Starbucks has booted the head of its entertainment group, and is handing over management duties for its record business to Concord Music Group. Depending on which version of the story you read, this either “underscores Starbucks’s interest in pursuing sales of music and other products online” (NYT) or that “entertainment ended up being a distraction for the company and helped it lose focus on coffee” (WSJ).
But in either case, it’s clear that in-store music sales, once one of Howard Schultz’s big ideas for the company, are getting shelved. A couple of years ago, Starbucks was being lauded as a new player in the business after it helped sell lots of copies of a Ray Charles album, but that was about the high point. Last spring, the company made a lot of noise after signing Paul McCartney to an exclusive deal. Then it found out that you can sell people a $4 cup of coffee, but you can’t force them to buy an ageing Beatle’s new music.
Now that it’s having a harder time selling that $4 cup of coffee, it has more pressing issues to deal with.
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