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Last week I saw that your artist pick compilations were replaced with Madeline Peyroux, John Legend and Beck. BECK? Hey wait a minute,
I was thinking. Street date is not till NEXT week.
GUEST COMMENTARY:
A VENTI FROM VANCLEAVE
CIMS Prez Tells Starbucks to Wake Up
and Smell the Coffee
Wednesday afternoon, the outspoken and ever-quotable President of the Coalition of Independent Music StoresDon VanCleave, mass emailed an open letter castigating Starbucks on a pair of issues that presently have indie retailers up in arms. What follows is the entire text of that letter.

Dear Starbucks,

Hey guys. I actually think it is a great thing for you to be actively selling new releases. You have the right kind of customers that are a dream to those who are marketing music to adults. I mean, how many copies of the recent Ray Charles did you actually sell? 500,000? 600,000? That is really a powerful testament to your marketing savvy and shows a really great understanding of your core customer. This industry needs more outlets selling music at a profit. Good job.

When I travel, which is usually every week, I often slip into your stores because I am assured of a really strong wireless signal that lets me stay in touch. I know that I should really shop Indie since that is my job, but, sometimes you are just so damned right on the corner I am on. I usually will buy a Venti coffee of the day with room for cream, fire up the laptop, and spend 30 minutes dealing with firedrills.

One thing I started noticing over the past few weeks were your attractive browser racks for compact discs. Usually they are stocked with your artist pick compilations which are excellent. Last week I saw that those were replaced with Madeline Peyroux, John Legend and Beck. BECK? Hey wait a minute, I was thinking. Street date is not till NEXT week. And almost instantly, the cell and BlackBerry started blowing up. Indie store owners were losing their minds. Don, Starbucks is breaking street date on my most important release of the first quarter!!!! SHIT, another firedrill.

After some frantic phone calls and emails to Interscope, UMVD, and Beck's management team, I was assured that everyone was on it. Seems that the Starbucks stores got their Beck product all sealed up with a clear sticker that said DO NOT SELL UNTIL MARCH 29. I guess when you have thousands of stores in the US and you get them into a new business, snafu's are bound to happen. Some managers can't read. Some managers just don't care to read. I get it.

As of Friday, the problem seemed contained. But, then the questions started. How did Starbucks get their product so damn early? How come some indies did not have Beck even yesterday, which was streetdate? How many did they sell? Are they SoundScan? Will Beck show up in this Wednesday's chart?

While I am chatting with you, I also have to say that your Alanis plan is not very cool. You showed the world how badass you are in moving units with the Ray Charles. Securing yourself a six-week window of exclusivity on the Alanis before everyone else gets it is only gonna make you a moving target. The Ray model was correct. The Alanis is not.

So, Starbucks, welcome to the music industry spotlight. If I am an artist manager or a product manager with an artist that you choose to push, I would be a happy camper. But, you have to be careful to play by the rules and not piss off the rest your retail partners. Then, instead of being seen as a GOOD thing for the industry, you just become a big ugly bully like Best Buy.

Love,

Don

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