This is my tribute to the “Now Playing” digital screens found in some Starbucks stores:

There was a time when Starbucks was actively pursuing expansion into the music and movie industry.  As the number of CDs sold at stores swelled, Starbucks began to install LCD screens at hundreds of stores, mostly in California, Washington, New York, and a few in New Jersey also.  By 2006, Starbucks launched a tiny number of “flagship” HEAR Music stores, with CD burning stations, an abundance of CDs, and music listening stations too.  In addition to “flagship” Hear Music stores, a very large number of stores had LCD screens so that customers could just look up, and easily see what music was playing in the stores.  These LCD screens are the “Now Playing” screens which are still found in numerous stores.  At one time, about 650 Starbucks stores had a digital flatscreen displaying the music playing in store.  And, in addition, a few stores, although not “flagship” Hear Music stores, had CD burning stations too.  I remember that a Starbucks in North Seattle along Northgate Way had a CD burning station, and I always thought it looked a little out of place.  This was several years before I started blogging, and I never thought to take a picture of the CD burning station.  I wish I had!  (By the way, that was store #358 which is featured in the photos below, and the CD burning station sat exactly where you see the condiment bar now.)

I really like the LCD screens.  No barista would ever have to run to a back office to find a song title.  It was never intrusive.  You just looked up and saw what was playing.  Sometimes, the LCD screens would be playing Starbucks-produced content with the information about the current music playing.  Starbucks produced really interesting short video content of everything from coffee farms, to coffee imagery, to you name it. had  a short segment/promotional video on the LCD screens too.  It was no more than a few seconds, but just enough not to be a distraction, but enough to introduce customers to what is.  The “Now Playing” screens often promote the Starbucks Digital Network.  When Pike Place Roast was launched, there was a Pike Place Roast video that played on the LCD.  Keep in mind, all the while, the normally-programmed music would be playing.  Despite that Pike Place Roast is my least favorite Starbucks coffee, the video for it was superb.  I loved watching it, with its rustic scenes of 1912 Pike Place, and coffee roasting imagery.

One by one, the LCD screens are disappearing.  It will be quite a while before they are all gone, but as each store gets its major remodel, the LCD screen gets pulled out, and it is not replaced.  I will miss it.  It introduced me to music, enchanted me with coffee scenes, and Starbucks-related information.  The LCD screens were enormously useful.  Partners who have stores with them, often still tell me how customers love being able to look up and just see what is playing.  Brand new stores, such as the 4th and Union Starbucks, or the new Lynnwood store, don’t have the LCD screens at all.

I am a little disappointed that Starbucks is no longer supporting the digital screens in stores.

So this is my tribute to the disappearing “Now Playing” screen at Starbucks.  Here are a few more pictures.