It was the deal of the century! That is, last century. As of this week, Columbia House Music Club is bankrupt, and one step closer to the grave. Columbia, previously absorbed by one-time rival BMG Music Club, is now owned by Filmed Entertainment Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Monday.
Columbia retired all mail-order music in 2010, but kept a DVD division running. According to court papers, that still attracts 110,000 members, though it’s unclear how active those members were. During it’s heyday in the 80s and 90s, Columbia House famously offered a stack of cassettes or CDs for 1 penny, then aggressively direct-sold full-priced releases.
Revenues peaked in 1996 at $1.4 billion, according to details gleaned by the Wall Street Journal. Last year, revenues were $17 million, with no regular employees and all operations outsourced.