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Starbucks partners with Spotify to create in-store ‘music ecosystem’

THREE MONTHS AGO, Starbucks killed the CD. The company announced in February that it would stop selling physical albums at its registers, a move that surely struck fear into the acoustic-guitar-covered hearts of indie artists everywhere. But no one should have been surprised: Starbucks has always been at the forefront of tech, surprisingly so for a gigantic multinational coffee shop.

Today, Starbucks is announcing its move into the future of music, bringing its tunes up to par with its fancy Clover brewing machines and app-based payment game. To do so, Starbucks is partnering with Spotify in a big way. The two announced only the beginnings of what they call “a next-generation music ecosystem,” and promised many more details soon. On the surface, though, it appears that they want to work together to make music more interactive and discoverable.

Starting this fall, Spotify will become the default music source in all 7,000 company-owned Starbucks stores in the US (with the UK and Canada to follow). All employees will be given a Spotify Premium subscription, normally $10 a month, which they’ll use to help set the music that gets played in stores. “We’re really making the barista the D.J. here,” CEO Daniel Ek said on a conference call. But customers play a role, too: They’ll also be able to suggest songs for the playlist.

Are we about to see far fewer headphones in Starbucks, as customers listen in to their crowdsourced playlists? Possibly—Starbucks employees are already tweeting excitedly about the new perk. (This may also be due to the fact it means they can prevent the same seven songs from playing on repeat all day.)

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