Starbucks And Spotify Create Partnership

On May 18, Starbuck it joined up with something Seattle University students surely appreciate: free music. By fall, thanks to a new partnership with Spotify, customers and employees will be able to have a say in the coffee shop’s signature music. The initiative is being marketed as a “next generation music ecosystem.”

The partnership makes Starbucks’ sole provider for music, Spotify, a free music streaming service. Employees will receive a Spotify Premium account and rewards members will be able to use a new feature in the Starbucks app to change up their location’s music. This “music ecosystem” will affect 7,000 U.S. locations before hitting Canada and the United Kingdom. By October, Starbucks’ employees and rewards members will be able to choose their jams as they brew coffee and order pumpkin spice lattes.

“What we’re envisioning is really centered around collaborative playlisting,” said Chief Executive of Spotify Daniel Ek. According to Wired Magazine, he dropped the phrase “DJ barista” while in a phone interview—key words to attract youth.

Another way the two companies are procuring their audience’s attention is by providing Starbucks employees with a complimentary Spotify Premium Account so they are able to participate in creating Starbucks playlists. Premium allows the ability to search and listen to a song from a phone or tablet, more revenue for artists and no ads to interrupt music streams.

Students who work as baristas believe they benefit the most. While it takes a special card and accumulated ‘stars’ as a rewards member to get advantages, student employees will be able to listen to their own music at work, then go home and study with their paid-for premium account.

Alisha, a Seattle U freshman who works at Starbucks, tends to think of the store’s music as white noise.

“We can’t hear it at all when it gets busy. I don’t mind most of it, but the general consensus of employees is that they would prefer their own playlists,” Alisha said.

Seattle U freshman Devin Allen, a Spotify Premium user, likes the paid feature better because it allows full use of Spotify.

“With Premium, it is also possible to crank up the quality of the music you’re listening to. I believe the highest fidelity is 320kbps, which is pretty good,” Allen said.

Starbucks has always been musician-friendly and by promoting Spotify Premium, the co-branding would support artists as well as ease Spotify’s tense relationship with the music industry.

But the combination of Starbucks’ propensity to support up-and-coming artists with Spotify’s easy ways to discover new music could be a solution to both of their problems.

“By connecting Spotify’s world-class streaming platform into our world-class store and digital ecosystem, we are reinventing the way our millions of global customers discover music,” said Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz.

Schultz believes the co-branding gives both parties a leg up in gaining audiences.

“We think we have a historic opportunity to take the best of a bricks and mortar consumer brand, combine it with a digital platform and obviously the music and business acumen that Spotify has around building subscribers, and do something together that will enhance the music industry and most importantly provide further value for artists,” he said.

Despite working at the coffee mecca, Alisha is not a huge coffee drinker. She agrees that Spotify could expand musical platforms and although she is currently a Pandora user, Alisha would consider switching to Spotify if her Premium account is complimentary. She has some concerns, however, about striking the right balance of songs.

“The benefits of customers choosing music is that it will appeal more to the customer base of a particular store and create the ambiance that customers are looking for,” Alisha said. “But the downsides are that we serve a very wide variety of customers who likely have very different taste in music. It would be hard to find a balance that everyone likes.”