They were a great revenge prank to ‘gift’ to people you hated. Full collections of easy-country showed up at a neighbors house one day. I still don’t know how that happened
I got that and also somehow managed to slip The Downward Spiral past the scrutiny of my mother. It was part of that deal or a similar one that I scored DVDs for Akira and Ghost in the Shell and the very awesome PC game Baldur’s Gate.
Did remember they were NOT regular retail tapes or CDs, as they have different ISBN codes. Though they look mostly identical. I remember asking a music shop and apparently the Columbia House items are worth 10-15% less than the regular retail stuff. I could be remembering it wrong though.
I was too young to remember the details, but after seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers on Beavis and Butthead, I found some album of theirs in one of those CD catalogues. I asked for it when my Godmother was visiting and she reeeeaaaally fucked with my potential musical trajectory that day.
Back in college a friend and I were re-assessing Speak English or Die and concluded it didn’t hold up at all, not even as ironic humor. Anyway, he made the same observation about that album as you did about the Frampton record. You’d go and visit someone’s house, you already know this person’s more into New Order, Dead or Alive, Book of Love etc., and yet there’s Speak English or Die sitting in front of the other records. (OTOH I doubt Columbia House ever sold it.)
The model started with books, actually. The Book of the Month Club started in 1926. In the 1980s, I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club. Similar idea to the music ones. You got a bunch of books for cheap in the beginning, then you had to buy a certain number at full price to fulfill the contract. They still exist, apparently, but have fortunately dropped the annoying “negative response” system that resulted in so many unwanted purchases.
I almost got a job for them first thing after college. Glad I ended up with NASA instead. :3
I worked for a large independent record label in the 90’s, and we had a deal with BMG for one of our bigger artists. I was just a small cog there, so I didn’t know all the details, but one of the guys in the production department sort of bemoaned the deal, saying there was something illusory about it. But it also definitely acted to boost sales numbers and help the release climb the charts in Billboard, so it was a benefit to the artist, and I got the impression it was a licensing deal, so we didn’t have to do any manufacturing.
Some things to remember about these clubs: cd manufacturing was cheap, less than a dollar each in bulk, and for a company like RCA it would be cheaper because they owned their own factories. The $2.75 shipping and handling fee more than made up the cost of the item plus shipping and warehousing, etc.
Plus, while happy mutants here have discerning tastes, an awful lot of Americans have lazy pedestrian tastes in music. They would gladly let the marketing department at BMG or Columbia House do their shopping for them. Despite all the people who would try to screw Columbia out of freebies, enough folks would pay the $17.98 plus S&H for the latest Madonna or Clint Black cd. And lets say you’re someone into crappy jazz fusion and you live in a market where there isn’t a radio station playing “smooth jazz”, getting the new Kenny G or George Winston soundalike every month would be A-OK.
Still got my cassette copy of Husker Du’s ‘Warehouse Songs and Stories’ my mom let me add to her order way back in the olden days of the '90s. At the time it was not the raging punk rock I was looking for but in my slightly older age it is now one of my fave Husker albums.
Speaking of days of yore, I can also remember when supermarkets had a record & tape (& for that matter, video game) section.
It would not surprise me in the least if there were kickbacks paid to the record execs, so they could still get paid on the freebies while the artists were screwed.
My own experience with Columbia House; selecting a metal album from a band I’d never heard of because, well… “England’s loudest band!” has got to be good, right?
Also, I remember a service that existed around 1992 or so, where for a nominal fee they would record a mix cassette for you with a handful of songs you picked. Somewhere, I’ve got a tape with early Blind Melon, GWAR, and I can’t remember what else.
The ex-husband bought over 200 8-tracks from Columbia House.
It worked out to about the same amount we’d pay at the local record store, and the thrill of getting packages in the mail gave it extra value, or so we thought. It was the seventies, so we might have been too stoned to really think any of it through.
My dear and long departed dog Ladybird not only benefitted from the albums, but at one point actually DID get a credit card.
she only used it for dog toys, and paid faithfully every month. ---- sadly, younger me let it lapse into obscurity, when I COULD have been building an alternative identity for when I make my break for it…
'bout as well as cruel shoes.
I was a member for a while right out of college, 78-79 or so. I bought my first post-college stereo from them – something with an 8-track player, I think, and a Donna Summer album.
I worked for Columbia House in the early 2000s. It was a nice place to work before BMG direct bought them out and shut them down.
I joined as they were phasing out cassettes and we’re big into CDs and DVDs but left right before BluRays came about.
not Ladybird - she was FIERCE!
and did not mind the oddball credit card toy purchases…
thank you for the vintage Steve — we need more of that nowadays…
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