The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Coffee chain forms label for up-and-coming artists

Starbucks places quotes on their recycled cups to inspire the minds and hearts of consumers. They also sell music to “inspire the soul.” But Starbucks is now taking a step further into their music plans.

Starbucks and Concord Music Group joined efforts to create Hear Music, a Los Angeles-based music label, and plan to release their first album by the end of this year, but the artist has not yet been revealed.

“I think Starbucks felt this was the next evolution with their relationship,” Starbucks representative Allison Elbl said. “They had a solid relationship with Concord. Since 2004 they have a proven track record for success, particularly with (the CD release of) Ray Charles. It made a lot of sense for them.”

Starbucks and Concord began working together in 1999. “Hear Music Volume,” the first CD release, was introduced in the United States and Canada in 2000. Starbucks has sold a variety of compilation discs with different solo artists. The successful business relationship bloomed when Starbucks sold CDs of artists such as the late Ray Charles and Brazilian artist Sergio Mendez.

Hear Music plans to sign established artists as well as up-and-coming musicians. The goal is to support creativity and to “encourage musicians to stretch and take risks.” Hear Music wants to help develop artists.

“Many artists want to go mainstream, but they might not have the chance to,” said Hyung Woo Lim, CSUN senior music major. “This can be a lifetime opportunity.”

Overall record sales are down because of digital downloading and the future of the CD as a medium is uncertain.

“I’ve seen the (in-store) music display (but) I’ve never seen someone buy a CD,” Lim said. “Maybe people might buy music, but these days buying music is down.”

But the publicity Starbucks can place on an item cannot go ignored.

“If (Starbucks) helps out bands that want to rise, then I think it’s really good,” said Hugo Sandaval, a senior Liberal Arts studies major.

Starbucks was able to rake up sales of more than $5.5 million worldwide of Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company,” a collection of duets by the late artist was was awarded eight Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.

Sergio Mendes, another artist that Starbucks and Concord co-released. Mendes’ “Timeless” was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Urban and Alternative Performance and won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album of the Year. “Timeless” features from the Black Eyed Peas, and collaborations with John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott.

“They’ve worked with different labels,” Elbl said. “They had tremendous success and this cemented their relationship.”

Music Hear is looking for “unique and compelling artists” in a wide range of genres that can appeal to the most audience members.

There are unconfirmed rumors circulating that the next artist to be released on Music Hear will be ex-Beatles member Paul McCartney.

Starbucks has more than 13,000 locations in 39 countries and more than 44 million costumers a week, according to Associated Press.

Because Starbucks has gained a large number of loyal consumers that visit their stores on a regular basis, efforts to promote CDs, the so-called dying medium, might bring sales back to the music industry.

Starbucks has also ventured into the business of books and movies.

Starbucks may feel their highly successful business model will equal success in CD sales, but many have expressed doubts about the intentions behind bringing music sales into coffee shops.

“It sounds to me like they’re in it just for the profit,” Lim said.

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