There’s a grinch at StarbucksIt’s not yet December but at Starbucks the Christmas season hits anybody who walks through their door like a fake snow storm . All around there are customers nursing bright red paper cups of Peppermint Mocha topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with red jimmies. You can watch cars whiz by from your third-story window seat and imagine that at any moment one of them might become Santa’s sleigh.
The background music is also tuned to a jingle-merry theme that’s sweeter than a caramel latte. Some tracks are light and springy, others have a softer, jazzier groove providing the perfect lounge music for a caffeinated Christmas party. However, there is one thing that spoils the seasonal feeling. Anxious customers can scour the first floor collection of Starbucks’ paraphernalia as hard as they like but it will not possible for them to find the famed Starbucks Music CD.
The good news is that the CDs have not sold out in some parts of the world. The bad news is that they have never been available ― at least not in Korea.
In the United States, Starbucks sells CDs and DVDs in its stores , made by its affiliate Hear Music, but these are not available in Korea. Just as in the United States, many people in Korea have asked for compilation CDs of the music that they hear at Starbucks, but laws in Korea ban food and beverage enterprises from selling items not related to their specific food type. This includes CDs, even though the Christmas season is upon us. “We need another business permit to sell CDs, which we have not obtained,” said Mick Lee, a Starbucks spokesman.
Meanwhile, those CDs played at Starbucks are technologically protected so that they cannot be copied onto pirate CDs. Each CD contains about 100 songs and can only be played on the Starbucks music player. The CDs also have an expiration date of 10 months to one year, due to copyright agreements with the musicians featured. After that period, the CD will no longer function. It’s as if the government has sent the Grinch Who Stole Christmas into Starbucks.
Starbucks music players are also “protective” of music in that regular music CDs will not play on them. “In a sense we control the music. We receive about two new CDs every month from headquarters, which ships the CDs out to all the Starbucks coffeehouses around the world,” Mr. Lee said.
“I usually carry around my iPod Nano, but when I’m at Starbucks, I take off my earphones because I enjoy the music,” said Kim Tae-bin, a food stylist. “Sometimes I ask the worker what song is playing because most of the songs aren’t those you hear on Korean radio.”
Just don’t try buying any of that music for Christmas.
by Wohn Dong-hee