Given the whole "Starbucks losing its soul" debate, I'll bet Starbucks'
Starbucks said that it will launch its own record label with Concord Music Group, under the Hear Music name. It will distribute the recordings not only in Starbucks stores, but also through traditional music channels. Bear in mind that Hear Music already has some pretty powerful relationships in music, including a special entertainment section on Apple's
The Hear Music label, according to Starbucks' press release, will embrace emerging artists and established acts alike. Starbucks said the Hear Music label will be an advocate for artists' creative control, while encouraging them to take risks.
That's arguably a departure from music-industry heavyweights such as Warner Music Group
But here's the big question of the day: What about Starbucks' brand? I'm sure many people would argue that a music label is a risky swerve off the coffee giant's main turf. However, when it comes to its media distribution, Starbucks seems to be treading carefully thus far, choosing content that doesn't conflict with its brand. As long as folks think its options are special, I don't see anything wrong with Starbucks trying to put some "good taste" into taste-making. Meanwhile, sophisticated choices that appeal to certain niches, as opposed to mainstream blockbuster hits, will differentiate the java giant from rivals like McDonald's
This move isn't risk-free; businesses that diverge from their core competencies can make some dangerous mistakes. However, as long as Starbucks proceeds with prudence and makes sure it's pushing quality talent, a Hear Music label could help breathe more life into its lifestyle brand.
Pour yourself a little extra Foolishness:
XM Satellite Radio is a former Rule Breakers recommendation.