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Starbucks Opens New Hear Music Coffeehouse in San Antonio, Miami Location Tapped For Early 2006

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) -The next evolution of the Stabucks Hear Music Coffeehouse opened on December 19 on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX. An additional location will open in South Beach, Miami, Fl in early 2006.

These additions to the Starbucks retail portfolio further extend the concept of the initial Hear Music Coffeehouse, which opened in Santa Monica, CA in March 2004. The new stores represent the full integration of a classic coffeehouse experience with an extensive digital and physical music inventory and underscore the company's commitment to extending its entertainment initiative.

"Starbucks has changed the rules of engagement for the music industry," said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman. "By fully integrating the Starbucks Experience with the discovery of music, the new Hear Music Coffeehouses offer a music retail environment unlike any other and represent a significant milestone for the company."

"The new Hear Music Coffeehouses truly transform the way consumers discover and acquire music, both physically, through our CD inventory, and digitally, through our media bars," added Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. "We're building upon the success of the Santa Monica Coffeehouse, by incorporating customer feedback to extend the experience even further by adding enhanced ambiance, more space and new technology."

"A coffeehouse ambiance plus established and emerging music technologies equal an innovative way for the music industry to connect with consumers," said Susan Kevorkian, program manager, IDC Consumer Markets: Audio. "It gives music lovers — who may not otherwise be reached through traditional channels — the opportunity to discover and buy new music over a cup of coffee."

The San Antonio and Miami Hear Music Coffeehouses will carry an extensive physical inventory of CDs and will include a music selection that has been hand-picked by the Starbucks Hear Music content team to appeal to local and regional tastes in each market.

The new coffeehouses will also feature the next generation of the Hear Music media bars, a service that provides customers with an easy, fun, self-service way to discover and customize music on CDs. The new Hear Music media bars offer more than 1 million songs digitally — nearly a five-fold increase over the selection offered on the previous version. Customers can use these enhanced media bars, 35 in the San Antonio Coffeehouse and 33 in the Miami Coffeehouse, as both listening stations to sample music and as burning stations to create custom CDs or burn an album in minutes. The media bars will also allow customers to listen to any physical CD in the store by simply scanning the bar code. The price to burn a custom CD at the Miami and San Antonio locations will be the same as it is in the Santa Monica location: $8.99 for the first 7 songs, and $.99 for each additional song.

The new Hear Music media bars boast technology with increased capacity and an unparalleled overall user experience. Externally, the tablet and stylus interface were replaced with a touch screen format, and internally, changes were made to the navigation system. New functionality has been added, as well as a feature that allows users to store a song list on a Starbucks card that can be burned during another coffeehouse visit. The media bars' quicker response time enables speedier interaction and a world-class user experience.

The new Hear Music Coffeehouses also feature innovative in-store merchandising and were created with a quality, personalized music experience in mind. The layouts of the new coffeehouses allow for more CD facings — covers on display — and emphasize Starbucks Hear Music's role as a curator to help customers discover quality music they might not otherwise be exposed to. Combined, the physical and digital music offerings at the Hear Music Coffeehouses provide an unprecedented breadth and depth in selection of music.

The San Antonio Hear Music Coffeehouse is located at 111 West Crockett Street, San Antonio in the heart of the Riverwalk. With more than 4,100 square feet of retail space and an additional 1,000 square feet of patio space, the San Antonio Coffeehouse will provide ample room for customers to browse the physical inventory, sample songs digitally, burn custom CDs at one of the 35 Hear Music media bars and experience the fully-integrated Hear Music Coffeehouse concept. The store layout and design as well as display facings and music selection will all reflect the influence of the San Antonio culture and local music scene. The Miami Coffeehouse, which will be located in South Beach at 605 Lincoln Road, Miami and will feature more than 3,300 square feet of retail space and 33 Hear Musicmedia bars.

Starbucks assessed many different variables when selecting the next markets for Hear Music Coffeehouses, including location, foot traffic, the music culture of the city, population of tourists and residents, and visibility for these unique stores. Based on these criteria, the company found San Antonio's Riverwalk, and Miami's Lincoln Road to be ideal locations. Both the San Antonio and Miami locations have been tailor-made for each market, not only through the architectural design, but also with music selected with regional preferences in mind.

Starbucks sought out prominent architects Charles Gwathmey and Kang H. Chang of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. Their approach takes the original concept of the Santa Monica Hear Music Coffeehouse to a new level.

"We were charged with creating a new prototype store that combined music and coffee," said Charles Gwathmey, principle of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. "The architecture, environment and image transform the existing experience while still acknowledging the incredible Starbucks. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen