When I picked up today’s morning latte at Starbucks, I also picked up a free iTunes download of Brandi Carlile’s Turpentine.
From Oct. 2 through Nov. 7, Starbucks is handing out 1.5 million "Song of the Day" cards, including Carlile, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and many others. Not surprisingly, you can also download the entire albums — at a cost.
Starbucks is also demo’ing the future of the music business.
As retail music sales continue to decline, record companies and artists will become increasingly open to the idea of packaging their products as add-ons to other products — coffee, perfumes, groceries, anything.
And just as websites turn free customers into paid subscribers by first offering them free content, artists and labels will need to give away free songs to entice customers to buy.
This is a concept I’ve heard repeatedly ridiculed by music industry executives as cannibalizing CD sales and destroying the "value" — whatever that is — of their artists.
That’s silly. The ultimate value of artists lies in how much people enjoy their work; people will always be willing to pay for something once they decide they love it.
Starbucks, which gives customers free tastes of new coffees, knows all abou that. Hopefully, the music industry will also take the hint.