When I worked at Star Sporting Goods Hank, the owner, told me to NEVER show a customer more than two ski boots.  For, if I did, they’d become confused, indecisive, and wind up walking out empty-handed.

The customer is overwhelmed with choice.  The sales pitch/marketing assault is so overwhelming they don’t partake.  My TV-addicted friends no longer watch the new shows.  They wait for the scuttlebutt.  To tell them what’s good.  With six networks and a horrible failure rate it takes too much of a time investment, most of it wasted, to check things out for yourself.  They want someone to do the work for them, to point them in the right direction!

It’s no different in the music sphere.  The major labels are under the impression that it’s a mainstream business.  That everybody’s paying attention.  But most of the public does not watch MTV and terrestrial music radio stations are dropping like flies.  And the endless marketing stunts are seen as such.  Nobody believes an act is on the "Today Show" because they’re good.  When an act whores itself out in a commercial the sell-out is transparent.  It’s not endearing to the audience, oh, they might embrace a catchy tune, but they reject the act as not worthy of their trust.  Trust.  That’s what it comes down to.  And Starbucks has its audience’s trust.

And Starbucks manages this trust.

Starbucks isn’t Whole Foods.  Purveying a handful of CDs at the checkout counter.  One does not believe Whole Foods selected each and every album.  It’s just another profit center.  But, the Starbucks consumer believes that somebody at the company is looking out for THEM!  Realizes they don’t have much time.  That they need to know what’s great right away, INSTANTLY!  Perform a service for me, turn me on to great new stuff, save me time and I’ll give you ALL my money.  I mean it’s not like Starbucks is selling the CDs at a discount.

Starbucks gives their customer the impression that each CD is hand-picked.  And worth their attention.  To the point where even if you purchase a loser, you’re not disillusioned.  Hell, who hasn’t bought a CD they’ve only played once.  Sex isn’t good every time, you don’t give up after a bad experience.  But sex is best when done on a continuing basis with a faithful partner.  Music isn’t quite sex, but it’s the second best thing.  You’re looking for a partner.  We all want partners.  To journey through this life with.

The indie retailers provide a different function.  They’re like your favorite deli counter man.  They sell everything, but they tell you what’s good.  Only one problem, record stores are so seventies.  They require a special trip.  And it takes repeat visits to establish rapport with the help.  Who are oftentimes intimidating.  Whereas Starbucks HAS no face.  The baristas just serve the coffee.  They don’t dispense musical advice.  Everything’s been pre-selected.  And sold to you at a place you were visiting anyway.

I don’t think most of Starbucks’ clientele is aware that the Rolling Stones have a new album out.  They tuned out the Stones eons ago.  Oh, they might go to a show, but all the recent shitty records and the endless sales pitches have turned them off.  But, if STARBUCKS is involved, then IT MUST BE GOOD!  It must be worth paying attention to.  It must be worth BUYING!

Yup, all that Stones hype has done nothing for "A Bigger Bang".  The appearance of the music in that soap opera is so NINETIES!  When it was about multiple impressions.  Now it’s not about multiple impressions, but a SINGLE impression.  ONE trusted person must tell you THIS IS THE SHIT!

Starbucks is the new gatekeeper.  Get your record in there, and it will sell.  Just look at Antigone Rising.  In conventional retail that record wouldn’t have broken 5,000, whereas in Starbucks it sold TENS OF THOUSANDS OF COPIES!

That’s the story of the twenty first century.  Trusted filters.  Get your product endorsed by someone with the public’s trust.  THEN you’ll sell records.

Rolling Stones Team Up With Starbucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Coffee giant Starbucks Corp. and Virgin Records are co-releasing a CD of rare Rolling Stones remixes, B-sides and hard-to-find live recordings, the band announced on its Web site Wednesday.

”Rarities: 1971-2003” will be released in Starbucks stores and in other retail outlets in the United States and Canada on Nov. 22.

The coffee company’s music arm, Starbucks Hear Music, worked with the record label and the veteran British rockers to comb through the band’s extensive archives.

Among the 16 tracks: a cover of Chuck Berry’s ”Let it Rock,” originally released as a B-side to the 1971 single ”Brown Sugar,” and alternate takes of several of the band’s biggest hits, including live versions of ”Tumbling Dice,” ”Wild Horses” and ”Beast of Burden,” and a dance remix of ”Miss You.”

”With every studio session, there are always songs that never appear on the final album and at the time you think, `What a shame that song did not make it,”’ Mick Jagger said.

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