Starbucks & HP To Offer Music Downloads

Imagine this scenario: Youire cruising on a Saturday morning, and you stop by your local Starbucks. You walk up to the counter and say, "Iid like a tall, half-caf latte, and the Blood, Sweat, and Tears Greatest Hits album to go, please."

While sipping on your latte, you whip out your wireless laptop, connect to Starbucksi music download service, and get your album. While you are there you check out Nelly Furtadois new album, and maybe listen to your favorite Classical piece; Vivaldiis "The Four Seasons." Could life be sweeter?

According to BusinessWeek, the above scenario may occur soon. Starbucks, with the help of Hewlett Packard, will be selling music along with their cappuccinos via a unique service that is bound to turns some heads, even at Apple.

From the article:

BusinessWeek has learned that on Mar. 16,?the Seattle coffee giant will unveil an in-store music service allowing customers to do just that, using Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) tablet computers to make their choices. The first musical Starbucks opens in Santa Monica, Calif., and the service will expand into 2,500 stores over the next two years. "This is not a test," says Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. "Weire going for it.ii

Known for taking innovative risks, this is Starbucksi boldest attempt to redefine "the Starbucks experience" since it pushed overseas in the mid i90s. Company execs say the effort is aimed at capitalizing on the forces revamping the music-retailing industry, where advances in digital-music technology push customers onto the Internet, and traditional brick-and-mortar record stores struggle to survive.


... Starbucks foresees its music-customer base centered among middle-age javaholics, many of whom donit even go to music stores, let alone download songs. Prices will be comparable to Appleis (AAPL ) iTunes service: US$6.99 for five songs, the minimum purchase. Albums will cost US$12.95. To appeal to a younger set, Starbucks will ultimately offer wireless downloads to laptops or portable players.

Starbucks execs also tout this as an opportunity to introduce people to new and more obscure music and artists. At the very least, being able to listen or buy music in a Starbucks caf? will enhance the companyis core business and keep customers coming back. "The time it takes you to order a latte, you could have any CD burned on demand for you,ii says Don McKinnon, vice-president for music and entertainment for Starbucks. "Thatis truly transformative and unlocks for so many people a need thatis not being served -- making it easier to learn about music, easier to get it, and easier to create your own compilations.ii

The article is an interesting read so stop by BusinessWeek Online for the full account.