I was shocked this summer when walking down 3rd Street in Santa Monica I bumped into the Starbucks Hear Music store. It was a combination of Java + A 2007 version of an old school record store. You know Ameoba, Penny Lane, George’s Music Room, Rhino, the classic retailers I now miss. Greeting me was the over zealous music expert who was also the store manager. He explained to me the ability I had to make my own CD and custom jacket. I felt really good about the music efforts of Starbucks and now know why we get excited updates from Guy Primus (Starbucks) on all his deals he is creating for the music programs.
Starbucks Entertainment President Ken Lombard commented this week that Starbucks is still a coffee company but also mentioned that they are actually making money in music. Lombard’s label Hear Music signed Paul McCartney and cites 45% of his sales are coming thru Starbucks retail locations. Whatever is going on right now is making Lombard look like a genius, as Hear Music is the sexiest thing going on in alternative music distribution options. Lombard though not largely known as a “record guy” spent several years running the Magic Johnson business. He was the “point guard” behind the Hall Of Fame point guard, helping to build him into a powerhouse business machine. Being in the middle of the Howard Schultz-Magic-Starbucks relationship I’m sure made him an easy “poach” for Starbucks Corp. I’m sure no one is complaining as all are printing money together now. Go Starbucks, change the game!