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Columbia House Company

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The Columbia House brand was introduced in the early 1970s by the Columbia Records division of CBS, Inc. as an umbrella for its mail-order music clubs, the primary incarnation of which was the Columbia Record Club, established in 1955. It had a significant market presence in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 2005, longtime competitor BMG Direct Marketing, Inc. (formerly the RCA Music Service or RCA Victor Record Club) purchased Columbia House and consolidated operations. In 2008, the company (as well as book club operator Bookspan) was acquired by private investment group Najafi Companies, and its name was changed to Direct Brands, Inc. Although Direct Brands shut down music mail-order operations in mid-2009, it continued to use the Columbia House brand to market videos in the U.S. and Canada, selling DVDs and Blu-rays via the controversial practice of negative option billing. DB Medias Canadian assets ceased operating on December 10, 2010, and all staff were dismissed, while U.S. operations continue as usual. In December 2012, the company was sold to Pride Tree Holdings, Inc. In 2013, the company changed its name to Filmed Entertainment Inc. The sale of the DVD division at bankruptcy auction was announced August 10, 2015. Columbia Record Club was formed in 1955 by CBS/Columbia Records as an experiment to market music directly by mail, spurring sales to rural consumers and heading off competition from mail-order companies from outside the record industry. New members to the club were enticed with a free record just for joining. To appease brick-and-mortar retailers, titles in the clubs catalog were only made available six months (later, three months) after retail release, and retailers that helped recruit members got a 20% commission. By the end of that year, the club had 125,175 members who had purchased 700,000 records ($1.174 million net). The operation grew so quickly that, in 1956, it was moved from New York City to a new home base: a distribution center in Terre Haute, Indiana, a railway-accessible city where Columbia had recently opened a record pressing facility. Within a year, the club had 687,652 members and had sold 7 million records ($14.888 million net) and, by 1963, it commanded 10% of the recorded music retail market.

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