Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Starbucks in-store CD burning.

starbucksEarlier this week, Gizmodo delivered its report on Starbucks To Provide In-Store CD Burning, and wrapped it up with the question, "Does this interest anyone at all, or have services like iTunes and Rhapsody leap-frogged the need for in-store CD burning?"

Since Gizmodo has moronically disallowed any commenting, I will respond here. My answer is a resounding yes.

While I was in Seattle with Jenny last year two years ago (jeez!), I stopped in this fantastic Starbucks just down the street from our hotel. It was huge, filled with neat art and nice architectural flourishes (not just the out-of-the-box artwork that you find on every Starbucks in the universe), and, now here's the kicker, a big kiosk that told you what was currently being piped over the store speakers. You'd be working away, and they'd play something nice and jazzy and cool, and you could look up and take note of the artist and the title of the song.

Now, the snootier among us may take issue with using Starbucks as a filter for new music, but I think Starbucks' Hear Music CDs are fantastic. I've found quite a few new favorite groups by picking up those CDs, and they make excellent road trip mixes. (This cool-friend role has since been ceded to Paste Magazine, but that's neither here nor there.)

Picture this. I'm sitting in Starbucks, working on my laptop and using their T-Mobile wireless network. (It happens.) Something comes over the speakers and I really dig it. I fire up iTunes or whatever their little web client is to find out who the artist is, then either 1-click the song or pop over to iTunes to look it up. This could be great. Now, according to Gizmodo they're talking about only doing the CD burning thing, which I think is a trifle shortsighted, but if this allows for the same kind of functionality as the Starbucks in Seattle (which I suspect might have been an alpha test kiosk or something), then I'm all for it.

Brief aside: what does gall me here lately is Starbucks' sponsoring of independent film. I don't know why, exactly, but there's just something so anti-indie about Starbucks that their insinuations that these two things fit so perfectly together is just nauseating. Note to Howard Schultz: there's nothing indie about Starbucks. That's okay. I'm fine with having you cater to the artsy and the techno and the stylish and the foreign-film art house market and so on and so forth. But indie? Nahhhh. When I hear "indie", I think of something way more urban than Starbucks. I think of places like Common Grounds in Arlington, or little record shops like the one John Cusack owned in High Fidelity. Likening Starbucks to indie film is like trying to link Best Buy to the latest indie music. It just doesn't click.

Of course, any ad campaign attempting to link Starbucks to Merchant Ivory films would be equally laughable, so I guess what they've done isn't that bad.

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