In August, Columbia House filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, bringing an end to a legacy that began in 1955 as the Columbia Record Club. Only a few months later, the brand is being resurrected, but likely not in the way many would have suspected.
Earlier this month John Lippman, a former Lehman Brothers executive, purchased the company at auction for $1.5 million. While many might try to repurpose the brand as a Spotify clone or even return to its former business of selling CDs and DVDs for suspiciously low prices, Lippman has something else in mind.
Columbia House will relaunch as a vinyl-only offering, The Wall Street Journal reports. While initially surprising, this does make some amount of sense, considering the recent boom in vinyl. We reported in September that while CD sales continue to decline, vinyl sales we up 52 percent from the previous year, with over $222 million in revenue.
“You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format,” Lippman says, explaining the decision to transition Columbia House to a vinyl-focused service. “For a category that is meaningful and growing rapidly, you don’t see a whole lot of choice.”
Instead, Lippman plans to appeal to millenials and others who have shown a new interest in vinyl, rather than those still polishing their classic LPs. Of course, this means using social media to market the revived Columbia House.
Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music still make more money than physical media when it comes to music, but Columbia House likely wouldn’t have had much of a chance against the competition if Lippman had chosen that route. As the recent sale of Rdio to its rival Pandora showed, even with a good offering, streaming isn’t always a safe bet.
Whether or not Columbia House will return to its classic business practices and will soon be selling you 10 albums for $1 remains to be seen, but we’re curious to see what the future has in store for the brand.