Starbucks Entertainment Prepares iTunes Store Exclusives

Starbucks Entertainment is now preparing a number of iTunes exclusives, part of a steadily growing music strategy.

The Apple partnership, first announced in October of last year, initially involved a dedicated Starbucks section within iTunes.  Starbucks is now pushing downloads of Rissi Palmer, Alice Russell and WinterKids into the online outlet starting Wednesday.  Each artist will deliver a four-track digital EP to the effort, and receive airplay within Starbucks locations.  The EPs will only be accessible from the iTunes Store, a bricks-to-clicks concept that helps Starbucks address the iPod+iTunes (and iPhone+iTunes) crowd more effectively.

For Starbucks, the emerging artist group represents the latest in a string of exclusives.  Just recently, Starbucks signed Paul McCartney to its Hear Music record label, and pushed his album within its coffee stores aggressively.  The album, Memory Almost Full, pulled first-week sales of roughly 161,000, a modest number that ranks highly for a McCartney solo release.  Still, the outcome can be viewed as disappointing given the absolute marketing blitz applied.  Other aspects of the broader Starbucks music strategy include a New England-based unsigned band competition, and an upcoming, star-studded cover album of Sonic Youth material.