Starbucks outgoing ceo Howard Schultz loves a wide variety of music, but he feels a particular affection for the classic vocal pop and jazz of his youth.
“When I was a kid growing up, my parents had a small turntable in the house and the constant music was Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole and Billy Eckstine,” said Schultz. “It was a constant array of that kind of music. The music that came later for me has to be threaded in lyrics and things that move me.
“I think we did such a good job early on making music part of the third place of Starbucks,” Schultz said. “I think we were one of the first retail companies to realize that music could elevate an environment. And I think it helped our partners (employees) find a rhythm.
“When I walk into a store and I hear music that I feel is right for the moment and is upbeat, it really elevates the human spirit. That’s how we all feel about music.”
Here are just 10 of the favorite artists Schultz features on his playlist and the reason behind his picks:
Frank Sinatra – “Sinatra to me was everything – and still is. My favorite song more often than not is ‘Summer Wind.’
Leon Bridges – “You forget how young some of these people are. Leon is 27. He’s younger than my two kids. His song ’River’ is so spiritual and so soulful.”
Common – “I have been so impressed with his level of commitment to race relations, humanity and certainly Opportunity Youth. He’s a very humble person who just wants to elevate the national conversation by using his music and his poetry.”
U2 – “I have more interest in U2 because of their social consciousness and the work that Bono has done with (RED). I really admire what he and the band are trying to do, which is not unlike Starbucks: Use our scale and platform for good.”
Rhiannon Giddens – “No one knows her. Rhiannon I think is so talented and so raw. Something about that music I just think is so powerful.”
Barbra Streisand – “‘People’ – I just remember that song so well. She’s so iconic. And she’s from Brooklyn. Also the duet she sang with Neil Diamond – ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.’ That’s another Brooklyn guy.”
Lady Gaga – “My daughter was the first one who told me about Lady Gaga, maybe 10 years ago. I’d never heard of her. I remember realizing this was a truly special person.”
Paul McCartney – “Can anyone walk in his shoes and know what’s it’s been like to be a Beatle and change the world like he and three other men did?”
The Beatles – “I love the Beatles. Anything on ‘The White Album.’ I could put that whole album on my playlist.”
Schultz’ playlist can be heard overhead at Starbucks® stores beginning March 30. Customers can use the Starbucks® mobile app to discover music playing overhead at Starbucks stores, save songs to their personal playlists on Spotify and listen to Starbucks music anywhere they go on Spotify.
The Starbucks Guest DJ Series gives artists selected by the Starbucks Entertainment team the opportunity to select the music heard overhead in the company’s U.S. stores. Previous Guest DJs include Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, Corinne Bailey Rae and Troye Sivan.