Back in April, Columbia House Music Club filed for bankruptcy, with mail-order tapes and CDs a thing of the distant past. Now, after months of insolvency proceedings, Columbia House is planning a comeback, with vinyl. “You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format,” current Columbia House owner John Lippman told the Wall Street Journal. “Convenience is not the end-all be-all in experiencing media.”
So far, it looks like Columbia House will re-launch in early 2016, with some sort of packaged, mail order vinyl offering. Whether that’s the ’12 albums for a penny’ deal of yester-century is unclear, though Lippman is probably working on something that skips the middleman retailer.
That model made Columbia a successful proposition in the past, though vinyl is a different animal. For starters, quantities of vinyl are far lower than the millions of LPs, tapes, and CDs sold in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Indeed, vinyl is pricey compared to CDs, and availability is oftentimes choked by manufacturing bottlenecks (an issue that is slowly being solved by some guys in Germany).
Right now, Columbia House is teasing the possibilities. “Coming Soon,” a placeholder on columbiahouserecordclub.com reads. “One of the most iconic names in music will return in 2016.”
Meanwhile, vinyl sales continue to surge, attracting ambitious, risk-taking entrepreneurs like Lippman. The format boomed more than 50 percent during the first half of 2015, according to US-based stats from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Even more interestingly, the high-yielding format now trumps the revenues received from ad-supported streaming (also according to the RIAA).
Overall, however, vinyl remains pretty small. At last count, the format accounted for roughly 7% of total recording sales, but crashing CDs and downloads could push vinyl into the double-digits by next year.