Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, December 08, 2021

What can we expect for the future of popular music, now that Grammy-nominated “Genius Loves Company” by Ray Charles et al can attribute its success to big-time sales at Starbucks outlets?

“How long does it take to make a drink? In 3 1/2 minutes you can hear most of any song on ‘Genius Loves Company’ in its entirety, so perhaps that’s the sweet spot,” [record producer John] Burke said, chuckling. “Three-and-a-half minutes. That’s our new criteria for making albums.”

Lovely. But on the plus side, they can market extended-mix tracks as specialized “Grande Singles", or whatever pseudo-Italian names they use for their cup sizes.

I recall reading about plans by the coffee kingpin to branch out into music sales as a solid side revenue stream. That’s seemingly well underway:

In Seattle and Austin, Texas, some Starbucks are experimenting with kiosks that allow customers to peruse a selection of 200,000 songs and pick and choose tracks for a tailored CD that is produced on the spot and paid for via the swipe of a credit card. The company has said it plans to put the CD burners in 2,500 stores in the next few years.

And it has announced an aggressive expansion that would set as its goal 30,000 stores worldwide - triple its international total today. That could make Starbucks a heftier player in music retail, a sector that has been shriveling in recent years.

Starbucks’ Hear Music also launched a channel this year on the XM Satellite Radio network, and a Hear Music Coffeehouse - with 68 music listening stations - opened in Santa Monica in March.

The brand has won credibility, Burke said, especially with adults who do not feel well-served by youth-skewing radio and have hectic schedules that make it difficult to stay up on music trends or carve out time to meander through the aisles of music stores.

That last part is the most critical. Like many new-style retailers, Starbucks is all about producing an allegedly full-fledged retail experience. They must be doing a good job of it, judging by the number of people constantly hanging out in their stores. Music is a crucial part of creating that environment, and making it available for easy acquisition (purchase) is the next natural step.

This would spell trouble for traditional music stores, if they were actually marketing toward the older-skewing demographic that Starbucks is targeting here. But by and large, the stores go after younger consumers, who are more likely to drop more money on hit-oriented music; so really, I don’t see how it’s having an effect there.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/08/2021 09:16:33 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Business | Permalink |

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