Starbucks Music Head Resigns; Unit to Relocate to Los Angeles

From Bloomberg News

Starbucks Corp., the largest U.S. coffee-shop chain, said Tuesday that its vice president of music resigned and that it would move the unit to Los Angeles from Seattle.

Don MacKinnon, who ran the company’s Hear Music division, left for personal reasons, Seattle-based Starbucks said.

The music group is relocating to be closer to record companies and musicians, said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment.


Starbucks is expanding in music by co-producing albums such as the late Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” and selling exclusive releases including Bob Dylan’s “Gaslight.” The company is seeking new talent after selling almost 3.5 million CDs in its cafes and music stores last year.

“We’re looking for unique music opportunities, unique projects we can provide with a quality retail distribution option,” Lombard said. The relocation would put employees “on the ground and in the mainstream where they can be much more proactive about locating new artists.”

Lombard said Starbucks Entertainment was conducting a search for a replacement for MacKinnon, who had been the head of the music group since Starbucks bought his Hear Music stores in 1999. Six of the 77 people in the entertainment division will also be moving.

There are three Starbucks Hear Music stores, which carry thousands of titles, in addition to a few dozen Starbucks coffee shops with “media bars” where patrons can choose from more than 1 million digital-music tracks and burn custom CDs. Other Starbucks locations typically carry a display rack with about 20 CD and DVD titles.

Starbucks in April will begin in-store promotions of the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” featuring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett and produced by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

Starbucks has been meeting with Hollywood studios about supporting possible film projects, spokeswoman Sanja Gould said in January.

Lombard said having a presence in Los Angeles would help Starbucks “have additional conversations to build our entertainment-content pipeline.”

Starbucks shares fell 4 cents to $36.28.