever heard from people was either A) That's an AWESOME idea! You should try starting a business selling something like that!! or B) That won't ever happen because the recording industry is too scared to place all their content on a single server in a retail outlet. Some employee might get access to it and download
    • Or maybe the music industry should provide a range of quality products. MP3's would be the cheapest and lowest quality and 24bit @ 96khz raw at the "high end".

      It works with clothes, cars, houses, electronics, etc.

      Right now we have the high cost of a mediocre quality standard (CD) or the cheaper (ie, free, stole, shared, whateveryoucallit) MP3.
  • Well, I guess I'm the target market. I listen to NPR, can't stand MTV, and goto StarBucks to use the Free* Internet. I hope the music is to my taste.

    We shall have to see. But I doubt it.

    Ted
    *Free becuase my company pays for it.
  • Not Innovative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VividU (175339) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:05PM (#9637053)
    There was something like this back in the day. It was a jukebox type deal, you'd pick your songs and it would make a tape for your, label and all. Maybe it made CD's too. I don't remember.
  • by izx (460892) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:05PM (#9637054)
    This has the potential to become another non-conventional music outlet like iTMS, but only if they do it right.

    The "NPR-not-MTV listener" they are catering to will have widely varying music tastes, not just the Top 40. How much of a selection will each Starbucks provide? Do they plan to have T1 linkups to a central server? If they work with local storage, then the source tracks will probably be already compressed tracks, affecting quality. I don't see each Starbucks having a half-terabyte RAID array to hold losslessly compressed originals.

    Secondly, price. This can be a one-stop-music-shop, catering not just to those who see it and burn/buy a CD on a whim. Since it doesn't offer any of the advantages of iTMS-style music downloads (instant transfer to computers, portables, etc.), they better price it at less than $0.99 a track. A fixed-price option, e.g. 1 80-minute CD for $12-$15 might be very popular.

    It's upto Starbucks to use its enormous geographical clout to negotiate a sweetheart deal with the recording industry, and make it as attractive to the customer as possible. Otherwise, with audio-CD only Discmans going the way of the dodo, and the growing popularity of iTMS-like solutions, this scheme will turn out at best to be a novelty.
    • While I agree with most of what you say, I had a couple notes I wanted to make:

      1. On half-terabyte RAID arrays: keep in mind that one can fit 800GB in two 3.5" half-height bays these days. Compressed losslessly, that's a hell of a lot of music. (Based on my own experience with FLAC getting songs to 33-40% of their original size, I'd estimate 3510 full CDs.)

      2. On the content, Starbucks is already pushing a lot of indie or pseudo-indie jazz, blues, and world content. They've got the content to draw on, a
    • Did you forget that Starbucks already has a deal providing T-Mobile hotspots at their locations? They are already primed for this given that infrastructure - play some little cache-forward/Top 30 favorites at this location kinda games to work on low-bandwidth points.

      But then again, since when have they put up locations where there isn't enough traffic to warrant a proper network connection?

      Hell, their almost always close enough to eachother to use mesh networks :)

    • Humbug. Give each Starbucks a reasonably fast Internet connection to the central data warehouse, a reasonably large local storage system for cache (you can buy 200GB drives pretty cheap these days, so 1TB of cache isn't unreasonable), a good lossless audio compression codec, and an LRU algorithm for when the local cache gets full. That would give you 99% of the benefit of storing the entire audio library locally, without the overhead of actually having to download any audio file until the first time a cus
    • It's up to Starbucks to use its enormous geographical clout to negotiate a sweetheart deal with the recording industry, and make it as attractive to the customer as possible.

      If the record industry wants to pee on them, they need to look outside of the RIAA. There's a booming independent recording industry out there just waiting for something like this.

      In the end, set ups like this will wreck the RIAA anyway. The RIAA was set up to sell 40 songs from 20 artists a week on vinyl. There's no way they can

    • I don't see each Starbucks having a half-terabyte RAID array to hold losslessly compressed originals.

      A 0.5TB RAID array costs less than a candybar or soda vending machine.
  • Fantastic, if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:07PM (#9637068)
    ...they give you regular CDs with no dirty DRM tricks. MP3s, and goofey DRM is are deal killers that make me think of McDonald's stupid Bigmac tunes through Sony's DRM and Windoze only SonicStage. I'm sure that's not the image they have in mind. If it won't work in a regular CD player, I no more want it than a Bigmac.

    I hate Starbucks but Schultz and MacKinnon are 100% correct. Here in Baton Rouge we have several shops that purchase, blend and roast their own coffee. Their coffee kicks Starbuck and typically cost less but good music is very attractive. I hate record stores more by a longshot than I hate the home of a second rate $4.00 cup of coffee. A set up like this could make me love them.

    Now, if only they have the guts and brains to get away from RIAA label music, they would be my heros.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone with a computer and broadband can do this at home, already. What will be so special about Starbucks that I would want to burn CDs there instead of in my living room? I suppose if the Kiosks are cheap enough to run they can still be profitable with a small percentage of that market. But I don't see them being a music superstore.

    Michael
  • by geekwench (644364) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:13PM (#9637125)
    This is nothing new for Starbucks.
    Once upon a time, coffee shops sold coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and other drinkables. A few added various sweet pastries, like croissants, but that was about it. Then along comes the post-expansion Sign O' the Mermaid (it was once a little independent coffee shop, too).
    Suddenly, to keep up with the Seattle Menace, coffee shops must now sell all of the above as well as sandwiches, soup, coffee mugs, branded coffee makers, candy, books, gift cards... you get the idea. A small coffee shop that just wants to focus on the core product -- namely, coffee -- has to work hard to establish a niche in the neighborhood or close its doors. Most of them don't want to be multi-specialty retailers, and they shouldn't have to be.
    Starbucks now sells so many things that coffee is almost an afterthought. Think that won't affect the quality of the product? Do a taste-test with Starbucks versus one of the other chains out there. (Personal favorite: Diedrich's.) Even the lightest of Starbucks' roasts (most are pretty dark) comes off tasting acidic and rather burnt.

    So yeah: make room, if you want, alongside the logo-emblazoned travel mugs and Starbucks brand press-pots for "Mermaid Music Vols. 1" through infinity. I'll walk up the street to my local indie coffee shop and get cuppa joe that doesn't taste like muddy battery acid.

    • The problem is that lots of people REALLY like Starbucks coffee.. your opinion is not exactly the average opinion of Starbucks customers.

      The average Starbucks customer visits at least 2 times a week, and spends $5 per visit.

      They love it.
    • Starbucks now sells so many things that coffee is almost an afterthought. Think that won't affect the quality of the product?

      Me standing in line behind 3 people:
      P1: I'd like a [insert complicated espresso drink here]
      S.C.: That will be right up.
      P2: I would like [insert complicated frozen thingy here]
      S.C.: That will be right up, would you like a muffin?
      P3: I would like a [insert even more insanely complicated decaffienated steamed something or other here]
      P3: Oh, and a lo-fat scone
      S.C.: Sure thing [br

      • All that for some weak ass coffee.

        What do you do, dry and smoke the coffee?

        A few weeks ago they were getting attacked here for making it too strong (they brew it double strength). Slashdotters were accusing them of being drug dealers making it stronger to keep the addicts coming back.

        It is the brewed coffee that is stronger; the espresso drinks are mostly milk.
        • What do you do, dry and smoke the coffee?

          A few weeks ago they were getting attacked here for making it too strong (they brew it double strength). Slashdotters were accusing them of being drug dealers making it stronger to keep the addicts coming back.

          Have you tried Peet's Coffee? You'll think Starbucks is weak after that. Peets is a bit strong for me but I know many, many people that like it.

        • A few weeks ago they were getting attacked here for making it too strong

          Not by me, Peet's (many less locations than Starbucks) [peets.com] makes coffee that many can not drink, but for us true connes^H^H^H^H adicts, nuthin' beats it.

          Also, in my somewhat limited experience, the employees at Peet's are a hell of a lot nicer than their other corporate counterparts.

    • make room, if you want, alongside the logo-emblazoned travel mugs and Starbucks brand press-pots for "Mermaid Music Vols. 1" through infinity.

      This could be very cool. I don't have any of their mugs. I hate their coffee and think of them like McDonald's. Heck, I think McDonald's has better coffee. So what? I want non-DRM'd full quality custom CDs and I might even buy a cup of coffee while I'm there.

      I've bought Starbuck's twice. Once because everyone deserves one chance and once because someone gave

    • by hackstraw (262471) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @10:20PM (#9638310)
      Once upon a time, coffee shops sold coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and other drinkables

      Another youngun. I remember when gas stations sold gas and drug stores sold drugs. Walmart was some kind of mart you bought walls from and "Starbuck's" was of or relating to the dude from Battlestar Galactica.
  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:14PM (#9637128)
    Or will the songs be burned from an archive of music that has been lossly compressed (more lossy than a standard CD)? Similar to when you burn downloaded songs from an online service?

    Let these be actual CD quality songs, burned to actual CDs that are playable in any standards-compliant CD player, without DRM or artificial errors or any other insane copy-protection scheme, and I will become a frequent customer. But somehow I don't think the MPAA would allow that. Knowing them, the songs must be crippled in some way, by reduced quality or encryption or both.
  • Not a chance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by silicon not in the v (669585) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:14PM (#9637133) Journal
    You can't even trust Charbucks to not burn their coffee, and that's what they are supposed to be good at. No WAY would they be able to handle a music store.
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:17PM (#9637144)
    who don't have their own MP3 player and/or laptop will probably appreciate this.
  • by danharan (714822) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:23PM (#9637182) Journal
    There are a lot of cafes that are very hip, without the poseur stereotype associated with Starbucks. Many already offer free wireless and/or computer access.

    If this model was easy to implement, a lot of them would probably go for it. Maybe an enterprising slashdotter will take this on?
  • by Zcipher (756241) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:23PM (#9637190)

    I RTFA expecting to come out of it thinking "gee, brand dilution like this usually means the beginning of the end for companies." Instead, I was surprised to end up thinking what a neat idea this could be, if implemented correctly.

    I think I'm probably preaching to the choir here when I say that there are lots of songs out there that I like but so very few full albums that I want to own. Thus, the joy that is P2P and iTMS; combined with a cd burner, all the music I listen to in my car these days is mixed the way I want it to be, and in ways you'll never find on a commercial mix (try finding a CD with Nightwish, E Nomine, and L'Arc en~Ciel on it ^_^). So the idea of a mix cd with actual labelling and even liner notes is naturally fairly appealing. Simply put, it passes the "I'd give it a try" test.

    Three major questions that aren't answered in the article, though, which would be major deciding factors for me:

    • How varied is the selection? The article claims there's lots of tracks and implies that part of the appeal is the fact that it introduces people to lesser known stuff they won't be sold at major retailers, but how obscure are we talking? My main complaint with iTMS has been a lack of foreign music; I want my Nightwish and my Yuki Kajiura, dammit!
    • Are the CDs encumbered with spyware and copy protection? I want none of that garbage, and this would be a good source for legal music (especially if it could be ripped onto my computer in something nice and high bitrate)
    • What format/bitrate are the source tracks stored in? I don't want to make a mix CD only to discover that its source was all 128 kbps wma garbage, especially since, as mentioned above, re-ripping is a big selling point to me (and if it's not over 128 kbps, then since the price/convenience point is worse than iTMS, there's really no point).

    Nevertheless, I think this is a fairly neat idea; the current distribution models for music have left a lot of great stuff behind, so going back to a system where people can get recommendations and such is pretty cool. And the inclusion of the Audiogalaxy-esque "you might also like . . ." feature is just awesome; that was my favorite part of AG, and it's something I sorely miss.

  • by gellenburg (61212) <george@ellenburg.org> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:27PM (#9637215) Homepage Journal
    'Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry.'

    I tend to agree with them. This affluent 25- to 50-year-old (32, actually), pretty much only listens to NPR, but they're missing one important fact in their equation...

    They're assuming I either already, or probably will, visit StarBucks.

    (I've only been to Starbucks twice in my life, and the second time was to give them a 2nd chance. Needless to say: their coffee sucks, costs way too much, and I can brew a better tasting pot for myself right at home.)

    Yes, I'm ignored by the Music Industry, but I've found the iTunes [itunes.com] Music Store, and AllOfMP3 [allofmp3.com] to be viable, and more preferable, alternatives.

    • Agreed, but this sometime-ignored espresso-drinking-NPR-listening-25-50-year-old has discovered that the compilation CDs on sale by the counter (and played on the speakers) often contain music that I wouldn't necessarily have at the top of my music shopping list, and may even have something I've not heard before.

      Mind you, I don't go into Starbucks often (I own my own espresso machine) but when I do, I consider the music a nice bonus. Starbucks also sells newspapers. You can buy the NY Times at any newsta
    • If you're going to use allofmp3, why not just use Usenet? It's generally cheaper.
  • Nup, try again (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cuteseal (794590)
    Personally, I'd go to a coffee shop to drink coffee, and to a music store to burn/buy music. Yes, maybe listen to music, but not buy music. Besides, you already queue up for your coffee - now you want to queue up for your music as well while your coffee goes cold?
  • It is getting harder and harder to hate Starbucks every day. I try, but my will is breaking down. They have so much going for them nowdays:

    - pretty good coffee
    - reasonable prices
    - comfortable atmophere, including good music playing and plenty of room to study

    Now add the fact that they are making an attempt to sell decent music to non-britney-lovers, and I really have to hand it to them. They know how to wooo a customer.
    • Re:starbucks (Score:3, Informative)

      Reasonable prices? A $4.00 cup of coffee is reasonable? LMAO

      Don't get me wrong, I often stop by for a Vite Mocha. And sometimes feel like a sucker, But hey I like the stuff!

      • Reasonable prices? A $4.00 cup of coffee is reasonable? LMAO

        Ummm, maybe they just really like me there, but I dont think I have ever paid more than 2.50 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and the largest size (whatever the italian word for that is) nearly comes in a bucket.
      • It's more like $1.50 for a 16oz cup of freshly brewed coffee. You don't have to get the venti quaduple shot vanilla extra-hot white chocolate soy mocha.
    • not to mention decent service. Local shops with hipsters wearing ironic t-shirts behind the counter tend to sneer, whereas the starbucks folks actually know my name, my brew, and give me free drinks now and then.

      And I dont go in everyday. Only once or twice a week.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:30PM (#9637240)
    I can not put one in my iPod. And if I don't lose or scratch it on the way home, I get to manually enter each track title.

    They should offer a) 128Kbps CBR MP3 downloads over their wireless connection and b) business card-sized mini-CDs with a copy of the above. Sure both record companies and audiophiles will riot, but that's what 99% of customers want and use. Whoever wants to make money selling music better take notice.
  • > the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry

    Ignored isn't the right word.
    "Persecuted" is closer...
    "Prosecuted", that's it, "prosecuted" is the right word.

  • by CHaN_316 (696929) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:42PM (#9637342)
    I think Starbucks can increase their revenue by following Monkey Island 4's lead. They should open a Starbuccaneer's which caters to today's modern pirates (y'arr). They could offer free p2p services inside which will allow mighty pirates to steal games, movies, and music!

    Screenshots of the Starbuccaneer's concepts available here [heise.de] and here [cdmag.com].

    I'm sure Starbucks can buy the licence to use Starbuccaneer's pretty easily.
  • by genesplicer (314591) <sbuttars AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:43PM (#9637345)
    Up here in the land of Tim Horton's, Ron James (a stand-up comic) jokes that he "likes to go to a Starbucks once in a while to see what the world would be like if the Nazis had won the war."
    Might this music distribution idea further their aims??
    Hail Mermaid!
  • by Micah (278)
    I just bought some put options on Starbucks' stock. This can't be good....
  • When I was in high school in the late '80s, I worked at the mall at Record Town, a brand that has been replaced now. Back then they were owned by Trans-World music, and were the penultimate example of the overpriced, middle American record store.

    We had this gizmo for a while, before CDs fully supplanted cassettes, and before burnable CDs were de rigeur (I believe Philips was holding the patent, and the record industry cartel was trying to block them from releasing it...sound familiar?). Anyway, it ba

  • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @09:26PM (#9638015)
    allowing customers to choose the songs they like in a relaxed environment
    Do they know what Starbucks sells?
  • it closed up after several months...somthing about serving burned coffee...
    Too bad , it sounded like a neat place to take my cable car double mocha and hang out :)
  • just use the Starbucks Wi-Fi connection to log in to iTunes (or some other online music store) to snag the music they want?

    It seems to me that the target demographic are the same sort of people who are slightly ahead of the general population in tech adoption and are also the same people who would eschew CDs as being passe.

    I'm sure these guys have done their homework, but this sounds to me like a project that was initiated before the iTunes music store showed that pay-per-download music really could wor

  • 'Schultz and MacKinnon came to believe that the core Starbucks customer, an affluent 25- to 50-year-old who's likelier to be tuned in to NPR than to MTV or one of the nine gazillion radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., probably feels ignored by the music industry.'

    I'm a 33-year old, relatively affluent, NPR listening (WNKU) Starbuck's customer (I have a First Edition Duetto Card). All I have to say is that I feel quite ignored by commercial radio.
  • by NeilO (20628) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @10:24PM (#9638338)
    I recently stopped by Hear Music and saw all this stuff in person.

    The listening kiosks are HP Tablet PCs running (presumably) Windows XP. They are placed throughout the store and default to a selection of albums pulled from that section, i.e. in the blues section you get a handful of blues albums to preview. In the jazz section it's a handful of jazz albums, etc. Just as you would expect.

    However, at any listening station you can scan the barcode on just about any CD in the store, and get a playlist of the complete contents of that album. The delay is noticeably longer than waiting for a CD changer, but obviously you have *way* more material to choose from. (Changing from song to song within a given album seems slower than hitting "next" on a CD player, which is a bit annoying, but surely they can fix that.)

    There's a sit-down counter where you can build your mix. I was in a hurry and didn't ask the obvious questions, e.g. how much for a custom mix disc, do you get uncompressed or lossy compressed, is there any copy protection. I did notice two Rimage CD sitting in plain view behind the counter.

    I've always liked the "smallness" of Hear Music compared to a behemoth like Tower Records. The feel is more like Newbury Comics in Boston (or how they used to be, anyways). The use of technology is a little raw and immature, but in general it seems to work without ruining the small store feel. Just my opinion, of course.

  • Oh please, please, try patenting this idea! I wrote up such a beast in 1997, going as far as having a working demo burnstation in Visual Basic and ISAPI (or whatever the old pre-CGI Windows thing was called...)

    It's archived in comments on slashdot (search for it... I'm being lazy!) and I've even received email years later (last year, actually) from someone who saw my idea posted somewhere and wanted some details.

    This isn't new... it's certainly not "Starbucks The Innovator", but hey, if someone's letting
  • by djupedal (584558)
    'This August, Starbucks will install individual music-listening stations, with CD-burning capabilities - ?

    How yesterday is that? Give me a way to upload to my iPod instead and I'm in.

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