Friday, February 17, 2006

the newest Starbucks: burning music, not coffee

A new Starbucks on Lincoln Road would normally not merit any great notice - we already had two within four blocks. This one is exceptional, though: under the name 'Hear Music,' it aims to combine coffee and music CD concessions, along with lots of niftily innovative touches. For one, there's the 'Starbucks card,' which saves any favorite tracks you choose, allowing you to burn a compilation CD right there in the store.

Walking into the place on its first day of business last Monday, there was a palpable sense of excitement - people milled about with tall lattes and glazed expressions, admiring the wide selection of music. The nearest similarly well-stocked CD store is Specs Music down on 5th and Collins, so this store fills a pressing need, even without the frappuccinos.

I began to wonder what effect all the caffeine has on musical taste. Do we seek out frenetic, wired music to suit our manic state, or try to balance it out with soothing acoustic music? Are we more or less likely to buy on impulse after consuming a 7-layer brownie? And which makes for a more powerful stimulant, reggaeton or espresso?

I would expect all of that sugar and caffeine to have some effects, though they may be different in every person. I'm not a complete teetotaller, but mostly avoid coffee - I just don't like to feel that wired and hyperactive. The caffeine buzz also seems to linger for an uncomfortably long time, provoking unusually bizarre thoughts and behaviors in me. Oh well, I guess it makes me a rarity, a Seattle area native who doesn't drink coffee.

It will be very interesting to see how this synergy between music and coffee plays out, though. Since the store is right across the street from the New World Symphony's Lincoln Theatre, there is sure to be a continuous stream of musicians and audience members there, listening and imbibing. Both the music and the drinks are bound to create a buzz; I hope they also inspire some intrepid listeners to come over to Lincoln Theatre and sample the live music of our orchestra - also a tastily intoxicating experience! Posted by Picasa

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