The Starbucks Story

Funny how this didn’t make the "Rumor Mill" at hitsdailydouble. Someone at Starbucks or Concord must be paying Dennis and Lenny, so they get a pass. But Lyor Cohen does not. Isn’t it funny that they beat up that guy EVERY DAY and he gets re-upped? If you’re wondering about their power… It’s even less significant than Edgar and Lyor’s, and theirs isn’t too great either.

One thing Lyor’s convinced me of, he doesn’t give a shit about the "Hits" guys. He’s done with that business. Is Lyor any good? Shit, I don’t know. All I do know is he’s given up the rat race. He wants to sign a very few magnificent acts to 360 deals and be a successful niche player. That wasn’t his term, niche. But he wasn’t focused on world domination… That’s Universal’s game. A lumbering dinosaur that based on market share believes it rules the music business. Hey Doug Morris and Zach Horowitz, if you continue to make music free by using the RIAA to keep the business model in the twentieth century, what difference does it make what assets you control? If Universal was smart, it would monetize P2P, stop acting like the most powerful Mafia family in an era of RICO triumphs. I mean what is the Universal endgame? To make music free and therefore help establish a boatload of new players, not burdened by their business model? Newbies who don’t worry about monetizing recorded music, but make money on the road, and sell merch and one of a kind memorable disc packages? (And maybe live shows too?)

Bottom line, the majors have lost all power. The CD continues to die. Nearly fifty percent of teenagers didn’t even buy a CD last year according to an L.A. "Times" story

And everyone knows that the iTunes Store is not a disc replacement. So, you’re going to follow the dinosaurs off the cliff, to extinction?

Did you read Jeff Leeds’ story on Starbucks’ CD sales? Bottom line, the terms are onerous and very few CDs are sold. Maybe superstars like Alicia Keys can move product based on a shitload of media hype, but newbies… Starbucks isn’t even INTERESTED in newbies! The money’s not fast enough.

Furthermore, they’re only selling two CDs a day per store. That’s so piss poor, it doesn’t even deserve comment. You know if it was untrue, Starbucks would have proffered the real figures. But even if the real figure isn’t two, it’s got to be close, otherwise Starbucks would be up in arms.

The guys who ran HEAR Music had a new idea. A way to break indie acts. When they opened their store on the Santa Monica Mall, I discovered Catie Curtis. Do you know the song "My Dad’s Yard"? Get that and "Radical" from the original HEAR CD, not the subsequent EMI disc that drains the magic. She’s lost her way a bit since, but that shit was classic. And Bill Morrissey, I discovered him too. Because HEAR was cool, they explained why you would like something, they encouraged sampling. Now all Starbucks does is put on their imprimatur. Which now represents the stamp of a failing overpriced coffee chain peopled by beings you hate. If Starbucks was an act, it would be the Starland Vocal Band. Oh, you remember "Afternoon Delight". Not even A Flock Of Seagulls. They were hipper longer than Starbucks’ music division. And yes, all the references must be OLD bands, because selling CDs is an OLD BUSINESS MODEL!

Starbucks isn’t interested in expanding minds, just the bottom line. Otherwise, they’d be giving away MP3s, sponsoring tours, investing. Rather, they just want to cherry-pick. As Gary Borman says, on no longer favorable terms.

Or, as Freddie Mercury once sang, "Another One Bites The Dust". Another false hope, another savior, has been exposed to be no different from those that preceded. At least the proprietors of indie stores are hip, they’re just merchandising a dying product.

Do you feel the giant vacuum? Maybe you can’t hear the sucking sound, but it’s hard not to scratch one’s head and wonder what the future will bring. All these oldsters, fighting over a shrinking pie, angry at everybody for the death of their business model. Do you really think they’ve got answers?

The major labels lost control of the game years back. Doug and Zach think they’re steering, but they’re not. The kids are steering. Whether it be the ones stealing the product or those truly investing in new bands, not by seeking endorsements and appearing at clusterfucks, but by building audiences far from the radar screen.

I’d like to tell you how it all plays out. But I’d be a shithead to tell you I know. But I do know that in the future, everybody will own a lot of music. They’ll eventually pay for it, when the majors stop trying to hold back the future, stop trying to make people consume music their way. And, I’m sure new entrepreneurs will succeed David Geffen and Irving Azoff, never mind Doug Morris and Clive Davis. And these new entrepreneurs will be more nimble, because unlike the present label employees, their money will be on the line. And they won’t be burdened by history, they’ll do stuff none of the established players would contemplate or authorize. And the heart and soul of their operations will be the music. Not the looks, not the sell, not the infrastructure. The music will grow the infrastructure, just like it did with Phish and the Dave Matthews Band. But in the future, the world will have many more Phishes and DMBs. And a few vapid superstars sold by the remnants of the major labels.

Does This Latte Have a Funny Mainstream Taste to You?

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