Sony price hike of Whitney Houston album sparks controversy

“Sony Music has come under fire after it increased the price of a Whitney Houston album on Apple’s iTunes Store hours after the singer was found dead,” Josh Halliday reports for The Guardian.

“The music giant is understood to have lifted the wholesale price of Houston’s greatest hits album, The Ultimate Collection, at about 4am California time on Sunday,” Halliday reports. “This meant that the iTunes retail price of the album automatically increased from £4.99 to £7.99.”

Halliday reports, “Houston’s The Ultimate Collection, originally released in 1997, was the second top-selling album on iTunes on Monday morning. Apple returned the album to its original price late on Sunday. Music fans described the move as a cynical attempt to capitalise on Houston’s in-demand greatest hits records… One insider close to the situation said the price hike was not a “cynical” move – but that the wholesale price of Houston’s The Ultimate Collection was wrong. The change in wholesale price boosted the album’s retail price on iTunes.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Whitney Houston’s music tops Apple’s iTunes Store sales – February 12, 2012

55 Comments

    1. It’s not a question of supply and demand. Indeed, they own the rights. AND they can do with them as they please.

      But don’t defend them form the criticism that they were being opportunistic and crass. It was crass and opportunistic.

    2. Demand only, it’s digital thus unlimited supply and it went from 4.99 pounds to 7.99 pounds. Pure price gouging based on her death and the demand for her music.

        1. I wouldn’t worry too much at this stage: judging by the quality of some of the music about, I’d say they’re recycling many of those 1’s and 0’s and reusing them

      1. You all missed the “Supply” side — it’s not an unlimited number of digital copies which can be downloaded, but Sony is the only one who can supply Whitney Houston albums. That’s the supply — EMI, Warner Bros., etc. can’t jack the price because they don’t have Whitney Houston albums to sell.

            1. @omalanski … your point was directed at the wrong person. You should be berating Sony! The comment above was harmless and directed at the “buyers”!! … and some of us thought it was quite funny! Sony is where your opinion should be directed towards. So look who’s demonstrating poor taste….

            2. So you’re saying that it is in poor taste to call attention to a tasteless remark just because other people thought it was funny? That’s a good one!

              Sony’s actions were reprehensible in their own insignificant way, but that’s another issue.

            3. At a time like this? What time is it, exactly? How much time should pass before I mention that Whitney’s music was kind of crap? I think the news might have already gotten out.
              But anyway, I’d rather make two people laugh than one omalansky not look down his big long nose at me. Frankly, chickpea, your praise win’t worth it.

      1. Um, pretty simple you guys: if supply goes up price comes down. If demand goes up price goes up.

        Doesn’t depend on both. Either are fine by themselves. If I could make unlimited numbers of cars for free, but people were willing to buy them, I would be justified in setting a price, even though it’s free to me.

        Sony has an album. Demand goes up. So they raise the price. Makes sense to me. Whether its morally correct is a different matter, but economically it makes plenty of sense to me.

        By the way, no one’s mentioned that in a way the supply is now limited because there won’t be new Houston albums. So there! :p

        1. See, this is the real problem: Too many people simply brush aside the question of whether this kind of behavior is morally correct. It certainly is the way things are, but it’s not enough to say that it makes “economic sense” to charge whatever price the market will bear. Economic sense to the manufacturers, maybe, but certainly not to consumers. We are way too conditioned as a society not to question the moral basis for anything. How can this be a good thing?!

          1. i agree that the question seems important and worthy of more attention, but what are you going to do? Make it illegal to charge people more when people want something more?

            Then again, taking advantage of the untimely death of a troubled, talented woman who struggled so, does feel just wrong…

            I’ve changed my mind. Sony made a mistake there.

      1. Sorry @3l3c7ro, but Isaaac’s reaction is entirely expected and mainstream. I know of no bigger incentive for pirating media that the CUSTOMER ABUSE perpetrated by the RIAA companies, including Sony. OF COURSE customers retaliate when they’re treated like shite! This is basic human behavior, Psych 101.

        And of course the dead stooopid RIAA companies respond with ever more parasitic and draconian customer abuse. That is what ACTA and SOPA/PIPA are all about. Frack the customers and artists! Just hand over the dough you filthy little peasants! 👿

  1. This was nothing other than Sony recognizing an opportunity to further make a return on their investment. The fine free market loving readership of MDN should be fully supportive of capitalism at work.

    1. Also, free market businesses recognize the value of their reputation and the value of good P.R., not just opportunities to further a return on investment. This damages both, so is an example of what NOT to do in a free market economy. Dropping the price at such a time is a better business move, not raising it. That increases unit sales, rather than straight sales dollars. Increased unit sales translates to higher sales dollars versus raising the price, pissing off your potential customers, and reducing demand.

  2. The fuckers should have REDUCED the price of the album, in memorium of Whitney’s tragic death, to honor her memory and talent. That would have shown some class- something like the SONY of old…

  3. If Sony would have done something classy like donating all (or a significant portion) of the price increase to a Houston-approved charity, it would have been a win-win for everyone. But for me to dream about the record labels doing something human makes me very naive.

  4. So, is Apple going to steal the “iTV” name from the British company that owns the rights to the name???? And has told Apple that they had better not try. Sounds like something Sony might do………..right?

    1. There is already another thread for this topic. And as people have mentioned there: Apple already has a product called “Apple TV” so it’s not clear they would choose “iTV”; Apple has not announced any new products yet; and iTV has put out an official statement that they haven’t warned Apple about anything. Weak straw-man argument.

  5. Whitney’s children deserve to get money from the sale of her albums.

    Sony, buy raising the price, gave Whitney’s children 25% mor return on each Album sale.

    After the price increase, her children made 5¢ an album instead of the usual 4¢ per album sold.

    Sony, gotta love them.

    1. You know, that’s the only logical reason I can see for the standard rush to buy an artists work after he/she dies. I mean, either you liked Whitney Houston’s music or you didn’t. If you liked it, why haven’t you bought the albums already? And it’s not like they’re going to run out now that she’s gone.

      ——RM

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