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Columbia House Is Ready to Rule the Record Business. Again.

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Before there was iTunes or Spotify, there was Columbia House—a mail-order music delivery service that gave its subscribers the opportunity to grow their record, cassette, and eventually CD collections for just pennies (literally) in a pre-streaming world. Yes, back in the latter half of the 20th century, music lovers who chose to join the ranks of Columbia House members could buy 11 albums for the low, low price of one penny. Columbia House would often even throw in a 12th album for free, just as long as you promised to remain a loyal subscriber. With the advent of digital music services, Columbia House hit a rough patch in 2000, which culminated in a bankruptcy filing earlier this year. But thanks to a renewed interest in vinyl, and a new owner, Columbia House is poised to make a comeback.

“You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format,” new owner John Lippman told The Wall Street Journal. “Convenience is not the end-all be-all in experiencing media.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl record sales increased by about 52 percent over the previous year in the first half of 2015. While vinyl only accounts for about seven percent of all music sales, Lippman—a former Wall Street executive who acquired the company for $1.5 million during a bankruptcy auction—believes Columbia House can capitalize on this growing trend.

There are no firm details on how the business model of Columbia House’s new vinyl record club will differ from its previous incarnation yet, but reports are pointing to it resembling a book-of-the-month club with subscribers having “some ability to choose the records, genres of music and possibly other types of media they receive," according to Lippman. Columbia House is already hinting that its re-launch will happen in 2016. And vinyl lovers everywhere seem supportive of the endeavor.

“We support the vinyl culture,” Sharon Bechor, owner of New York City’s Rock and Soul DJ Equipment & Records, told The Wall Street Journal. “I’m rooting for it.”

[h/t The Verge]

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This Just In
Police Recover Nearly 100 Artifacts Stolen From John Lennon’s Estate
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Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images

A collection of artifacts stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including diaries, glasses, and handwritten music, has been recovered by German police, the Associated Press reports. After arresting the first suspect, law enforcement is now working to apprehend a second person of interest in the case.

The nearly 100 items went missing from the New York home of the late Beatles star’s widow Yoko Ono in 2006. Years later, German police were tipped off to their whereabouts when a bankruptcy administrator came across the haul in the storage facility of a Berlin auction house. The three leather-bound diaries that were recovered are dated 1975, 1979, and 1980. One entry refers to Lennon’s famous nude photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and another was written the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was shot and killed. In addition to the journals, police retrieved two pairs of his iconic glasses, a 1965 recording of a Beatles concert, a 1952 school book, contract documents for the copyright of the song “I’m the Greatest”, handwritten scores for "Woman" and "Just Like Starting Over”, and a cigarette case.

German authorities flew to New York to have Ono verify the items' authenticity. "She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her,” prosecutor Susann Wettley told AP. When the objects will be returned to Ono is still unclear.

The first suspect, a 58-year-old German businessman from Turkey, was arrested Monday, November 21, following a raid of his house and vehicles. The second suspect is one of Ono's former chauffeurs who has a past conviction related to the theft. Police officers are hoping to extradite him from his current home in Turkey before moving forward with the case.

[h/t AP]

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Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics
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Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.

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