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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hear Music Here

It's been long enough now that I've forgotten what I originally meant to post, so here are some loose ideas in the hopes that someone else has thoughts on this:

The Starbucks Hear Music stuff seems odd to me -- not the selling of CDs in the stores, which is a perfect economic venture, especially given the constant advertisement for those very CDs that the coffeeshops provide on their soundsystem anyway, but the pick-and-burn kiosks, where you can select from 1000s of songs and burn your own CD to pick up at the counter.

The idea of sorting through music at a computer screen seems anti-thetical to the reasons I'd go to a coffeeshop. Browsing and sampling music doesn't have nearly the same feel as sitting in a comfy chair with a newspaper or a novel. It also seems that the people who'd be interested in doing this -- young people without computers at home -- probably aren't the typical Starbucks clientele.

But then I went to one of the test-run shops, this one in San Antonio. My first day there confirmed my theory: no one was using the kiosks. A waiter that night told me that usually they're full, so maybe I was in too early (8:30am). The rest of the week (my boss loves Starbucks, so we have breakfast there everyday on business trips), they were packed. The audience: people old enough to be at a loss with iTunes, etc, but young enough to be into just barely un-hip music.

Starbucks was pushing Kanye, Death Cab, and...Madeleine Peyroux (an unlikely star, but perfectly suited to the latte crowd). Peyroux, as well as the lesser known soul stars being played throughout the morning seem like wise choices for acts that someone would hear on the radio and think they want some of those songs without actually being willing to spring for a full album (although you can, right there, if you want).

And apparently people go there specifically to burn CDs, which is what confuses me. Maybe I'm making assumptions about how prevalent CD-burners are (aren't CD-R drives standard now) or how easy the generation ahead of mine finds iTunes, etc. to use. It just strikes me as really odd to leave the comfort of your house to sit on a little stool and mix yourself up a CD. And the functionality isn't that great -- mainly because too many tracks are available to hear, but not to purchase (although, again, the CDs are right there). Then again, I'm about half a misanthrope, so maybe "being out" is its own reward.


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