Carly Simon loses Starbucks lawsuit for second time

By | Published on Monday 13 December 2010

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.

As previously reported, Simon is pissed off that the coffee giant basically shut down its music operation, a joint venture with Concord Music Group, just as her 2008 album ‘This Kind Of Love’ was released by it. As a result, Simon argues, Starbucks failed to do any of the marketing activity around the record that had been promised, resulting in lacklustre sales.

Starbucks hit back by saying it didn’t have any marketing commitments to Simon with regards the record. The company didn’t have a direct contractual arrangement with the singer, and her contract with Hear Music specifically removed Starbucks itself from having any liability with regards the extent and success of the album’s marketing.

Although a judge ruled in favour of the coffee firm back in June based on the specifics of the contract between Simon and Hear Music, the singer was given the opportunity to resubmit her claim with more information. She did just that, listing all the times Starbucks execs had reassured her about their commitment to their music projects and specifically to marketing her album.

However, a second judge ruled last week that none of that changed the fact the contract she signed clearly said Starbucks could not be held liable for her record’s marketing, and Simon’s second lawsuit was duly dismissed.

Given how much Starbucks raved about its big move into music when it first launched their label venture – this is the future of music, and all that – a project the company is now basically playing down as being a simple marketing partnership with a record distributor, you can see why Simon is a bit pissed off, even if the coffee firm is contractually in the right.

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.