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First Victoria's Secret, Now Starbucks

June 28, 2005

The word on the street is that the unofficial folk music 'poster child' -- none other than our beloved Bob Dylan -- has recently signed an exclusive deal with Starbucks for sale of his next CD release. "Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962" will be released later this summer and will be for sale at the coffee chain throughout the US. It will include previously unreleased tracks that were originally recorded at the Gaslight Cafe in New York City. What do you make of this? Do you view this as "selling out?" Is selling your CD through a Starbucks any different than through any other major record store chain? Are you just glad that there's a new Bob Dylan CD on the way, and not very concerned with where you purchase it? The times, they are a-changin'....

Posted by Linda Fahey at June 28, 2005 1:22 PM


Artists must make their best deals, and if Starbucks has that deal, they should go with it. We don't owe the record chains a goldurned thing. If they want music to sell, let them write their own! You go Bob, once again the Wiz takes point!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 28, 2005 2:00 PM

I think it's brilliant, personally.

On another note, I have a somewhat related item linked to the notion of changing the rules in the supply chain. My firm has been testing broadband cards and the recent tests have shown that you can stay online with a laptop traveling many miles between cities with the current coverage, and the coverage will only get better over time. As soon as broadband radio, or some other similar technology becomes readily available in automobiles, the entire music industry will have the rug pulled out from under them. At least until they get the prostitutes in congress to write laws to give all the broadcast rights to Clearchannel and the two or three other conglomerates that have destroyed the industry.

Posted by: Jack Swain at June 28, 2005 7:57 PM

Well, I'm appalled, because I'm not all that fond of Starbucks (there IS actually other good, reasonably priced coffee out there in the world) and because I live a LOOOOOOONG ways from the nearest Starbucks, I'm being discriminated against. Frankly, "exclusives" of any kind - be they with Starbucks or any major chain (record store or otherwise), rather than an across-the-board release, smack of advertising and support of one thing over another - and general buy-in to the commercialism of the times - something I wouldn't have expected of Dylan (although clearly he's done so before).

For shame...

Posted by: Lelani Arris at June 28, 2005 11:24 PM

A little less idealism and a bit more pragmatism.

We're tired of having our pockets picked by the record chains in the name of "convenience" - the current distribution networks rob us blind, when they aren't just selling pirated music outright.

Not only will broadband change radio - the web will change distribution. Downloads were up 400 percent last year, while CD sales flatlined. And web sales can now, thanks to CD Baby and other online stores, carry and sell our music for a fraction of what it costs to put them in a brick and mortar store.

Shameless plug: paste this link in your browser and check out CD Baby does this at my own page - sound samples, a bio, and the opportunity purchase all just mouse clicks away:

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 28, 2005 11:41 PM

Jack and Jim-- I think you are both right. I've been talking about in car Internet access ever since Chuck and I live streamed from Ohio to Minnesota (where we were going for a conference). If you could have access to your E-mail and sites to look up addresses and maps in your car, along with music you actually want to listen to, wouldn't you pick that over satellite? Especially if your streaming costs are bundled in with your cell phone plan. Ah... the Internet. It's the future!

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at June 29, 2005 8:46 AM

Lelani Arris:

"Well, I'm appalled, because I'm not all that fond of Starbucks (there IS actually other good, reasonably priced coffee out there in the world) and because I live a LOOOOOOONG ways from the nearest Starbucks, I'm being discriminated against. Frankly, "exclusives" of any kind - be they with Starbucks or any major chain (record store or otherwise), rather than an across-the-board release, smack of advertising and support of one thing over another - and general buy-in to the commercialism of the times - something I wouldn't have expected of Dylan (although clearly he's done so before).

For shame...

I have seen Starbucks' exclusive CD offerings in numerous stores, not just in Starbucks, and since it is Bob Dylan, after all, I am fairly certain that you won't have to travel far to find it when it comes out. In fact, it will certainly be as available as this posting, even if you don't see it in a brick and mortar establishment.

If you refuse to support Starbucks, well then I guess that is another matter.

Posted by: Jack Swain at June 29, 2005 10:31 AM

Personally I think it is great. I never seem to have the time to wander through record stores where my style of music, folk, is in a back corner or lumped with heaven only knows what. In fact, I have bought quite a bit of music at Starbuck's and then listened on the way to wherever. As long as it is a little out of the mainstream, suits my taste, is high quality and convenient it makes sense to me.

Posted by: Jeff at June 29, 2005 11:01 AM

Well, I'm a little two-fold on this topic.

First, yay for Bob releasing new music. Also, yay to a national coffehouse gestapo conglomerate for carrying someone as "old" as Bob.

Secondly, I'm just not sure Starbuck's intention is to sell Bob because of the fact that he is one of the greatest songwriters of our time, but more of a demographic move to get the parents and "hippie" group into their already overflowed "hip and young" customer base.

Eh, what does it matter, right? Bob's still making music, and that is what really matters. And anything that gives progress to we suffering folk/americana artists is good progress.

Posted by: Mongo Cross at June 29, 2005 12:08 PM

Merchant motivation on both sides - Bob has never been apologetic about wanting money for his music, and good for him. I really hate the whole false modesty rigamarole, we record music to sell it, not to suffer for our art.

Starbucks wants to lure more people in to pay five times what coffee is worth. If folks are that desirous of doing this, let them.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 29, 2005 12:17 PM

Now I want some coffee

Posted by: Scott Powell at June 29, 2005 2:02 PM

With one of those crunchy little chocolate pastry tubes, what do they call those?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 29, 2005 6:01 PM

They call them subways.

Oh wait, your talking about food?


Posted by: Jack Swain at June 29, 2005 9:48 PM

After reading's rating of Starbucks, I'm okay with them, and I'm hoping there is something new on the Gaslight Tapes that didn't show up on the old bootleg.

Starbucks currently has a 100% BuyBlue rating due to its executives' political contributions for the 2003-2004 election cycle. During that election cycle, every Starbucks executive whose contributions we researched on the Federal Elections Commission site contributed to a Democratic candidate.

-Ken in Jax

Posted by: Ken Connors at June 29, 2005 10:44 PM

So I guess Starbucks won't be branching out into ammo sales, then.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 30, 2005 1:06 AM

"So I guess Starbucks won't be branching out into ammo sales, then."

Yeah, Ted Nugent hasn't signed any deals with Starbucks, yet, but I'll bet he needs another cup of coffee.

Posted by: Jack Swain at June 30, 2005 11:15 AM

I don't think Uncle Ted needs the caffeine...

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 30, 2005 11:29 AM

I'm sensing the potential for a new concept aimed (pun intended) at the coffee drinkng, camo draped, outdoorsman, "Critters and Jitters".

Posted by: Jeff at June 30, 2005 12:19 PM

Or, since Ted says "ya can't grill it til ya kill it", we could call it "Jittery Critter Fritters"

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 30, 2005 12:44 PM

"Secondly, I'm just not sure Starbuck's intention is to sell Bob . . . but more of a demographic move to get the parents and "hippie" group into their already overflowed "hip and young" customer base."

I beg your pardon? I'm couple years to the far side of the half-century mark, and if I'm near one and need some coffee, I'll go to Starbucks for their regular coffee: most other places make theirs too weak for me. Fast food chains and convenience stores never brew it right, only the coffee house chains like Starbucks and Caribou do.

What really remains to be seen is the pricing of the CD (I almost said "album!") at Starbucks. That will determine how important the profit margin is to Dylan and Starbucks.

I went to the Willy Nelson/Bob Dylan concert in Bowie, MD, recently and was a bit disappointed in both artists. Maybe I'm just a fan of smaller venues, where you can see the singer without a telescope as large as the Hubbel. I think I enjoyed Tom Rush more at the Ram's Head in Annapolis. A good bit cheaper, too! At least Merriweather-Post in Columbia had large screens so you could actually SEE Alison Krauss.

Posted by: Lawrence Brady at June 30, 2005 2:05 PM

I recall a really neat venue in Annapolis, the King of France Tavern. Is that still going?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 30, 2005 3:14 PM

Mr. Dylan is free to sell his cds wherever he'd like, even 'exclusively' at McWalbucks. Personally another Dylan release doesn't excite me very much. I'd rather spend my money on CDs from new, young artists, like Adrienne Young for example.

Posted by: Sarah McKenzie at June 30, 2005 8:49 PM

Pretty sure Bob will be fine with or without our blessings, but he's always been a sharp dealer, and he isn't the first artist to go the Starbucks route. Quite a few retail noses are out of joint over it.

I might just cry myself to sleep tonight.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 30, 2005 11:52 PM

As for me, I'd rather browse the isles of Victoria's Secret (and just what is that?) than Starbucks, but since neither of these stores are available here, I'll have to cope.

Coffee is the second or third choice of beverage here in the Emerald Island. Somewhat a second class citizen. The TV commercials are for instant rather than ground roast. Forget about whole bean. It's a slow train comin'.

I don't deny Starbucks the success they have. I can reemember when they were just another Pacific Northwestern coffee roaster and retailer in a crowd of many. They didn't go into business to limit thier achievements. Sure they're overpiced, and better coffee can be had elsewhere. If you don't like it, go elsewhere. So what if on the way you'll pass serveal Starbucks.

What intrigues me more is the actual CD itself. I'm guessing this was recorded between Dylan's debut album and "Freewheelin," or slightly after "Freewheelin." Did Dylan even know this concert was being recorded? He was still fairly new on the scene. How come, to my knowledge this one was never bootlegged?

well I need another cup of coffee before I go, to the valley below.

Posted by: Joshua Brande at July 1, 2005 6:16 AM

Joshua-- Victoria's Secret is an overpriced, overhyped lingerie chain this side of the pond. It mostly made its reputation by saturating the market with catalogs, a few of which I'm sure actually made their way into the hands of women shoppers. I think (if I were a musician, which I'm not) I'd be happy for the high profile exposure for music that was randomly recorded in the early '60s. I think someone further up said that it had been bootlegged, but I don't know (bootlegs aren't my bag unless cash is going back to the artist - it's their product, they should see some profit).

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at July 2, 2005 8:45 AM

The "Gaslight Tapes" were almost as widley known in bootled form as the "Basement Tapes" were. Dylan was always pretty darned savy, it wouldn't surprise me if he knew he was being recorded.

Should he have collaborated with Starbucks? I'm reminded of the time back in the late 1960's when Sir Lawrence Olivier did commercials for Kodak. An interviewer, I think maybe David Frost, asked him just how the greatest English speaking actor could possibly stoop to do commercials. Sir Lawrence thought quietly for a moment, then said "I hear voices; the landlord, the gas company, the grocer; they all say the same thing: make money." I reckon Dylan hears those same voices.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at July 5, 2005 4:26 PM

Thanks Bob for still making music ....Thanks Starbucks for even
trying to figure out how to make music available outside of the
normal chains...Thanks for channel 75 on xm radio also!!!
Thanks Folkalley!!!!

Posted by: CHRISTOPHER HARRIS at July 6, 2005 4:05 AM

The more distribution channels, the better. Having options is good.

Starbucks, along with Cracker Barrel, Best Buy et al, is doing is what enterprises have done for years: using music to identify and differentiate themselves. Even independent music stores promote exclusive CDs. But "exclusive" lasts only hours before other distribution channels stock the same product.

I think it is physically or chronologically impossible to hear even half of the good music being issued or reissued every day. Why worry about temporary promotions when you already are surrounded by more great stuff than you can possibly hear? I strongly doubt if there is anyone anywhere in the world who isn't able to buy whatever music they want. Unless, of course, you want the really good Paraguayan music -- now there's a challenge. Maybe someday Starbucks will be challenged by a chain of mate-houses, and then the Paraguayan stuff can be the next great "exclusive."

Posted by: Ralph Brown at July 6, 2005 1:35 PM

Go to this link for Paraguayan music:

Of course, you might need to do a bit of translation...

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at July 6, 2005 4:10 PM

I didn't believe it at first, or understand why. (And I didn't get the reference to Victoria's Secret--I looked thru my stash of catalogues, too, for a clue.) But if it's not available elsewhere afterward, it will be on eBay soon enough. Anything by him not released or available is of interest to this old fan.

Posted by: Warren Steele at July 7, 2005 10:20 PM

The Victoria's Secret reference is this: Bob did a commercial for them last year, featuring one of his songs and, of course, a leggy model.

I went to Starbucks this weekend and got their new "exclusive" release, Alanis Morisette's acoustic version of her album "Jagged Little Pill." It's wonderful -- without the screaming guitars, you can actually hear the words.

Posted by: Darrell Grizzle at July 8, 2005 9:00 AM

Of course, for those who think the TRULY hot video was Paris Hilton's ad for Carl's Junior, here is a link to feast your eyes on. No Dylan tune, though...

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at July 9, 2005 10:42 AM

I think a sales venue that sort of breaks away from the traditional music supply chain is probably a good thing.

I'm not a fan of Starbuck's either, mostly because I think their coffee tastes like burnt dirt (I'm a light, Vienna roast kind of guy), but what I think of Starbuck's doesn't matter in this particular instance.

Posted by: Ed from Cleveland at July 17, 2005 5:38 PM

Starbucks have their fat foot in the door down here too, (Australia), but I have never been to one, there are plenty of places left with proper coffee still, however if the deal is the same here I'm happy to make my way to Starbuciks to buy some vintage Bob Dylan.

Posted by: Tony Buckland at July 18, 2005 4:09 AM

I'm surprised that we are still having a discussion about Dylan selling out. He's made it pretty clear over the years that he's not real comfortable with being the conscience of a generation. Although he did quite a number of "protest" songs and songs that took a moral stand on topical issues, he has also been a "divorce poet", a "wash up" , and a rejuvenated genious (e.g., Love and Theft). By the way aren't his albums available also at wallmart? :P

Posted by: Jason Jonker at July 21, 2005 9:27 PM

Well, personally, I would rather buy it at Starbucks than most of the major retailers out there. But being the huge Dylan fan I am, if it was only being sold in an igloo record store in antarctica, I would buy it there. Dylan has given me more than enough in life, I support the man's every move. And I thank him for every gift he has ever given me, without any questions or expectations....the man is simply astonishing....
Jason Bennett

Posted by: Jason Bennett at July 23, 2005 6:38 PM

I was reading through the Starbucks comments and noticed that at the bottom of the screen was a Starbucks advertisement! How insidious.

What next, Walmart coupons?


Posted by: Jack at July 23, 2005 8:33 PM

I may have to rethink my support for Folk Alley.

I'm not a Democrat. I shop at WalMart or Best Buy(or some other retailer) for music and video if it 's available. And I consume mass quantities of Starbucks house coffee when I frequent my favorite book store for the latest tome to satisfy my craving for knowledge about the American Civil War and religious studies after church on Sunday.

I suppose I'll have to jettison my acoustic music collection and start listening to "classic rock" format radio?


Re: Dylan@Starbucks -

More power to them both.

Dang. I'm also a capitalist.

Posted by: Don Rosenow at August 19, 2005 6:33 PM

Good grief...selling out? I hardly think so. If everyone REALLY wants to get their hackles up about capitalism and unfair practices, take a gander at the artists' deals with any record label, big or small. Starbucks is Mother Theresa compared to the labels that you all are giving 50% of the profit to while the artist makes about 8% if they're lucky. So....I say more power to any artist who can find a way to bigger profit. Walmart and Starbucks are big visible targets...I would save the word "insidious" for things like labels.

Posted by: susie at September 8, 2005 5:34 PM

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