Starbucks and Spotify team to blend music with coffee

WASHINGTON — Months after Starbucks stopped selling CDs at cash registers, the coffee giant is teaming up with Spotify to offer music streaming in-store and to-go.

And, in the same way coffee customers can order a triple, venti, half-sweet, soy, no foam latte, they’ll be able to help shape the music that’s played in their favorite Starbucks shop.

Starting in fall, subscribers of Spotify will get reward points they can redeem at Starbucks, while coffee customers will be able to stream music on their Starbucks mobile app.

Spotify music will be played in all 7,000 company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S., and initially the person mixing the drinks will also be mixing the tunes.

“We’re really making the barista the D.J. here,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a conference call, reports Wired.

When the program launches Starbucks baristas will be given a Spotify Premium subscription, which normally costs $10 a month. That subscription will enable employees to tweak the playlists of songs heard in the coffee shop.

Shortly after that, the barista-influenced playlists will be available on Spotify through the Starbucks mobile app so customers can stream music whenever they’d like.

As part of the deal, Spotify is paying Starbucks for the ability to issue reward points — “stars” in Starbucks parlance.

This will give Spotify the leverage to offer coffee drinks as an incentive to attract new customers, and will let customers suggest songs for playlists of Starbucks music.

Analysts say the teaming of the two companies makes sense — Starbucks needed a technology update, and Spotify needed a powerful partner.

“For over 40 years, music has played a vital role in Starbucks Third Place experience — inspiring our partners and customers in unexpected ways that have helped to shape the global pop culture,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, in a statement.

“We’re looking forward to creating unique in-store music experiences,” said Spotify’s Ek.

Spotify reports it has 60 million active users, including over 15 million paying subscribers.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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