Thursday, April 9, 2015

BMG & Columbia House Music Clubs...Fine Print? Bills? No Problem

Long before Napster reared it's ugly head opening the flood gates to music sharing sites, before iTunes, before the FED's, RIAA, MPAA, NBA, NAACP, PBS or anyone else using capital letters as an identity nosed around out computers, we had Columbia House and BMG music clubs to de-value the music industry.
I was a very creative child and somewhat deprived. My mom's idea of getting that hot new tape that all the other kids are listening to was to tape it off the radio, which entailed holding an old cassette tape recorder up to a radio speaker, or even better, the TV. My copy of the soundtrack of The Sound of Music was a one of a kind recording. Just under Julie Andrews singing "My Favorite Things" you hear my dad in the background proclaiming The Sound of Music is the BEST movie ever made and my mom from another room screaming "turn that shit down!!!" My bootlegged from radio "Like a Virgin" tape was not much better thanks to mom's voice chiming in "Tell that whore to go back to Hell's Kitchen where she belongs" during "Dress You Up." Had I ever had a party, these were not really playlist worthy recordings.
So back to devaluing the music industry, pre-internet. How the hell did Columbia House or BMG ever make money? Picture it, you're flipping through Seventeen magazine and out pops a card stock postcard which reads 12 Tapes For A Penny. IN-TER-EST-ING!!!! How many more issue of Seventeen magazine are in the house?4 to 6 weeks later 4 boxes arrive in the mail addressed to variants of my name. 48 tapes, all for free!!! No more smokers cough and banging on my door followed by a voice telling me to turn that shit down. 4 weeks later, 4 different bills arrive. Bills? or Free tapes? Must be a mistake, we'll just file that into file 86. Bill Bill Bill, garbage garbage garbage.
Eight weeks later, the novelty of my 48 tapes has long since worn off...Need more tapes...Damn, I can only find 2 order cards...6 weeks later, 24 more tapes arrive in the mail. 4 weeks later, 6 bills arrive addressed to my clones. My mom asks "What are all these bills coming to you for?" My reply was "dunno!" then came the final notices times 6. Shortly after, a collection agency called North Shore started sending bills and demands for payment...What ever will I do??? I know, I'll fix it where no one will ever find out...Change of Address...Family moved to New Hampshire, no one lives there so who would ever tell?
My parents never caught onto my early life as a mail fraudster, nor do I think they understood or found a definite reason their mail seemed to have been redirected and lost for over 6 months when the forward request expired.

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