Sure, you've seen Starbucks tie its name to CD releases before. The java giant has had a hand in unearthing early recordings of Bob Dylan, Sergio Mendes, and Ray Charles. It even teamed up with Warner Music Group
It's different this time, though. McCartney is an established legend, and this will be the former Beatle's first CD of all-new material since 2005 brought us Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. It's also the first release from the Hear Music label, which was formed earlier this month.
Hear the difference
Starbucks has had more than a passing interest in music and the Hear Music brand in recent years. Hear Music has been a staple on the XM Satellite Radio
As conventional CD shops like Tower are shuttered, lifestyle concepts that bring something new to the listening table, as Hear Music does, are rising from the ashes of perpetually falling compact-disc sales. If you can't move a $12 CD, a $3 espresso with a $5 slice of cheesecake will have to do.
This doesn't mean restaurants and retail merchandising are joined at the hip. If that were the case:
- Planet Hollywood would still be a force in themed dining.
- Johnny Rockets would have its tableside jukeboxes connected to a CD-burning hub where customized oldies CD could be purchased.
- There would be such a thing as the Best Buy Burger.
This also doesn't mean that the sheer girth of Starbucks alone can muscle a new product to higher ground. If that were the case:
- Antigone Rising would be more of a household name.
- Chantico would be still be flowing freely.
- Akeelah and the Bee would have been a bigger hit.
Sting like a spelling bee
Oh, yes, that movie. A year ago, Starbucks got together with Lions Gate Films
Yet at the end of its theatrical run, Akeelah generated a meager $18.8 million in domestic box-office receipts. That's fewer than 3 million tickets. So as big and persuasive as Starbucks may appear to be, most of the country seems to have chosen not to see the movie.
Will McCartney fare better? You bet. This is all-new material. He's not simply going to rerecord "Silly Love Songs" as "Silly Latte Orders," or "Maybe I'm Amazed" as "Mocha I'm Unfazed." And even though I'm sure McCartney wouldn't want this form of publicity, his testy split with Heather Mills is generating a good deal of media attention for the seasoned rocker.
In short, the timing couldn't be better. It's taken as few as 60,000 to 65,000 units sold in a week to propel a CD to the top of the stateside charts. The CD will be sold through traditional retail outlets as well as through Starbucks stores. Think about that. There were more than 9,400 U.S. Starbucks locations at the start of the year. If each store sold just one copy a day during the CD's first week, Starbucks alone may propel McCartney to the top.
So despite some of its shortcomings, let's also not underestimate the power of Starbucks. Jones Soda
Live and let roast, my friends. Live and let roast.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can actually walk to two Starbucks locations from his home, but he's still not much of a coffee sipper. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.