Spotify-Starbucks partnership brings rewards to fans of both companies

starbucks and spotify 300wStarbucks, which has a long history as a music purveyor within its larger mission of caffeinating the world, today announced a partnership with on-demand music service Spotify. The alliance is trumpeted as a “First-of-its-kind music ecosystem.”

Starbucks rewards regular customers registered in the My Starbucks Rewards (MSR) program with occasional free drinks, and the reward concept anchors the new partnership. First, Starbucks employees will get free Spotify Premium subscriptions — that’s 150,000 new Spotify sign-ups. To motivate use, the employees will access special tools in Spotify to help program in-store listening.

Starbucks playlists will be available in the Starbucks mobile app, as well as in Spotify (in a Starbucks-branded section).

Existing Spotify users will be offered a “Stars as Currency” program that transfers Spotify use to Starbucks rewards. Details of how that will work are not yet disclosed. This will be the first time Starbucks rewards are accessible from a third-party digital system.

The partnership will start being visible this fall in the U.S., as Spotify Premium is promoted in Starbucks stores. The digital rollout of plan specifics will follow that. The whole plan will expand to Canada and the U.K. next.

A couple of timing notes should be observed. First, Spotify is nailing down this important distribution agreement less than a month before Apple (reportedly) will relaunch Beats Music as Apple Music, the company’s first on-demand music service. Second, Spotify is not finished with announcement this week. Tomorrow the company is holding an “Event” in its New York office. the last time Spotify did this was December, 2013, when it unlocked Spotify Free on mobile devices and changed the definition of “freemium” music — a service level that remains controversial today. So stay tuned for Spotify news tomorrow.

Brad Hill