“So Long, Farewell” to Columbia House Records

August 11th, 2015 by

An early ad for Columbia House Records. (Taken from Flickr)

An early ad for Columbia House Records. (Taken from Flickr)

Columbia House Records filed for bankruptcy yesterday after more than nineteen years of decline. The company started as a mail-order music company in 1955. In 1982, the CBS video library club became a part of Columbia House records and Columbia House began to offer VHS videos in addition to music albums. Later, the company expanded to include DVDs as well and phased out the sale of albums in 2010.

Columbia House Records had been a popular source for music albums since it was founded and into the 1970s, when its membership reached numbers over 3 million. When the company began to include other types of media in its collection, it reached as many as 16 million subscribers.

Most people may remember the company as the El Dorado of record albums. It offered as many as a dozen albums for a penny, sometimes! Of course, it also was notorious for giving its subscribers a troublesome time cancelling their subscriptions. However, many may fondly remember purchasing their first few favorite albums from the provider more often than they remember their objectionable cancellation policies.

Record albums

Old record albums

Unfortunately, the owner of Columbia House Records, Filmed Entertainment Inc., has been declining since its peak in 1996 and has filed for bankruptcy. Columbia House Records had reached revenues close to 1.5 billion dollars in 1996, only to crash to a $17 million revenue just last year.

The discount DVD subscription group reports that it has been struggling to keep up with its digital streaming competitors. Of course, in an increasingly digitized world, the DVD subscription company was fortunate to make it as long as it did.