Columbia House Blues (long!)

Richard Flohil rflohil@INFORAMP.NET
Sat Nov 4 13:41:52 EST 1995


Yes, Barry's list of blues records available via Columbia House looks
modestly interesting, although most fans with any kidn of extensive
collection will have most of them. The problem I have is with the very
concept of "record clubs" (there are two of 'em, now BMG has joined the
fray).
        In Canada, 30 per cent of all the record sales in the country are
through these two organizations, who get their customers with "10 CDs for a
penny" offers and major advertising programmes. My guess that the figure in
the US will be slightly less-maybe 25 per cent.
        So how can these clubs make any money? They do so because they pay
the artists and the composers (and/or their estates) drastically reduced
royalty rates, with no apprecaible long-term savings to you and I, the end
customers. Thus the creative people who make the music get hit. The clubs
don't give a twopenny fart about music; they are large, huge, impersonal
direct mail operations. Period.
        The record clubs argue that they are providing a service to people
who live in communities where there are no record stores, or where records
are only available in limited quantities in department stores-it was this
rationale that sucked in the record companies to marketing their output in
this way. (Of course, the BMG operation is owned by BMG-better known to
most as RCA, still-and Columbia House is owned 50-50 by Sony Music and
Time/Warner).
        But for blues buyers, I'd suggest that patronizing specialist
stores (or the big stores with decent repertoire like Towers) is better
than dealing with record clubs. In the end, the "savings" of record clubs
are largely illusiory, and it's the artists that get hit. And if you live
in smaller communities, there are dozens of mail order services out there
who offer far greater repertoires of available music. (I used to deal with
Down Home Music, Arhoolie's subsidiary-now owned by Frank Scott I believe.
Their catalogue was wonderful to behold, and full of solid, helpful
information,  but by the time I had paid up in Canajun dollars (worth about
70 cents US) and handled the postage, I was better off buying in my home
town of Toronto, where there are wonderful mainline stores-HMV and
Sam's-and some distinguished independent stores, most notably Kops
Kollectibles.)
        But I'm copnvinced record clubs are a scam-and one built on the
backs of the people who create the music. Comments, experiences, blah blah
blah??? -Cheers, Richard (the Elder)
PS: This is the handle that Richard the Younger (Waterman) has christened
me, and I'm adopting it. Not that there's a hell of a lot of difference in
our years....




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