Starbucks brews up a record label

By Katie Clark
March 29, 2007

Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT

Concord Music has found a new partner within the music industry. On Monday March 12, Starbucks Coffee announced it will be creating its own music label. It will develop new records that will be sold in its world-wide chain of coffeehouses and in some traditional retailers.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Starbucks is a Seattle-based world-wide coffee chain. It is a small company but a profitable unit. The company oversees the sale of music and books in the stores. It also has a Hear Music radio station on the XM satellite radio.

Hear Music, Los-Angeles-based, is the label to which Starbucks will be signing artists and selling records. Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, will take on management of the new label. His main partner will be Glen Barros, Concord president. Lombard will be reporting to a management committee made up of officials from both companies.

Concord music has helped Starbucks in the past by being a co-producer with the success of the Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” album. The album won eight Grammy awards. Now Concord will also help promote, distribute and market the Hear Music label outside of Starbucks.

Starbucks has not said whether or not the label has signed any artists. It does have plans for its first album however. The plan is to have the new album of former Beatle, Paul McCartney, signed by Hear Music. It is welcoming any emerging or established musicians to be signed by it also.

Starbucks has decided to start its own music label for a number of reasons, one being that they had success in the past with some of their music. Another reason behind this decision is because Starbucks has been extending its company beyond just coffee. In the recent years, it has brought in music, books and even a movie to its company. “But music always has been close with what Starbucks sees as the identity of its brand, even though it remains a relatively small business,” Dan Geiman, an analyst with McAdams Wright Regen, said in a USA Today report. Another reason for the new label in Starbucks is the fact the Starbucks reaches 44 million customers each week. So it is a good way in selling music.

Even through all these reasons of having a Starbucks label, the public is questioning the new organization. Many people feel that Starbucks is starting an unnecessary company just to make more money.

“I think this is ridiculous. Starbucks is already crazy with its prices on coffee, and already well-known and established. Why does it need to take on the music industry too,” Lauren Grassi, a sophomore social work major, said. Starbucks is portrayed as one of the wealthier coffeehouses among many. Many people feel as if Starbucks are being greedy and selfish.

Another question is, how much does Starbucks really know about the music industry? Sure, it has the coffeehouse original sound, but what coffeehouse doesn’t.

“They think Paul McCartney is going to attract people to its music, but in reality that is only going to attract the older crowd,” Kelly Devlin, a sophomore education major, said. Starbucks’ audience is more of the young adults. Many people think if its going to come out with a label, it should at least get newer and more popular artists on its label if it wants to make it big.

“The music industry is one of the hardest fields to get big in, does Starbucks really think they have that experience?” Bridget McNulty, a sophomore history education major, said.

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Katie Clark

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