Search continues for VP of music and ent.

Starbucks' new deal with the William Morris Agency should bring the coffeehouse greater access to music, film and book projects at an earlier stage. But the company stresses they will also continue to work directly with the labels in making its musical selections.

“We already have an existing relationship with the majority of the labels,” Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard tells billboard.biz.

Indeed, Starbucks’ next exclusive is a result of direct contact with the labels. Diana Ross’s “Blue,” an album of standards recorded in 1971 and 1972 that was never released will be offered exclusively by Starbucks starting May 16. Starbucks’ exclusive will last five weeks. The Motown/Universal Music Enterprises album was shelved after Ross’s management at the time decided her career should go in a more pop and less jazz direction.

In other Starbucks news, Lombard says the search continues for the replacement for Starbucks’ VP of music and entertainment Don MacKinnon. MacKinnon, who joined the company in 1999 when the coffee retailer purchased his Hear Music chain, was a key liaison between labels and Starbucks. He resigned Feb. 27. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of candidates that we’ve talked to, we’ve been encouraged, but we haven’t made a decision,” Lombard says.

In other Starbucks news, Lombard says the company is aggressively working towards making its Media Bars, its download kiosks, compatible with hand held devices. Currently, patrons can only burn CDs. “We have to find a solution for our customers to bring their devices in,” Lombard says. “We haven’t made a decision yet as to what the right direction will be, but we’re working very hard to work it out.”

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