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Sony Music caught inflating price for Whitney Houston album

updated 12:15 pm EST, Mon February 13, 2012

Jacked wholesale price causes spike on iTunes

Sony Music briefly inflated the price of a Whitney Houston album -- The Ultimate Collection -- only hours after the singer's death on Saturday, a Guardian report notes. The company is said to have initially raised the album's wholesale price at about 4AM on Sunday, causing its price to automatically jump at places like the iTunes Store. At the UK iTunes Store, the cost rose from 5 to 8; the album is actually an old one, a best-of compilation dating back to 1997.

Sony is said to have reviewed the Houston iTunes catalog immediately after the singer's death was announced. An inside source alleges that the label wasn't trying to be "cynical," but was instead fixing a mistake. At the same time, both The Ultimate Collection and another Houston album, 2000's The Greatest Hits, have surged on iTunes charts.

In the US, The Greatest Hits is currently sitting at second place under Grammy-winner Adele's 21. Most of the tracks on the two-disc album cost $1.29, a price usually reserved for new and/or high-profile releases.

by MacNN Staff





  1. andrewbw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So what?

    And why shouldn't they? Demand will go up as a result of her death, so it's reasonable (and within the free market) for pricing to rise as well.

  1. Viper2005

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Profiting off someone's death (especially immediately after) is highly unethical. It makes Sony look bad.

  1. King Bob On The Cob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Supply and demand don't apply here

    Supply and demand is for things that require labor and resources. Online sales of digital works require neither in the classical sense (Supply is theoretically infinite, bounded only by the amount of electricity on the planet), so in this case Sony is just trying to cash in on her death.

  1. ferdchet

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Someone tell me how this is "unethical"? Sony owns her work. Did the creation of this work not require "labor and resources"? How about the continued selling of this work? Is this data people download hosted by "electricity" alone, or does it require other things, like servers, software, administrations, network bandwidth, coders, etc.?

    Maybe what they should have done to appease everyone who thinks this way is to take her work off the market. Because any money they would make off of increased interest in Whitney would be because of her death. So in the spirit of not wanting to tarnish her legacy, just stop selling it. Maybe we should do that for other dead artists too. No more Hendrix. No more Nirvana.

    Good Lord, some of you people need to get over yourselves. Ethics. I bet you have stolen music on your computers too. Maybe you just believe in situational ethics.

  1. Quiet_Desperation

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What I find weird is when an artist's sales spike upon their death. What's up with that? Are there that many people unaware of these famous artists, who have never heard their music anywhere, who suddenly decide to try an album when the artist dies? Is it fans wanting to support... um, what? The music company and the artist's estate... I guess? (vague hand waving)

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I find it amusing that some other news sources headlined the same basic story with "Apple and Sony increasing prices for Whitney..." The irony, of course, being that Apple has very little to do with album price changes, but it's much more clickbait-worthy to headline an article with Apple doing something unpleasant rather than just Sony. MacNN, for all their journalistic failings, at least pointed the finger where it should be pointed.

    And no, there's nothing inherently unethical about Sony raising the price. It does, however, make you look like a money-grubbing scavenger waiting for an artist's death to make a tidy profit. Of course, Sony--particularly their music division--has already proven over and over that they have absolutely no shame, scruples, or even common sense when it comes to money-grubbing, so it's not like their reputation can get any worse for it.

    What IS it with the spike after somebody dies, though? I'll just assume it's younger folk who don't even remember who Kevin Costner is wondering what all the hubub is about.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969



    it seems doubtful to me that Sony could have acted that quickly to raise the prices. I suspect that they were going to do it anyway and it was just freak luck that it was kicking in that same day. Perhaps they were about to announce some kind of tour or other project Whitney was starting and figured the announcement would heighten interest in her titles.

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