More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Columbia House owner files for Bankruptcy

“The mail-order music company that once tantalized countless broke teenagers by offering popular CDs for pocket change no longer exists,” Kim Bellware reports for The Huffington Post.

“Filmed Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Columbia House, on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is seeking to sell off the last vestiges of what was once a billion-dollar business,” Bellware reports. “Famous for its eight-CDs-for-a-penny deals, Columbia House was at the height of its popularity in the mid-’90s, when it accounted for 15 percent of all CD sales, according to The Boston Phoenix’s 2011 profile of the company. Columbia House reached its peak revenue in 1996, raking in roughly $1.4 billion that year. But the company’s fortunes have been in a steady two-decade decline, netting just $17 million last year.”

Bellware reports, “‘This decline is directly attributable to a confluence of market factors that substantially altered the manner in which consumers purchase and listen to music, as well as the way consumers purchase and watch movies and television series at home,’ FEI Director Glenn Langberg said in court papers, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once upon a time, in what feels like eons ago, we ordered up 8 CDs for a penny and then promptly cancelled our membership as soon as we fulfilled the “buy three CDs at exorbitant prices” term. Did you?

This is what disruption looks like:
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Samsung pulls plug on music, e-book store duds – May 30, 2014
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: All 300 Blockbuster retail stores to close by January – November 6, 2013
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: BlackBerry’s BBM Music is dead – April 8, 2013
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: HMV is dead – January 15, 2013
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Wal-Mart axes online music store – August 10, 2011
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Nokia pulls plug on ‘Comes With Music’ – January 17, 2011
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Sky Songs is dead – December 08, 2010
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: SpiralFrog croaks – March 19, 2009
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Total Music is dead – February 11, 2009
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Ruckus is dead – February 08, 2009
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Starz pulls plug on ‘Vongo’ – August 13, 2008
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Yahoo! Music Store is dead – July 24, 2008
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Yahoo shutters online music subscription service – February 04, 2008
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Wal-Mart pulls plug on movie download store – December 27, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Virgin Digital is dead – September 24, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: MTV’s Urge is dead – August 21, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Google pulls plug on Google Video – August 13, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Sony disconnects Connect – June 17, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: AOL Music Now folds – January 12, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Virgin shutters U.S. music service – January 05, 2007
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: MSN Music stops selling music downloads – November 03, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Japan’s Oricon bows out – November 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Tower Records liquidated – October 09, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: BuyMusic.com is dead – March 28, 2004

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tayster” for the heads up.]

24 Comments

  1. Yep. But not since mid ’90s. Used to buy Time/Life music collections (Oldies but Goodies) too. The iPod changed all that. With the advent of rap my music purchases have fallen to near zero.

    1. You know you don’t have to buy rap, right? There’s a lot of great stuff out there, though maybe not on Top 40 radio anymore.

      If you give me some stuff you like and a year in which you stopped paying attention, I can get you some solid music choices based on that. Lemme know!

  2. The prices may have seemed “exorbitant”, but averaging the cost of all CDs, including the ridiculous “shipping” prices, made the CDs about $6 each. I got the VAST majority of my 300+ CDs from BMG & Columbia House.

    1. I was a member twice and got a lot of my LPs that way. For anybody living in a smaller town without any big record stores, this was the best way to build a music library without breaking the bank. Factoring in the buy x at regular price, the net price per disc was less than list at the record stores around my hometown. Yes, you could sometimes do better with sale items at the record store, but they were always hit & miss.

      I always scoured the delete bins at the record stores and I stayed on top of the Columbia House offers so I made out well.

      The people that were unsatisfied typically were the ones that didn’t pay attention and forgot to mail back the “no thank-you” cards for the albums they didn’t want.

      Also, once you completed your “buy x more” commitment, you got discounts for every third or fourth purchase.

  3. “More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button”
    Why so accusative? Don’t demean a winner by accusing it of “MURDERING” the competition. What is wrong with you? Why cry for and support the losers? There was a time when a winner was cherished.

    1. Your thoughts about fall on deaf ears. Trust me… MDN has been this way for many, many years. As long as they continue to get ad revenue for every article, that’s all that they care about. Ask how many people would love to edit their posts… a much-desired feature for years. Never addressed.

      Back to the article, good bye Columbia House. You won’t be missed.

  4. I actually used the Columbia Laser Disc Club (remember those big 12 inch movie discs?). I got my three discs and purchased the required discs for my membership. I then got my Dad to join (for me) which got me one more free one and “his” three. I then cancelled my account. Then my Dad got my Mom (they are divorced) to join, getting me “his” free one and “her” three. and I then quit my account for my Dad. She then got me to join again getting me her free one and my own three more free ones. I then quit my account for my Mom. We went around three times. Cheap discs were great!

    For each of us (me) it was four movies for three dollars, buy two for $24.99 ea = 6 for $53.09 or $8.90 each plus shipping. Movies were $19.99 to 39.99, most were $24.99, with the ORIGINAL Star Wars theatrical releases at $54.99. Only movies at $24.99 or above counted towards your purchase agreement.

    Of course I always picked the most expensive free ones I could get and then bought the cheapest ones I could.

    I did pretty good for a poor twenty-something kid…

  5. This was a great deal at the time. I belonged to Columbia House, BMG and others. But my wall covered with over 900 cds is just a dust collector. My two new cars in the last there years haven’t had a cd in them, and I don’t even know if the players work. With Sirius XM, iPod, iPhone and thumb drives I’m all set.

  6. Wow… I used to buy from them constantly. Fulfill membership agreement, cancel, wait for ‘exclusive offer to return’, rinse and repeat.

    I thought about them the other day and wondered if they still existed in some form. Honestly, if they never converted to digital download, I’m surprised they lasted this long.

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