If you are of a certain age, you must of seen the ads in the magazines (remember magazines?). You know the ones, “10 Albums For A Penny”. Well my brother and I certainly did and when one of my brother’s friends told us how we can get out of the minimum purchase requirement, we were in. We both ordered a whole bunch of records, some of which had a lasting impact on my musical development. Some of the albums we got through the Columbia House introduction deals (as well as it’s competitor RCA Music) included Disraeli Gears (Cream), Tommy (The Who), Woodstock (the soundtrack), Johnny Winter (the first Columbia album) and Climbing! (Mountain). After we did this a couple of times our parents found out about us “cheating” and made us stop, fearing that the police would come and take us away (that didn’t happen till later).
I find the economics of the music industry fascinating (and as a musician, incredibly depressing). The videos below explore one of the little known aspects of what I call the Entertainment Industrial Complex.
What happened to Columbia House music club? And were their record pressings really that bad?
How Columbia House Sold 12 CDs For A Penny