Bye Bye BMG

It is the end of an era.

My primary source of new music for more than ten years – BMG music service – is shutting down.

Well not really, they are just changing their name and their business model. They are metamorphosing into “” a monthly-subscription club that they have been running for a while and are encouraging BMG members to migrate to.

So what has changed?

  • Gone is the infamous “12 for the price of 1” deal that so many (not I) took advantage of… several times.
  • Gone are the horribly inflated 4th class shipping charges (I did not realize that there was such a thing as 4th class mail until I got CDs from them).
  • Gone is the “Featured Selection” that is sent to you every few weeks whether you asked for it or not.
  • Gone are the music points that allowed you to snag free CDs for only the shipping cost.
  • Gone are the 60-65-70%-off-with-free-shipping sales.
  • Gone are the ridiculously-priced $18 CDs. This is a good thing.
  • New: a “Membership fee” of $6.99 a month. For this, they send you the first “available” CD in your “queue” (a la Netflix). This is a good thing.
  • If there is nothing in your queue you still pay, but get nothing. This is a bad thing.
  • Additional CDs are $6.99 each. This is a good thing.
  • Multiple CD sets, on the other hand, cost $6.99 per CD. This is a very bad thing.

What hasn’t changed?

  • Same website layout
  • Same pathetic selection.
  • Same non-existent customer service.

Which begs the question: why is this particular leopard changing its spots?

I think I have the answer; or at least an answer based on my experience. I came to the realization some years ago that if you didn’t buy anything from them for long enough, they would eventually do a sale. I then stopped buying their full-price offerings and only bought stuff in the sale. I made quite a few bux selling CDs on eBay this way, but all good things must come to an end. It occurs to me that if others started behaving the same way, then BMG would have found themselves selling very little product at full price, then experiencing an avalanche at sale time. This may have hurt their profits, in which case they cannot go on like this forever.

Other theories:

  • BMG Music has acquired such a bad reputation among some people that they are hoping that if they change their name the great unwashed won’t notice.
  • They enticed members with “2 CDs every year for life” and no longer wish to honor the agreement.
  • They figured out that the $6.99/month “subscription” arrangement is more profitable than selling stuff than you may or may not buy (if this is the case, they will make it difficult to cancel your membership).
  • It was not profitable hawking $20 CDs to people who only buy stuff when it is on sale.

More information here and here.

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