Spotify announced this morning that it has partnered with Starbucks to bring its streaming music service to over 7,000 US-based Starbucks retail stores. The move could significantly enhance Spotify’s popularity, as the Starbucks loyalty program has over 10 million members who will for the first time be able to third party benefits of the service.
“For over forty 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,” Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz said in a prepared statement. “And we are delighted and honored to bring Spotify directly to our customers.”
Starbucks sold CDs through it stores from 1994 until about two months ago and the firm had a long-running partnership with iTunes—it started in 2007—by which they would give away a free song on Apple’s service each week. It’s not clear whether this new deal impacts Starbuck’s relationship with Apple, but you have to kind of think so.
Anyway. Here’s what’s happening with this new deal.
It’s a multi-year relationship. When you consider how long Starbucks sold CDs and that the Starbucks/Apple deal is hitting its 8th year, it’s pretty clear that Starbucks is serious about music.
Phased rollout. Spotify will begin appearing in US-based Starbucks locations “later this fall,” followed “shortly thereafter” by Starbucks locations in Canada and the United Kingdom. Spotify Premium—the paid tier of the service—will be promoted in these stores.
Starbucks employees are getting free Spotify Premium memberships. The 150,000 US-based Starbucks will receive a Spotify Premium subscription, as will Starbucks employees in Canada and the UK. Spotify will provide Starbucks employees with tools they can use to “influence” special playlists that are being made by Spotify for Starbucks.
Benefits for Spotify listeners. These Starbuck playlists will be accessible on Spotify via the Starbucks Mobile App so that customers can access this music at any time from their mobile devices. And Spotify will also include a dedicated section in its own app featuring new playlists from Starbucks and its most popular music from the past 20 years.
Benefits for My Starbucks Rewards loyalty members. Starbucks MSR members will be able to influence in-store playlists and earn “Stars as Currency” for doing so. (The details on this are hazy.) This is the first time that MSR members have been able to earn these stars for using a third party product or service.
Honestly, Spotify is a perfect partner for this kind of service because they have a mobile app for all of the major platforms, whereas iTunes is Apple-only (on mobile). Microsoft’s Xbox Music is also available on multiple platforms, but it has two dings against it. First, the Android and iOS versions of the apps are very limited, and arbitrarily so from what I can tell. And second, Xbox Music doesn’t actually have sophisticated, radio-style playlists like Spotify (despite a feature called, wait for it, Radio). Spotify just makes the most sense.