Starbucks and Concord Music Group have formed a new label, Hear Music, which will sign established and emerging artists directly for distribution inside and outside the coffee chain.
Under the collaborative venture, Starbucks will take primary responsibility for A&R, while Concord will lead marketing, promotion and distribution of Hear Music artists outside the cafes.
Hear Music expects to release its first album by the end of this year. Neither Starbucks nor Concord would confirm a New York Post report that Sir Paul McCartney is close to signing a deal.
"We started to get so many calls from artists interested in going direct with us, that it really felt like not only the right time, but the natural next step in our strategy," Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard tells Billboard.biz.
Since 1999, the Hear Music brand has been used for compilations and co-releases for sale at Starbucks locations. The name will now be used exclusively for Los Angeles-based Hear Music label partnership.
Following the successful Starbucks-Concord release of Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company," the coffee company launched its Starbucks Hear Music Debut series, through which emerging artists released their first albums exclusively at Starbucks locations.
Though Concord Music Group primarily releases jazz and soul, Concord president Glen Barros said the Hear Music label would be "multi-genre."
"It really comes down to honest, authentic music," Barros tells Billbooard.biz. "Having that platform with the 44 million people that walk through Starbucks stores every week is really powerful."