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Paul McCartney Becomes First Artist to Sign with New Starbucks Record Label

From Liverpool to lattes: Sir Paul McCartney has become the first artist to sign with Starbucks' new record label, Hear Music.

Chairman Howard Schultz announced the news March 21 at the coffee company's annual meeting in Seattle, Washington.

The 64-year-old ex-Beatle appeared via satellite from London, saying the move reflected the changing nature of music marketing. Current U.S. album sales are down almost 17 percent from last year, in the face of competition from Internet piracy and competing media.

McCartney, currently enduring a bitter divorce from Heather Mills, said he hopes to release the still-untitled album in early June.

Starbucks is the world's largest specialty coffee retailer. The chain has already struck successful marketing deals with other musical acts, while also selling books and developing a feature-length film.

Hear Music releases will be sold through Starbucks stores and other music retailers.