Thursday, January 8, 2009

BMG Music Club No Longer Taking New Members

You may be saying to yourself "Self, I didn't even realize that this club was still around!" --or-- "People still buy CDs?!?" --or-- "What's that?" But still, this is an inevitable passing, and I feel somewhat nostalgic about it. At one time I had a Columbia House membership AND BMG membership, all inn an effort to hoard as many mainstream CDs as possible. If anyone remembers the history of these clubs, at one time they truly served a great purpose: to get music to as many people as possible. You may not believe this if you were born in the last 15-25 years, but at one time there was NO INTERNET. and many smaller towns didn't have any way for a music fan to score the latest B-52's album. Radio played 40 crappy songs over and over. Enter these clubs. All of a sudden, some kid in rural Iowa (or in my case, central Illinois) could have a big cardboard box of free music delivered to his or her door, whatever sounded interesting to him/her.

Actually I had these memberships, and you could get more free CDs if you signed up a friend. So I also had a membership at work. At my grandma's house. At my girlfriend's house. Fulfill your membership, cancel, wait for the "We want you back" cards, "We'll give you more free CDs if you come back" mailer, sign back up, start the game all over again. It's called working the system, folks. Hell, I'm surprised I did not personally run these companies out of business.

But I am truly grateful for the clubs. Many times when ordering my 15 free CDs I only wanted a couple of the ones listed, and then I would try a bunch more, based on title, something I had read about, or a cool cover. This was the way I experienced Hank Williams, George Jones, the Allman Brothers, and many, many more for the first time. I wasn't hearing many of the artists I tried on the radio, or on MTV (once it was on the air). Each release, when it was good, was a kaleidoscope of sound that surprised and delighted. And if it sucked, eh. It was practically free. I remember wondering how many others even knew about some of these bands, as crazy as it sounds.

BMG, Columbia House, I salute you. Your time has passed, but once upon a time you were like an Amish Internet to me, a cornucopia of unknown thrills. Rather than mourn your passing, I delight in the memories you gave me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an old Tom Waits "Heart of Saturday Night" CD to play. An old friend sent it to me, even though I had never heard it before, and all it cost me was $3.95 shipping and handling.

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