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Starbucks has offloaded its music tentacle Hear Music just a year after pulling off a major coup in signing Paul McCartney to the label, Variety reports.

The coffee monolith has turned over the operation to Concord Music Group, its partner in the venture, in what it described as "a restructuring of its entertainment business to focus on digital strategy and core content with music and books".

The company added it would "look for ways to increase Wi-Fi related offerings and other in-store technology" - presumably a reference to its deal with Apple to roll out the iTunes Music Store in coffee houses across the US.

The low-key announcement is in marked contrast to last year's fanfaring of Starbucks' entry into the music business. On signing to Hear Music, McCartney said he was "impressed with Hear Music's plan to use Starbucks' 13,500 retail outlets to sell the album", and enthused: "For me, the great thing is the commitment and the passion and the love of music, which as an artist is good to see."

Glen Barros, president of Concord Music Group, declared: "This is a pretty powerful new platform, when you can reach 44 million customers per week through Starbucks stores."

Hear Music also released albums by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor last year, and has "four or five" offerings slated for a 2008 release, including a disc by British R&B singer James Hunter. ®

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