Let me get the disclaimer out of the way first: I go to Starbucks. A lot. It’s good coffee. It’s just outside our offices. So yeh, we (“we” being the handsome crew at Arc90) go there a lot.
Our frequent visits have at times led to a cultural crisis of sorts for us. The White Stripes. Beck. Wilco. They’re playing at Starbucks. And we’re not sure how to react. “Hmmm…do I not like Wilco now?” “Is Beck no longer cool?” We’re not sure. We usually just grab our coffees and quietly shuffle out without an answer.
Cause & Effect?
Starbucks is everywhere. Along with its coffee, its creepy monolithic culture is everywhere too. The charming mugs. The seasonal treats (I think it’s time to put pumpkin in everything). And of course, the music. Starbucks, in its tireless drive to be the cool “third place” is constantly seeking out, playing, and peddling music.
The problem is that Starbucks underestimates the force of its own brand. Rather than the likes of Beck & Yo La Tengo helping make Starbucks cool. Starbucks makes the artists lame. Today, I sit in fear wondering if my current artist of choice is bound for the Starbucks counter. Propped up right next to that weird gum they sell in little tin cans.
The Apple Adhesive
Against this backdrop, Apple announces that you can now grab whatever’s playing at Starbucks and purchase it right there and then. That’s right. Starbucks’ creepy little hands are going to reach into your pocket and grope your music collection. So even after you leave, you don’t really leave. With help from Apple, the Starbucks monoculture is getting…stickier.
Hackers Of The World, Save Us
Since the iPhone’s release, hackers have been tirelessly working to open up the iPhone. Custom ringtones. Homebrew applications. Even SIM activation. They’ve done a very impressive job. Well, we need their help again. We need a feature that would cleanse our souls and protect us from the rampant homogeneity of Starbucks.
When we stroll into a Starbucks and a song is playing that is already in our iTunes library, our freshly-hacked iPod needs to show this: