Hear Music

Hear Music
Parent company Concord Music Group and Starbucks
Founded 1990 (as catalog company)
2007 (2007) (as record label)
Distributor(s) Concord Music Group
Genre Various
Country of origin U.S.
Official website Official site
Starbucks' second Hear Music Coffeehouse at the South Bank development adjacent to the River Walk.

Hear Music is the brand name of Starbucks' retail music concept and record label. Hear Music began as a catalog company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1990 before being purchased by Starbucks in 1999.


The Hear Music brand has four components: the music that each location plays; in-store CD sales, including Starbucks exclusives; branded retail stores (which opened shortly after the catalog was formed) and a label distributing their recordings.

As of December 2006, there are four Starbucks Hear Music Coffeehouses: Santa Monica, California, on the Third Street Promenade; San Antonio, Texas, on the River Walk; Miami, Florida, on the Lincoln Road shopping promenade; and Bellevue, Washington, in Bellevue Square.[1] The original, now-defunct Hear Music Store was located in Berkeley, California. Ten Starbucks locations also have Hear Music "media bars," a service which uses tablet-based PCs to allow customers to create their own mix CDs. The media bars are currently located in Seattle and in Austin, Texas. Additionally, the music section in Canadian bookstore chain Chapters was at one time licensed version of the Hear Music concept; however, the company no longer uses the brand name.

Starbucks is one of the top 40 music-oriented retailers. Its biggest seller was Ray Charles' Grammy-winning Genius Loves Company, with total sales of 2.86 million records; 25% of those were sold at Starbucks locations.

In 2005, Starbucks announced a partnership with singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette. In a six-week deal, Morissette sold an acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill in Starbucks stores only. The acoustic version was released on June 13, 2005 in order to mark the album's tenth anniversary. This limited availability led to a dispute between Maverick Records and HMV Canada, who retaliated by removing Morissette's other albums from store shelves for the duration of Starbucks' exclusive sale.

In April 2008, Starbucks announced that it was refining its entertainment strategy and turning over the day-to-day management of Hear Music to Concord.[2]

At the same time that Starbucks closed 600 coffeehouses in July 2008, it was announced that the Hear Music label would be shutting down.[2] One of the four Hear Music stores, in Santa Monica, California, has indicated that its music operation will be permanently closed approximately September 20, 2008. Another Hear Music store in Bellevue, Washington has been converted to a regular Starbucks. The Lincoln Road Miami Beach location has since been downgraded as well, since November 2008.

Creation as a record label

On March 12, 2007 Starbucks and Concord Music Group launched the Hear Music record label.[3] The company's first artist signing was considered a huge coup, with Paul McCartney defecting from his long-time label EMI on March 21, 2007.[4]

In July 2007, the label signed Joni Mitchell and announced that her first album of new material in nearly ten years, Shine, would be released on September 25, 2007.[5]

In March 2008, it was announced that Carly Simon had signed with the label, and would be releasing a new album entitled This Kind of Love in late April 2008, her first collection of original songs since 2000's The Bedroom Tapes.[6] In October 2009, Simon sued Starbucks for poor promotion of her album resulting in poor sales and for not paying her all of the agreed advance.[7]

Current artists


  1. Harris, Craig (2006-11-24). "Starbucks opens Hear Music shop in Bellevue". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  2. 1 2 Starbucks Newsroom: Starbucks Redefines Its Entertainment Strategy http://news.starbucks.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=48
  3. "Starbucks Launches Hear Music Record Label" (Press release). Business Wire. 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  4. "McCartney joins Starbucks label". BBC News. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  5. Cohen, Jonathan (2007-07-25). "Joni Mitchell Joins McCartney On Hear Music Roster". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  6. Rolling Stone : Carly Simon Signs With Starbucks' Hear Music
  7. Carly Simon's anticipation unfulfilled, so she sues Starbucks - DailyFinance

External links

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