What do Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse and Bing Crosby have in common? They were either from, or at some point lived in, Seattle. As strong as Seattle's music history is, its coffeehouse culture rivals it in popularity. And it seems Starbucks has found a way to marry the city's two major cultural forces in a brand new way.
According to a press release from Starbucks, the company will partner with the popular music-streaming service Spotify in a multi-year deal with 7,000 company-owned U.S. stores. The two companies will create a "first-of-its-kind music ecosystem" with interconnectivity allowing My Starbucks Rewards members unique access to Starbucks music on Spotify and rewarding them with "stars" that can be redeemed as a form of digital currency. Nearly 150,000 U.S. Starbucks employees will also receive a Spotify Premium account. The companies plan to expand the plan to the U.K and Canada, as well.
This isn't Starbucks' first forray into music. The company has sold CDs in the past and employed a team of music experts to curate the music played within stores. The company has leveraged its reach to help launch artists, like Fleet Foxes and John Legend.
However, this move is unique in two major ways. It appears the company will be able to interact with customers in a brand new and social way, and one would assume that the company will be privy to the data Spotify collects on users' listening preferences. That data could help curate future music choices in the company's locations, helping preserve its relevancy in pop culture by harnessing the listening trends of its customers.
The integration of a seemingly unrelated technology into the coffee powerhouse's structure is the second major take away from the release. CEO Howard Schultz indicated that this is only the first of Starbucks' tie-ins with other technologies. As consumers become more accustomed to the interconnectivity of their devices, social networks and applications, it makes me wonder what could be next. Perhaps a Starbucks delivery service connected to Netflix to fuel those late-night binge-watching marathons is in order.