Columbia House Finally Aware That No One Buys CDs, Declares Bankruptcy
Columbia House, the mail-order music and DVD retailer that once offered 8 CDs for a penny, has officially filed for bankruptcy in 2015 — which means they're somehow still around.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company earned a scant $17 million this past year. While that may seem like a fair amount of money for those of us harassed by the fine collectors at Sallie Mae on a consistent basis, allow us to put that number in perspective for you: Back when Columbia House was at its peak, its revenue boasted sales of $1.4 billion.
The company's director, Glenn Lanberg, commented on the filing, saying (via Uproxx), “This decline is directly attributable to a confluence of market factors that substantially altered the manner in which consumers purchase and listen to music, as well as the way consumers purchase and watch movies and television series at home.”
At this point, Columbia House’s sole service is their DVD club -- which currently consists of 110,000 members -- as they discontinued their CD and cassette offerings back in 2010. The invention of the iPod and the popularity of streaming services has warranted most music retailers obsolete (RIP Virgin Megastores everywhere), as far as CD sales are concerned. Vinyl, however, has made a significant resurgence in popularity over the past few years, indicating that people are still willing to buy physical albums (just not CDs).
Columbia House’s former art director Mark Rubenstein also commented on the company’s bankruptcy, saying their downfall can be attributed to a refusal to adapt to the way music consumption has evolved over time: “The thing I remember most is their unwillingness to change with the times. The writing was on the wall. They either didn’t see the writing or didn’t want to read it.”