How Starbucks’ Howard Shultz and your daily coffee killed CDs

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Howard Shultz is no stranger to accusation. In addition to bearing the burden of blame for allowing the beloved Seattle Supersonics of the National Basketball Association to be stolen by a group of nefarious Oklahoma City businessman – led by nogoodnik Clay Bennett – back in 2008, Shultz has also shouldered the blame for such diverse offenses as driving mom and pop coffee shops out of business, disparaging the economy of the United Kingdom and depleting the ozone layer (okay we made up the last one). Sure it’s easy to blame the rich for our problems. And with a fortune valued at more than $1 billion (that’s 250,000,000 lattes), Shultz definitely fits that bill.

We at American Rock Scene, however, believe there is an even more sinister attack on our American way of life being perpetuated by Shultz, whether inadvertent or not.

Everybody knows that sales of music CDs in the past 15 years have plummeted. What was once a thriving industry, has become a shell of itself. Gone are the days of multi-platinum debuts and bands selling upwards of a million records. The blame for this has been placed mostly on downloads, with many customers purchasing electronic MP3s (or just illegally downloading them) rather than actual CDs. We think Starbucks Coffee and Shultz are to blame.

Let’s take a look back to when CD’s and the music industry itself started to falter, back in the mid-1990s. Remember how if you wanted coffee it was at Denny’s or Winchell’s for about a buck a cup, tops?  Sure, there were specialty coffee shops around but the business model of putting them on every block had not been invented yet.

Enter Starbucks. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

A fair amount of people spend about four or five dollars per day on their caffeine fix. That’s about one vente, extra-shot, non-fat, extra-foam, 180-degree, touch of vanilla latte, with two sugars and a sprinkle of cinnamon. By the end of the month what was once an indulgence has now become a necessity to the tune of $100 to $150.

So lets’ sum up, shall we. Jump back to 1994, when a healthy music industry was pumping out CDs at about $12 bucks a pop (give or take, this is an opinion piece not exact science. Relax.) Meanwhile, you’re getting your coffee fix at the local donut shop at about a buck a cup. So you’re paying about $30 a month for your caffeine jones, leaving you with about $70 to $120 in cash to throw away on Ace of Base and Hootie and the Blowfish CDs. That’s anywhere from six to 10 CDs a month, times 12 months that’s from 72-120 CDs a month, times the population of…well you get the picture.

So the next time you hear the RIAA or any other music insider group placing blame for the sorry state of the music industry at the foot of illegal downloaders, or Napster or even iTunes, remember that you read it here.

It’s all Shultz’s fault. Thanks Howard.

Green and Gold forever!


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