The Rolling Stones will release an album of rare tracks next month in partnership with coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. and the group’s Virgin Records label, the partners said yesterday (Oct. 25).
“Rarities 1971-2003” will be released simultaneously on Nov. 22 in both Starbucks-owned outlets and in traditional music stores across the United States and Canada. Virgin, a unit of London-based EMI Group Plc., will handle the foreign release by itself.
The non-exclusive deal differs from recent controversial arrangements Starbucks has had with other major artists. Pop singer Alanis Morissette allowed Starbucks to sell her latest album six weeks before everyone else, resulting in the HMV chain in her native Canada pulling her other albums off its racks in protest.
The Stones, currently on a tour of North America, suffered a similar fate from some retailers in 2003 when they gave electronics chain Best Buy Co. Inc. an exclusive sales window for a DVD package.
Starbucks, which is in the early stages of an ambitious plan to become the leading destination for music buyers, has enjoyed its biggest success with Ray Charles’ Grammy-winning posthumous album “Genius Loves Company,” which was a non-exclusive release.
The “Genius” album has sold about 3.1 million copies in the United States with Starbucks accounting for about 730,000 copies, according to Charles’ Concord Records label. Additionally, Starbucks sold 75,000 copies of a holiday package that included the CD.
The new Stones disc boasts 16 tracks, including live versions of concert staples like “Tumbling Dice” and “Beast of Burden,” dance remixes of songs like “Miss You” and “Harlem Shuffle” and b-sides, such as their live 1971 cover of Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock.” All have been previously released, but some are hard to find. The band has been wary of releasing old gems as it prefers to keep the focus on its new material.
“With every studio session, there are always songs that never appear on the final album and at the time you think, what a shame that song did not make it,” Stones vocalist Mick Jagger was quoted as saying in a statement.
It will reach stores just 11 weeks after the Stones released their first studio album in eight years, “A Bigger Bang.” Despite critical acclaim and heavy publicity surrounding the tour, the Virgin release has been a commercial disappointment, debuting at No. 3 on the U.S. pop charts, and sliding to No. 63 in its sixth week, with cumulative sales of 295,000 copies, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan.
Starbucks was involved in the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of “Rarities,” but Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard declined to offer financial specifics.
“We felt this was an exciting project and a perfect fit for what we’re trying to provide to our customers,” he said in an interview.
Lombard said Starbucks has been working with the Stones’ management since they partnered on a 2003 album in the chain’s “Artist’s Choice” series, where musicians choose their favorite songs and discuss their impact.