HITS Daily Double
"We're looking for unique music opportunities, unique projects we can provide with a quality retail distribution option."
—-Ken Lombard, Starbucks Entertainment


Hear Music Chief Resigns, New Head to be Appointed
Starbucks is bringing its entertainment division to Hollywood.

The nation's largest U.S. coffee-shop chain, which has become a formidable music force through its co-production of albums like Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company and Bob Dylan's Gaslight, said Tuesday that Don MacKinnon, its VP of Music, has resigned and that it would move the unit to L.A. from Seattle.

The company announced that MacKinnon, who ran the company's Hear Music division, left for personal reasons. In addition to MacKinnon, who leaves April 14, Starbucks Director of A&R Brenda Walker left the company the week of Feb. 20. In the interim, the content team that reported to MacKinnon will come under VP Marketing and Product Management Geoff Cottrill.

Starbucks Entertainment head Ken Lombard said the music group is relocating to be closer to record labels and musicians, and that the executive losses won't deter the company from its expansion, as they reportedly look to work with new talent after selling almost 3.5 million CDs in its cafes and music stores last year.

"We're looking for unique music opportunities, unique projects we can provide with a quality retail distribution option," Lombard told Bloomberg News. The relocation would put employees "on the ground and in the mainstream where they can be much more proactive about locating new artists."

Lombard is actively seeking a replacement for MacKinnon, who had been the head of the music group since Starbucks bought his Hear Music stores in 1999. Six of the 77 people in the entertainment division will also be moving.

There are three Starbucks Hear Music stores as well as a number of Starbucks coffee shops with "media bars" where patrons can choose from more than 1 million digital-music tracks and burn custom CDs. Other Starbucks locations typically carry a display rack with about 20 CD and DVD titles.

Starbucks has also been meeting with Hollywood studios about supporting possible film projects.

Lombard said having a presence in Los Angeles would help Starbucks "have additional conversations to build our entertainment-content pipeline." They could start by stocking up on DVDs of Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes.

Starbucks shares fell 4 cents to $36.28.