Special performance kicks off acoustic release.
Alanis Morissette last night (June 13) performed an intimate show at Starbucks on Astor Place in New York's East Village. The short set coincided with the exclusive release of her new album, "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic" (Maverick), via the coffee company's locations and was played to an audience of about 120, mostly radio contest winners and Starbucks employees and executives. The exclusive with the coffee chain will last six weeks before being offered through other retailers.
Morissette arrived at 7 pm, flanked by security and greeted by screaming fans, winners of 35 pairs of tickets given away by 95.5 WPLJ in New York. She immediately joined touring bandmates Jason Orme and David Levita, both playing acoustic guitars, on a small stage where tables normally reside in the Astor Place location. Morissette and company performed three songs, "Hand In Pocket," "You Learn" and "Ironic" from her new album, a re-working of her 1995 breakthrough "Jagged Little Pill" (Maverick).
The songs were immediately recognizable to fans but offered slight changes, including the vocal "it's meeting the man of my dreams, then meeting his beautiful husband" -- with "husband" being substituted in for "wife" --from "Ironic," which drew laughs and applause. Between songs Morissette was upbeat and engaging with the audience. While talking to the group between sets she admitted that Starbucks has become the band's "embassy away from home as we travel, we seem to always find one."
Starbucks may seem like an odd venue to play for an artist like Morissette, who’s headlined arena tours, but she thinks this album works well in the setting. "The acoustic songs have a coffee house feel, so I think it fits," she said to Billboard.biz after the show.
The choice by Maverick and Morissette to offer the album exclusively through Starbucks is being met with criticism by music retailers. Most recently, Canada's largest specialist music retailer, HMV Canada, on June 13 pulled all her product from its shelves and returned it to the record company in protest.
On the exclusive to Starbucks, Morissette said she didn't have to be sold on the idea. "I've always been open to alternative ways of sharing my music," she said. "Any time there's a paradigm shift like this, I understand that some people are going to be resistant. It happened with the internet too."
The loss of support from certain traditional music retailers is being offset by Starbucks marketing push, which draws on its strategic alliances with United Airlines and XM Satellite Radio. Additional to the in-store signage in the coffee company's outlets, United Airlines will be airing special Morissette footage including studio outtakes and interviews as part of its in-flight programming. XM will be airing programming related to the album on its Hear Music channel (channel 75).
Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks coffee company, was on-hand for the performance and said he was "thrilled" with the opportunity to offer Morissette's album exclusively through the Hear Music program, which had most recently put forth the debut from Antigone Rising (Atlantic).
Morissette's new album reunites her with producer Glen Ballard for the first time since 1998's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" and after the set she likened the experience of recording the "Pill" songs again with him to "a coming home. We did it all very quickly."
Morissette's tour in support of the acoustic album began on June 7 in Toronto and lasts for six weeks, wrapping up July 17 in Costa Mesa, Calif. After that she wants to get to work on her next studio album. "I'm ready. I hope to be in the studio soon. I'm thinking about doing an album that encompasses 20 years of my life. I started writing when I was 9 years old so I have a lot to draw from."