You’re a pain – Simon loses coffee appeal

January 2011


Carly Simon has failed for a second time to win damages from Starbucks over the release of her album by their short-lived music venture Hear Music in a case that provides a stark warning to artists over the pitfalls of some of the new and as yet untested business models. Simon had become angry with Hear, a joint venture between Starbucks and Concorde Music Group, when the promised promotion for her album ‘This Kind of Love’ failed to materialise. Starbucks responded by saying that it didn’t have any marketing commitments to Simon with regards the record as the company didn’t have a direct contractual arrangement with the singer, and her contract with Hear Music specifically excluded Starbucks from having any liability for the  album’s marketing. In the first hearing the court ruled in favour of the coffee firm but Simon was given the chance to resubmit. Despite evidence that Starbucks executives had reassured Simon about their commitment to their music projects and to marketing ‘This Kind of Love’ the court again ruled that the contract did not make Starbucks liable for marketing the album. CMU Daily offered this wise advice – “If nothing else, it’s a lesson to other artists taking a brand’s pound: however excited a brand manager seems about your music venture when you do the deal, be prepared to be written off as a boring old marketing campaign two years later”.

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