Bob Dylan and Starbucks: A Sign of the Changin' Times

Davis readily concedes that he does not have a degree in marketing and business and that his strategy, though effective, seems simple and logical. He said he hopes to have Mannheim Steamroller's music sold in Starbucks one day, like Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Alanis Morissette and others.

"It's an excellent way to market CDs," he said. "While people are waiting on line for cappuccinos, they can't help but browse and take a look at the groovy mugs that are being sold or take a look at the other cool things. … And Starbucks is such a strong brand that it kind of gives an automatic stamp of approval."

And besides established stars like Dylan and Morissette, some up-and-coming artists have hoped that stamp of approval rubs off on them in CD sales. Female folk rock band Antigone Rising recorded its live acoustic CD exclusively for Starbucks and has sold more than 65,000 copies while getting exposure on VH1. Soul singer-songwriter Amos Lee has sold approximately a fifth of his self-titled debut out of Starbucks. Starbucks enjoyed success with CD sales, most notably with Ray Charles' final recording "Genius Loves Company," which has sold 775,000 copies.

Exposure That Knocks on Heaven's Door

Today's release of Dylan's "Live at The Gaslight 1962" coincides with the simultaneous release of the soundtrack to "Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," Martin Scorsese's feature-length film on the music legend that will premiere on PBS' American Masters series in September.

The soundtrack will be sold in both Starbucks and in traditional music retail stories. So, besides having the opportunity to capitalize on his own legend and months of press about the Starbucks deal, Dylan gets two platforms -- traditional and alternative -- to sell CDs. And sales may increase after the Scorsese film premieres.

With that kind of exposure, who needs ringtones?

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