BMG Music Service Gets the Heave-Ho



And existing members
officially get screwed starting April 30.


By Fred Mills


Amid the many musicians’ deaths that seemed to crowd the
month of December, one end-of-year passing was overlooked by all except
hard-core music industry watchers: last week the BMG Music Service indicated it
was for all intents and purposes shutting down when it announced it would no
longer be accepting new members.


For those of you with long memories, BMG Music Service is
one of those once-ubiquitous “12 albums for a penny” mail order clubs. Yours
truly recalls being a member of the Record Club of America as a teenager,
getting cool albums every month by the likes of Hendrix, Cream, Dylan, etc.
(living in a small town without much access to record stores made a club like
that a virtual necessity). More recently, habitués of used CD stores found the direct-marketing
likes of Columbia House and BMG Music Service a godsend: you could keep signing
up under fake names, each time raking in 12 CDs, then tote the swag down to the
store and trade it in for the stuff you really wanted.


According to a report by Billboard,
BMG Music Service “is no longer accepting new members” although a spokesperson
alluded to some vague “changes” aimed at working with existing members. Billboard quoted the spokesperson as
saying, “We are still very actively engaged with our existing member base
and will be making more changes to serve them…more effectively later in

The report continues, “The club’s former home page now greets visitors
with an invitation to join Direct Brands’ other music service,
which sells all CDs in its catalog for $6.99 each, but requires members to
purchase at least one CD a month.” (Direct Brands is the parent company for BMG
Music Service.)


More significant, however, is the fact that current members
who have accumulated Music Points (you’re awarded points for each purchase you
make and can redeem them later for free CDs) will not be able to use them after
April 30. So in effect, unless the record industry gets off its collective ass
and releases some decent music in the next couple of months – a scenario that
one industry source (me) terms “highly unlikely” – members are screwed.


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