02 March 2009

BMG and the Nick-of-Time Return of Sony Catalog Titles

For those not in the know, Sony and BMG merged a few years ago.  At the time, Sony controlled all kinds of operations, including (but hardly limited to) moviemaking Sony Films, Columbia Productions, Tri-Star Productions; music lables like Epic Records, Columbia Records and Sony Nashville; video game platform PlayStation; and the Columbia House music and DVD mail order clubs.  When they merged with BMG--which was a full-on, 50/50 operation, never one in which either side had more control than the other--there were conflicting ideas of how to manage the empire.  Sony wanted to absorb BMG resources into the fold; BMG stubbornly clung to the notion that they were still in charge of their own destiny.

To that end, BMG blocked Sony's efforts to co-manage their mutual resources.  For instance, BMG allowed music owned by the two corporations to be sold on the X-Box Marketplace but not for the PlayStation.  What really got me, though, was that all Sony-BMG music titles disappeared from the BMG Music Club.  No Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson on Columbia.  No Brooks & Dunn or Alan Jackson on Arista.  No Waylon Jennings on RCA!  I don't know how fans of other genres fared, other than I know that Bruce Springsteen disappeared entirely.  The only exceptions were a handful of current releases, priced at $14 or so apiece as Premium Titles.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with the BMG Music Club.  I love being able to order several CD's at a time with a ridiculous discount and free shipping once a year; they hate that I generally take about eleven months to ever pay for said order.  (It's not my fault they continue to allow me to click "Bill Me" when ordering!)  I recently just paid for an order from last year, as a matter of fact, and I was even contemplating cancelling my account.  I mean, at this point, with no Sony-owned titles, there wasn't much left that interested me that I didn't already have.  It would even be just as reasonable--if not moreso--to purchase digitally from Amazon or iTunes henceforth to keep up with the few artists still stocked by BMG Music Club.

And then, today, I got an e-mail invitation to pick a random discount: 70%, 80% or 90% off.  I snagged 80% off, and began browsing.  Lo and behold, quietly included in my browsing, were some Columbia Records titles of the Man in Black!  The return isn't complete by any means; they've added the 16 Biggest Hits collection of Waylon & Willie, but otherwise they've yet to expand their offerings of the original Outlaw.  And The Boss is still restricted to three Premium Titles, but I'm hopeful that this is a sign that better things are coming.

1 comment:

  1. ...And now the whole thing is for naught! I was informed via e-mail just tonight that the BMG Music Club is, in fact, going the way of the dodo. They quit offering music points as of 31 January (I'm at 15, 4 shy of the requisite 19 to place a freebie order); if you have enough to qualify for a free purchase, you'll want to get that in before 19 April. The club itself will take its final orders on 30 April.

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