Restaurants Put More Music On The Menu

Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. And for at least two restaurant chains, music also hath charms to extend the brand, especially to tech-savvy customers toting MP3 players.

Last week, Starbucks Coffee Co. began offering downloads of its Hear Music catalog, which features classic tunes and works by new artists, on iTunes, Apple's music downloading site. Customers can purchase individual songs or entire playlists, which are compiled by the same people who choose Starbucks' in-store music selections.

"Many of our customers want to listen to our music on their iPods, and now that will be easier than ever," said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, in a press release.

Seattle-based Starbucks purchased Hear Music in 1999 and formed Starbucks Entertainment in 2004. To date, music sales account for 1 percent to 2 percent of total sales, according to published reports.

Johnny Rockets--a full-service, 1950's style burger chain--has made rock and roll part of the experience since its inception in 1986. Johnny Rockets is also offering downloads and playlists of popular music (compiled by the chain's "editorial experts") on eMusic, another music-downloading site.

The 170-unit chain, based in Lake Forest, Calif., plans to kick off its eMusic marketing campaign this month in San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Miami. The campaign will include free downloads, radio and online contests, and iPod giveaways.

The initiative began with an interactive music map on the chain's Web site,, that links current artists with the bands that influenced them.

"At Johnny Rockets music has always been an essential part of the dining experience," said Mimi Somerman, Johnny Rockets' senior vice president of marketing, in a statement. "This program is a truly great way to connect with our customers and further entrench our brand in the world of music."

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