HP, Starbucks Team on Digital Tunes

Hewlett-Packard and Starbucks are launching next week an in-store service that lets the coffee shop chain's customers create custom CDs with songs chosen from a digital music library, the companies have announced.

The new service will be unveiled Tuesday at a press conference at Hear Music Coffeehouse in Santa Monica, California, which is owned by Starbucks. The companies are releasing few details in advance of the event.

Both Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and HP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina will participate in the event. The companies said they would give few details in advance of Tuesday's announcement, but Schultz and Don MacKinnon, Starbucks' vice president for music and entertainment, talked about the announcement at length with Business Week magazine.

In-Store Equipment

The service will let Starbucks patrons call up and listen to songs on HP PCs located in Starbucks stores and coffee shops, according to the Business Week report. Customers will reportedly be able to choose from some 250,000 songs. The service is expected to be available in about 2500 Starbucks stores within two years.

HP will also supply Starbucks with other necessary equipment for providing the service, such as CD burners and printers for the stores and back-end servers, according to Business Week.

Also on hand at the debut event on Tuesday will be recording artists Sarah Harmer and Rufus Wainwright. They are scheduled to perform on the Santa Monica Promenade after the press conference, according to the statement issued Friday by HP and Starbucks.

The coffee shop chain has long been tech-friendly, as it was one of the first retail outlets to widely implement wireless Internet access.

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