Starbucks Music Might Be A Success After All

from the then-again,-maybe-not dept

Michael Shipp (Xueilonox) writes “Everyone thought the ridiculous price of CDs would hinder the success of Starbucks music stores. Ray Charles latest CD owes a lot of its success to Starbucks. Since it’s behind the wall, I also wrote a post.” There’s actually a bit more to this story, so it’s not so clear that Starbucks’ music is a success story. In this case, it was an actual CD that they were selling in stores. These are the CDs that they have playing in the background and have a stack on the counter as you check out. Such CDs have done quite well in retail settings including Starbucks, Pottery Barn and other modern retailers. That’s quite different from setting up a computer kiosks with expensive songs to download and burn to a CD. So, this type of success doesn’t necessarily translate to the other kind. In fact, previous Starbucks’ albums (usually mixes) have done quite well in the past too.

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Comments on “Starbucks Music Might Be A Success After All”

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RJD says:

Makes Sense

Actually makes sense. Starbucks gets lots of foot traffic so if ‘good’ music is playing why not pick it up ? Given that radio these days (FM) is generally top 40 or ‘classic rock’ or ’80’s’ .. it’s harder and harder to be exposed to be a broad selection of music without going out and looking for it. Most folks , I believe, would rather have the music find them rather than actively seek it out themselves. Takes to much time and effort.

Other than people recommending music to me (and usually pretty bad recommendations), hearing something at a music store or a borders/starbucks is more often than not how I run across a new act worth exploring.

Starbucks probably works well because even though the age/race/sex of the customer is widely different, there is a general commonality of paying extra for the atmosphere and coffee. These are good consumer types with money seeking out a coffee shop atmosphere which gives them a reasonable shot of targetting the ‘right’ music for them.

There aren’t many places where this kind of thing would work but Starbucks makes sense.

steve russell says:


The point that selling prepackaged CDs versus making your own CD at the point of sale is not the same thing is a good one. The two transactions are addressing different needs. The impulse to buy the latest CD from Ray Charles is made in a minute. The decision to “make a CD” is a by product of another “impulse” opportunity that Starbucks has created, namely the opportunity to sit down with your cup of coffee and instead of reading the paper choosing to “listen to music”. This FREE listening experience sets up the “make a CD” purchase. A customer who takes the time to discover and listen to the music on the system is invited to save the song to a burn list. This is a simple “click” decision. The next step is more dramatic, the actual decision to purchase what you have taken the trouble to create. Starbucks is flipping traditional retail logic on its head. It provides the customer with the valued experience up front for free and counts on a percentage to want to “retain the experience” by paying for it after the fact. As the most famous practitioner of “delivering the customer experience” Starbucks is well positioned to validate the CD burning at retail model. The fact that they have committed to an additional 45 stores in 2004 is a sign that their judgement must be supported by the early results.

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