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