Digital Music ‘Now Playing’ at Starbucks with launch of Apple’s iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store on Oct. 2

On October 2, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, which features Starbucks exclusive “Now Playing” service, goes live in more than 600 Starbucks locations in New York and Seattle. In celebration of this historic launch, Starbucks announced today that it will introduce the digital music experience across all of its U.S. company-operated and licensed stores by offering its customers the “Song of the Day,” an unprecedented free digital music promotion. From October 2 to November 7 at more than 10,000 Starbucks locations, customers may receive “Song of the Day” cards redeemable on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC for a complimentary song hand-selected by Starbucks Entertainment. Throughout the promotion, Starbucks will give away 1.5 million downloads on iTunes per day for a total of more than 50 million free songs.

“This is a landmark moment for Starbucks,” said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, in the press release. “With the launch of the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks we can now provide the same classic coffeehouse experience and compelling music offerings our customers have come to expect from us through a new platform ideal for the digital music consumer. This is the first step in combining the power of brick and mortar retail and digital music.”

“Song of the Day” kicks off Starbucks exclusive partnership with Apple, which lets customers use the T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi Network at participating Starbucks to wirelessly download music onto their iPhone, iPod touch or laptop from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store with no Wi-Fi connection fees or HotSpot login required.

Starbucks will also introduce a new “Now Playing” feature, which allows customers using the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks to instantly preview, buy, and download the music currently playing overhead. This is the only technology of its kind that allows customers to download the music they discover in the environment around them.

“Song of the Day” will offer hand-picked songs from top artists including Bob Dylan, Joss Stone, Dave Matthews, Bebel Gilberto, John Mayer, KT Tunstall, John Legend, Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell, Keith Urban and Paul McCartney plus great music from up-and-coming artists such as Sia, Band of Horses, Hilary McRae, Frederico Aubele and Sara Bareilles.

Each morning and while supplies last, Starbucks customers nationwide can discover that day’s complimentary download as part of their daily coffee routine. Upon receiving their complimentary download card at Starbucks, customers will have until the end of the calendar year to redeem the song on the U.S. iTunes Store.

Starting October 2, Starbucks company-operated locations in the U.S. will offer iTunes Digital Release Cards for sale, including KT Tunstall’s “Drastic Fantastic” with bonus music videos, digital booklet and a behind-the-scenes documentary video, and music from the film “Into the Wild,” featuring all new songs from Eddie Vedder with bonus tracks and digital booklet. Each iTunes Digital Release Card contains a full album’s worth of music and features collectible artwork. After the card is activated upon purchase at Starbucks, customers can download the album and bonus material on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC.

Starbucks will also offer the Starbucks Card Plus Two, a limited edition re-loadable Starbucks card with added bonus value. When a Starbucks Card Plus Two is registered online the cardholder will receive two complimentary song downloads of their choice on the U.S. iTunes Store.

The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks will continue its national rollout to 350 Starbucks stores in the San Francisco Bay area in early November; 500 stores in Los Angeles in early February 2008; 300 stores in Chicago in March 2008; and additional markets throughout the U.S. later in 2008. The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at Starbucks will run on the robust T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi network, which is available at participating Starbucks locations across the U.S.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s new iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is expected to go live for iPhone before the end of September. The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store will offer music fans the ability to browse, search, preview, purchase and download songs and albums from the iTunes Music Store over a Wi-Fi network directly onto their iPod touch or iPhone. With the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, music fans will be able to start enjoying their music purchases immediately on their iPod touch or iPhone with no computer required. Once they connect their iPod touch or iPhone back to their Mac or PC, downloaded music will automatically sync back into their iTunes library. If users have only partially downloaded a song or album onto their iPod touch or iPhone, their computer will complete the download automatically. Prices and selection on the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store are the same as on the regular iTunes Store.

[UPDATE: 11:43pm EDT: Added “for iPhone” to Note above.]


  1. Does Starbucks have a contract with T-Mobile that forces it to acknowledge what company supplies it’s wi-fi internet connection? What seems to be irrelevant trivia to me appears in every story about this Apple/Starbucks initiative. Who cares who Starbuck’s ISP is?

  2. in the beginning when the partnership w/ starsucks was announced, i thought “a partnership thats not even worth a penny” but now i realize, altho the coffee in the shop might not be even close to mediocre, they are doing some goodwill to customers who overpay for their products without having to pay that extra.

    offtopic: but does anyone know a good (and i mean really exquisite) coffee shop in manhattan that is worth every penny?

  3. “Apple’s new iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is expected to go live before the end of September.”

    Actually, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is live now for the iPod touch and has been since its release. It’s coming by the end of Sept. for the iPhone.

  4. This is a super deal for Starbucks…after the halo spreads. Anyone who comes in because of this or anyone who comes in period will go up to the counter and purchase a quadruple marked up cup of liquid gold coffee that costs them pennies. Guaranteed to pay for itself and much more.

  5. Is there any other vendor that can deliver as many wifi hotspots in as many good locations in as comfortable a setting around the US and globe as Starbucks? How is anyone else going to catch up to Apple and its iPods and iPhones? I think this is a bigger deal than most.

  6. I wonder if you will be able to use the open WiFi for your laptop? It looks like the iPhone will connect automatically to their WiFi service without paying T-Mobile any charges. They may have somehow tied it to the iPhone through a secure key.

  7. Has anyone noted how cleverly Apple has wrapped DRM into this new system? Since iPods have been one-way thus far (only get music on them), the iTunes app + computer processor were used to wrap DRM around the songs.

    While this new WiFi store seems to break that DRM scheme, it actually doesn’t: you can’t hook the iPhone/Touch up to any computer but your own or it will reset itself, and when it syncs back to your home computer, iTunes will then add the DRM to the files.

    Very clever indeed, though I have to feel some enterprising hacker will figure out a way to extract the songs from an iPhone/Touch before iTunes gets its hands on them.

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