March 2011

A Musical Look Back at 40

The entertainment team at Starbucks has changed through the decades – but Timothy has been continuously integral to shaping our music offerings from the early days. Most of the compilations we’ve produced over the decades have been his handiwork, including the two-disc anniversary collection 40, available now in stores. Here he recalls the chain of events that led to the creation of Blue Note Blend, the first CD available at Starbucks.

I started at the Pike Place Market Starbucks in September 1987. While I was there, I noticed the music playing overhead.

It was a tape from a company called Audio Environment Inc. The same tape went to all Starbucks stores. I picked up the phone one day and asked around to find out who picked that tape. I found a woman within the company whose plate was already overflowing, and she was quite happy to let me take over.

I stuck with the light classical and instrumental options at first, but the catalog offered more selections. I asked myself: How about vocals? It felt like a beautiful conversation –to have Ella Fitzgerald playing right after Miles Davis. So I started picking tapes that had never been picked before. I tried jazz vocals and then I’d pick a blues tape. Then I’d try a reggae tape. I just started changing the music playing in the stores and people started responding to it.

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Come Rain or Come Shine

Ella Fitzgerald’s voice – happy, full and floating – has long been one we’ve fallen in love to. One of the greatest singers of the 20th century, the “First Lady of Song” had a voice both powerful and exhilarating.

On our Opus Collection, Let’s Fall In Love, Ella’s work – from perfect swing numbers to her classic definitive ballads – and her magnificent voice are showcased in a variety of settings. She had the ability to blend in perfectly with orchestras, adding her voice like the most natural of instrumental complements. A terrific scat singer, who could improvise a melody as well as any instrumentalist, her creativity knew no bounds and her voice filled songs with consummate happiness for the entire 63 years of her career.

Her spirited delivery always fit the mood of a particular song – sometimes girlish, sometimes sophisticated, but always flawless. To every song she brought strikingly gorgeous phrasing that was full of life, illuminating the nuances of a song with technical precision and emotional mastery.

She sang the songs of the century with the best musicians of the century, and, in turn, became the singer of the century.

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What Is Your Community Story?

As I look ahead to celebrating the Global Month of Service, I can say with confidence that my story began on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2008.

This was the date when 10,000 partners came together in New Orleans to give back to a community devastated by a natural disaster. The number of families we helped during the course of that one day was unbelievable. And 10,000 partners walked away from that experience knowing what’s possible when people unite for a common goal.

Last November, my district decided to collect basic personal supplies (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) in our stores for Fill a Stocking, Fill a Heart. This nonprofit organization provides low-income families with holiday stockings filled with essential items. We delivered 1,000 such items to their headquarters and also helped with the setup for their annual fundraising dinner. With 12 fellow partners and less than four hours, we turned an impersonal banquet room into a vivid and lively space.

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Our Next 40 Years Begins Now

On Tuesday, March 8, Starbucks marks its 40th year – and as part of the celebration, we’ll start rolling out the new logo we announced a few months back.

The first place you’ll probably see the new logo is on the cup of your favorite beverage. It could be a while before the signage in your neighborhood store is changed – it takes a while to update 16,500 stores!  

For communication professionals and design nerds like me, this is an exciting time. Watching the reaction to any new logo is fascinating, because people can hold such passionate attachments to these marks. The comments on our Facebook page and blog posts were decidedly mixed – some of you don’t like the new look at all, some of you think you’ll love it once you get used to it. (Honestly, that was pretty much the reaction we were expecting.)  The verdict from the design community has generally been more positive, and even the voice behind the hilarious (but fake) Gap Logo Twitter account lent support.

For those of you who aren’t sold on the new mark, all I ask is this: give it time. As you start to see it out in the world, I hope you’ll start to appreciate the simplicity and elegance of the new design. I like the new mark because I feel that we’ve unleashed the Siren, a mythological figure who represents the romance and creativity that inspired the founders of Starbucks 40 years ago. I hope that unleashing that energy – that mojo – will keep us (and you) inspired for the next 40 years.

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Tribute Badge Official Rules

Official Rules Starbucks Foursquare Sweepstakes (“Sweepstakes”)

OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE U.S. AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (EXCLUDING NEW YORK AND FLORIDA) WHO ARE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER (EXCEPT RESIDENTS OF AL AND NE, 19 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER) AT TIME OF ENTRY. U.S. LAWS GOVERN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. VOID IN PUERTO RICO AND WHERE PROHIBITED. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT WILL NOT INCREASE OR IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

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New Test Post by Allison

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Freelance Whales

There’s this cool little indie rock band from Queens, New York, called the Freelance Whales, who have a particular way with a song. Comparisons to the Postal Service, Belle & Sebastian and Sufjan Stevens are all fine and flatteringly good, and it wouldn’t be too big a leap to throw in Efterklang and DeVotchKa in there as well, but this folk indie pop has a wealth of influences and an infectious sound that should allow them to stand on their own.

On the scene since the late-’00s, Judah Dadone, Doris Cellar, Chuck Criss, Jacob Hyman and Kevin Read  (a group cobbled together from friends word-of-mouth and Craigslist) crashed through with a handful of spritely singles laden with melodic hooks. Throw in banjos, glockenspiels, mandolins, harmoniums and synthesizers, and you’ve got a band capable of greatly pleasing noise and great versatility.

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