The announcement that former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has been named as the first signing to the Starbucks record label makes me feel disappointed.

The Hear Music label is planning to sign new and established acts after the success of the the Grammy award-winning Genius Loves Company of duets by the late Ray Charles.

It is fair to say that you don’t get more established than Sir Paul McCartney and the signing is undoubtedly an important coup for the coffee house chain.

However, with continuing criticism of Starbucks’ ethical credentials and concerns over the use of fair trade coffee, Macca’s decision to join up seems a little curious. It is certainly at odds with the ex-Beatle’s own impressive track record on promoting environmental awareness and ethical consumerism.

Macca’s new album, due out in June, was guaranteed a high profile anyway as he is still regarded as one of the most important and influential acts.

But with Starbucks operating 13,000 stores worldwide – including four hybrid Hear Music coffeehouses – where customers can purchase music and burn it to CDs and the chain’s deal to have a branded page at Apple’s online iTunes store, he has a potential customer base of an estimated 44 million-strong around the world to attract.

And yet it still doesn’t seem right for him or us.


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