Latte Lessons From Starbucks to Tower Records

When Tower Records finally ran out of steam and closed its doors it made me think of how unthinkable it was that such a large record store could go belly up. Maybe one store. Maybe a chain, but even though Tower Records was the chain that closed its doors forever everyone knows all record stores are in big trouble. Big trouble because the majority of the next generation loves the convenience of the virtual record store and because, frankly, record stores have lost their reason for being. Contrast that to Starbucks -- perhaps the prototypical remnant of the genre -- and you see a glimpse of the future. Starbucks -- the coffee company -- sold 800,000 copies of Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" alone. When Starbucks either partners with labels or sells existing product, the sales go up -- sometimes way up. Next for Starbucks -- books, movies and even better, producing movies. What's in their coffee that makes them so creative and what hemlock were record store owners taking that made them forget that they marched into the turn of the century with -- well, only records -- CDs -- upon which to continue a once prosperous business. That's one lesson: fail to grow with the imagination, technology and potential of a new generation and you become history as record stores are finding out. Leave your creativity in the past and your future will be bankruptcy. Creative bankruptcy comes before financial bankruptcy. Radio, records, publishing and television -- are you paying attention?