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Starbucks "Very Disappointed" By Carly Simon's Lawsuit

October 14, 2009 5:52 PM ET

Yesterday news broke that Carly Simon filed a lawsuit against Starbucks claiming the coffee giant failed to market her last album, This Kind of Love, properly. Today Starbucks' vice president of brand content Chris Bruzzo responded to Simon's legal action, telling Rolling Stone that the company went out of its way to cater to Simon's requests.

"We offered Carly Simon CDs in every store that we offered Paul McCartney CDs," Bruzzo tells RS, citing the most noteworthy Hear Music exclusive, Memory Almost Full. "We put This Kind of Love into every store that sells music, which is almost every one of our stores. We're talking about more than 7,000 stores had a supply of Carly Simon CD at launch."

Most CDs stay on Starbucks shelves for four weeks, but even with sales slumping, Bruzzo says the company agreed to keep This Kind of Love stocked for six weeks, plus an additional six weeks in markets where Simon's management felt the singer had a greater audience. "Her team said, 'You know, she's got a really strong fan base in the Northeast, and in fact, she's also touring there. We'd love for you guys to extend it in New York and Boston,' " Bruzzo says. "Now this was above and beyond anything that we had committed or were required to do, but we decided to do it anyway," adding that stores in those markets stocked This Kind of Love until September, well after its release on April 29th, 2008.

Simon told the New York Times she blames Starbucks for the album's disappointing sales, but Bruzzo insists Nielsen SoundScan numbers prove that Starbucks actually helped move copies of This Kind of Love, an album that wasn't exclusive to Starbucks. By the first week of June, Starbucks had sold between 37,000 to 40,000 copies of This Kind of Love, Bruzzo says, which represents 40 to 45 percent of all the copies This Kind of Love sold at that point. For most non-exclusives sold at Starbucks, the coffee chain usually accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of the total albums sold.

Simon also argues her album was mismanaged because five days prior to its release, the company announced it was "refining their music strategy" and transferring control of Hear Music over to Concord Music Group. "That had zero impact [on the disappointing sales]," Bruzzo responds. "Imagine all the effort that they go through to getting CDs out to stores, and the market time, and the PR plans that go into launching something like that. Most of that work was not done in the last couple of days. There was months of work that led up to that and everything from carrying it in our stores." A full-page ad in the New York Times and numerous PR events were also set up by Starbucks to promote the release, Bruzzo adds.

"We're very disappointed that Carly has decided to file this suit because we worked very hard and put a lot of time, and energy, and effort from the music team and thousands of stores behind giving this album its best shot in finding its audience," Bruzzo says. "In fact, we went to kind of extraordinary lengths to work with Carly and her management to make this album do as well as we had hoped it would do." Starbucks also released a statement that reads, "We would have preferred to work this out with Ms. Simon, but it appears we are headed for litigation."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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