Monday, March 17, 2008

Starbucks turns out to be money-making business

There's a curious piece in the New York Times which bemoans Starbuck's increasing range of CDs for sale, and the consequential mainstreaming of taste:

[T]he ardor for Starbucks has gone the way of yesterday morning’s grounds. Critics in the music industry say the company squandered its cachet by mismanaging the effort to broaden its music mix. The choices that reflect its early taste for the offbeat — like an album from Lizz Wright, a torchy pop singer — are now squeezed in with offerings not unlike those at Wal-Mart, including the latest releases from Alicia Keys and James Blunt. The shift has not been lost on some customers.

Poor old James Blunt, eh? Even The New York Times pokes him with a stick.

Is it really surprising, though? Starbucks is so keen to shore up its bottom line its exploring the idea of a 'value' blend of coffee - if it's happy to sell undrinkable coffee, is it really surprising the chain will also sell unlistenable music?

Still, there's some interesting statistics included in the piece, not least this:
Despite adopting a broader musical approach, Starbucks on average sells only two CDs a store each day at company-owned shops, according to people briefed on its business. Starbucks disputed that figure but declined to provide a different one.

We're not sure that's so surprising - after all, it's primarily a coffee shop, and we'd imagine that a lot of the stores sell no CDs at all (the ones which are sited to serve the grab-and-glug market) - and it's got over 30,000 stores, which still translates as a lot of CDs being sold. We'd actually like to see how well its free track-of-the-day download promotion at the end of last year did.