back to article Sony 'fesses to Whitney Houston price hike 'error'

Sony Music has finally issued a statement on hiking the price of tragic pop songstress Whitney Houston's albums after her death, apologising for the "error" in the iTunes listing. On Monday, reporters fell over themselves to reveal that the price of Houston's Ultimate Collection had gone from £4.99 to £7.99 in the UK's Apple …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greedy barstewards

    Another black mark against a media company

    1. Vic

      Re: Greedy barstewards

      > Another black mark against a media company

      And which media company? Is it one that's pissed us off in the past?



    2. cocknee

      Re: Greedy barstewards

      "Some defended Apple on the basis that it had no control over the pricing for third-party material from its online store"

      Yeah right, what gullible fanboi's believe that tosh!

      However, even though I'm far from a fan of Smaug's Cupertino lair and it's dodgy practices - I couldn't care less in this instance. Yawnnnn ZZZZZzzzzzzz

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Greedy barstewards

      No. Say thank you to Stelyos of EasyJet fame. Automatic dynamic pricing algorithms based on demand.

      Everyone runs them nowdays so the jump in demand immediately caused a jump in the price.

      There was no human intervention.

      As far as "greedy", you are wrong here. These algos on average cause price drops. The reason why we can buy "old" stuff at 3.99 a pop when it was 7.99 a few years ago is exactly that - it is dynamically priced so its price drops by itself once it is no longer "fresh". If not for the algo you would have had to wait for a human to get around and think of a new price for it which could have happen in a year's time or in 10 years time or maybe never.

      1. Brian Davies

        Re: Re: Greedy barstewards

        Odd that Amazons algorithms missed it!

      2. Falcon

        Re: Re: Greedy barstewards

        "On averages cause price drops". Excuse me, don't companies use these algorithms to increase their overall profits? Otherwise why would they do it? I'm sure that there are good deals to be had, but the purpose of this automatic price structuring is to *capitalise* on consumer trends.

        Is this immoral?

        1. Shakje


          So you don't see that if something isn't being bought, it could actually generate more money if a lower price means more people buy it?

          If you can't get it, here's a quick example:

          Album costs £10 and 5 people buy it, price is reduced to £5 and 20 people buy it because it seems cheap, especially given its previous cost.

          It doesn't surprise me at all that they cause price drops on average, an album has large sales in the first week or so, then drops off. As interest wanes you get a price drop, I don't see why an album would, under normal circumstances, or on average, ever go upwards.

          1. Mad Mike

            Re: @Falcon

            Shakje. You seem to miss a very important part of making money. Your logic works fine to a point, but the price still has to be high enough to make a profit and the totality of the profit needs to make sense.

            So, if the production cost is say £4.



            At this point, your theory breaks down depending on what the company is striving to achieve. If they're looking for profit, your argument fails. If they're looking for turnover, it works. Most companies prefer profit, therefore it's not generating money that matters, but generating profit.

            1. BoldMan

              Re: Re: @Falcon

              And your production cost doesn't always stay the same!

              Anyway from a profit perspective

              (£5-£4)*20 = £20

              is better than

              (£5-£4)*0 = £0

              1. Mad Mike

                Re: Re: Re: @Falcon

                Errr. I think you got your sums wrong. I think the second one should have been (£10-£4)*0=£0.

                It really a depends on whether we're talking about something physical or digital and the numbers involved. If it's physical, the problem gets a lot worse as production costs are normally only sensible if a certain minimum number are produced. Basically, it's a lot more complex than the originally quoted idea of maximise income about profit, which was specified.

                In the car industry, the value of components has nothing to do with the actual production cost of the component. If it's a part for a new model, the price is high regardless. People have a lot of money invested in their car and want to get it working again, therefore are willing to pay a relatively high price to repair them. Once the car gets older, it's value plummets and the price of component does as well. Simply because if the car is only worth £500, you can't charge £200 for say an exhaust (to use one common example). People simply won't pay it, will scrap the car, and buy another one for £500.

                It's industry specific and far more complicated than just ship the largest value amount of product possible.

                1. Vic

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: @Falcon

                  > Simply because if the car is only worth £500, you can't charge £200

                  Never owned a Citroen, have you?

                  I used to drive XMs. I'd pay about £200 per car - it was cheap motoring.

                  But if *anything* broke that I couldn't fix, it was a write-off. A spare part would often cost more than a replacement car.


        2. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Re: Re: Greedy barstewards

          Why yes, yes they do.

          This is the real world implementation of that famous "long tail", trying to drum up demand and a bit of profit out of shit that very few people want and which owes you fuck all. Things go down in price as they get older and less popular, in an attempt to get those who thought about it earlier and decided it was too expensive at the time to cough up some shekels and thus embiggening the tail. Of course it was invented waaaaay before the long tail "idea" itself was.......

          Here we see it working the other way, as the tail wags the dog so to speak.

  2. Mad Mike

    Why is anybody surprised?

    What else did people think would happen? This is hardly the first time. I've found the price of music for the recently deceased often gets increased. It's endemic in the industry and not just Sony. To these immoral people, a death is simply good advertising and an opportunity to make more money.

    And they wonder why people hate them.............................

    1. Aaron Em

      Well they are there

      to make money, after all. And why not? Let me be the first to disabuse you of the notion that Sony Music Entertainment is a nonprofit organization -- it's one of the titans of a legendarily scummy business; what a surprise that they'd do something sleazy like bump the price on Whitney Houston records just in time to make a little extra profit off people with some disposable income to burn. Why not save the ejaculations of outrage for something like CD rootkits, where it's warranted, and let this kind of penny-ante crap slide? I think you'll find you have a much happier life for it.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Well they are there

        I agree this is not the most major of issues and there are far worse, such as rootkits and loosing loads of personal data. However, they all go to show a corporate attitude, morality and general business ethos. The more we highlight that, the better. Believe me, I have been very vocal around the other two subjects as well. Nobody has ever said Sony should be a non-profit organisation, just that the current notion that profit is everything needs to be challenged (across all companies) and replaced with one of reasonable profits, within reasonable moral bounds. It also helps show the hypocracy in the law when Sony act all pious and holier than though about the morality of copyright theft and then do this (and worse).

        1. Figgus

          Re: Re: Well they are there

          So, you're in favor of price caps then, enforced by the government?

          So in 2020 when the minimum wage of $9.55/hour goes into effect, you'll be ok with the new MAXIMUM wage of $11.25 too? Seems a tad silly to be told you can't possibly be worth more, doesn't it?

          Thankfully, companies can ask whatever price they want, and consumers are free to not buy it... especially worthless crap like pap music (typo intentional).

          Personally, I think WH's music all sounded like someone beating a sack full of cats with a claw hammer anyhow, so they'd have to pay me to download it.

    2. Roger Varley

      Re: Why is anybody surprised?

      It's been going on for years. Whitney just looks like being the unfortunate recipient of the 41st "Annual Jim Morrison Worth More Dead Than Alive" award this year.

    3. Nigel 11

      Only a matter of time

      It's only a matter of time before you read about a music industry psychopath being charged with the murder of a formerly great artist. In fact I expect it's already happened, but they got away with it.

  3. Mondo the Magnificent

    Yea, right...

    Sony call in an "error" I call in "cashing in"

    Sure companies like to make a buck, but under these circumstances it's well beyond unethical..

    1. Aaron Em

      "Well beyond unethical"

      What the fuck? Whom did it harm?

      No, seriously -- tell me. Whom did it harm?

      Can you actually answer that question with a straight face? Are you just beating your gums together because you like the rattling noise it makes in your empty skull? Or are we all Christians now, to have this kind of hatred for the idea of making a profit?

      1. Miek

        Fwd: @Aaron Em

        I think it boils down to ethics not harm. They are trying to capitalise on someone's demise which is a rather despicable characteristic.

        1. Aaron Em

          All Christians now, then

          The pursuit of profit is sinful. Gotcha.

          1. Mad Mike

            Re: All Christians now, then

            Nobody is saying the pursuit of profit is sinful. People are simply saying there are ethical limits. It's nothing to do with christianity or any other religion. It's to do with people believing right and wrong and people are simply saying that making money out of someone dying is unethical in their eyes.

            1. Aaron Em

              Not unique at all

              Just a bit old-fashioned; I persist in viewing the present fad for progressivism as just that, which I realize is a rather unpopular view in this day and age.

              1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Hint: NOBODY CARES ABOUT WHITNEY

                Her output, as well as herself, is a product. Like a toaster. Like a Gucci bag. Comprende? If she had died a successful waitress, then.... well, then, nothing.

                Price bump? Why sure.

                The only ones that "care" are those trying to push "racism", the "exploitin' by da evil 1% capitalists" and some crying and wailing about the misunderstood downtrodden "creative ones" into the thin 5-minute wedge of opportunity that this here life termination event offers.

                1. Aaron Em

                  Re: Hint: NOBODY CARES ABOUT WHITNEY

                  Shush now, you'll upset the kiddies.

          2. NellyD

            Which are you?

            The pursuit of profit off the back of a human beings death isn't sinful? Unless you're a taxidermist, mortician or a total merchant banker of course.

          3. Tim 2

            Re: All Christians now, then

            Obviously that does not apply in the US. The Republican party and the Christian Right are tightly linked. Big Business and PROFITS! are also tightly linked with the Republican party. For examples, see the statements made by the current Republican hopefuls who are in the midst of primary elections.

            1. Figgus

              @Tim 2

              "Obviously that does not apply in the US. The Republican party and the Christian Right are tightly linked. Big Business and PROFITS! are also tightly linked with the Republican party. For examples, see the statements made by the current Republican hopefuls who are in the midst of primary elections."

              Yeah, those FOOLS! Don't they know that nobody needs profits or income, as long as tax revenue can be misappropriated to pay your way in life instead.

              Business? Profits? Sounds a little to much like "work" for most people, much better to just suckle at the public teat and get it all for free... Right?

      2. Mad Mike

        Re: "Well beyond unethical"

        It's about making a profit within reasonable ethics. The laws of a country are based on ethics of a reasonable majority and how people want society to work (or at least they used to be). That's why murder is illegal; for ethical reasons. So, people are suggesting that this sort of profiteering under these circumstances are unethical and shouldn't happen either. This is especially true of an organisation that seeks to preach to others around the ethics of copyright violation, which then does this!!

        1. Aaron Em

          Thank you, Mad Mike, for your unique contribution

          You have a truly remarkable perspective on the theory of governance, and I think I shall never forget it.

          1. Mad Mike

            Re: Thank you, Mad Mike, for your unique contribution

            You have a truly unique view of what's acceptable......I'm sure I won't forget that either.

            1. Thomas 4

              Accidents happen

              It's quite understandable.

              Someone accidentally went through the Apple library index, accidentally clicked on Whitney Houston, accidentally clicked on the set price field, accidentally deleted the old price, accidentally typed in a higher price and then accidentally clicked on the "Submit" button.

              Clumsy people in the music industry.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Accidents happen

                I had this problem with Whitney too.

                Over the weekend I was on my computer and a couple of Whitney's albums in mp3 form appeared on my computer. I know it's a silly mistake, but mistakes happen.

                I shall delete them on the same day that iTunes and Sony refund the hyped prices back to their punters

              2. Figgus

                @Thomas 4

                "LightSquared just figured they could push the cost of adapting the GPS infrastructure to their presence onto everyone else. It's the conservative/Wall Street/City mentality: privatize profits and socialize costs."

                You really think people manually set those prices? Really?


                I have some really nice land in Florida to sell you, CHEAP!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            I don't even read your posts, I just fucking downvote them. Thought I would let you know :)

            1. Figgus

              Re: @Aaron

              Well, I just went back and upvoted his posts and downvoted yours. Hopefully the few others here who can do math and understand economics will do the same.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: "Well beyond unethical"

          Please define "reasonable", especially on the profits front, so that we all agree and be happy ever after. A universal formula, that fits every occasion, every company, etc.

          Sony are scumbags, right? Right. So, are those sods paying extra for a fresh corpse, as they willfully participate and confirm it was a right move to bump up the price. They are not people who _have to_ line up for bread and who _have to_ pay any price on the risk of starvation. Those are scumbags (me, you, everybody) with disposable income, who don't really give a shit about ethics. If we did, Chine would have never become a world economy, and soon to be No 1.

      3. Eddie Edwards

        Re: "Well beyond unethical"

        Aaron, it harmed the global Sony brand. That some scum-sucking executive can make decisions like this which reflect so badly on his colleagues not only in Sony Music, but also in Sony Electronics, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Ericsson, etc. etc. Believe me, when the rootkit fiasco hit the news, I worked for SCE, and people in Sony outside Sony Music were spitting. I bet they're spitting today, too.

        Not that the outraged are particularly concerned for that aspect of this story. They just think it's poor taste on the part of Sony Music, and they'd be right.

        Post-Christianity, are we all supposed to be apologists for profit-making no matter how it is done? Please help me get this right because I'd hate for us to revert to pre-scientific ways just because we hate it when companies act tastelessly.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Well beyond unethical"

        "No, seriously -- tell me. Whom did it harm?"

        It harmed the wallets of the poor saps who, despite having access to the legal purchase of Whitney Houston Albums for years gone and years to come all suddenly rushed out to buy more on the hearing of the news of her death.

        Don't you wish you'd bought Elvis albums when you heard he'd died? They can't be bought for love nor money these days. He's dead (allegedly) so obviously the albums died with him.

  4. 0laf

    I'm sure they're not rushing around in the background to produce a Whitney Greatest Greatest Hits Evah!! Special edition to be sold at a considerable markup over the existing one.

    Actually they've probably saved the bathwater to be sold in vials with 1000 extra special editions that's if the hotel janitor hasn't already got it on Ebay.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SOCA busted the wrong people

    SOCA, the real is fraud where millions of people are being ripped off by a cartel that bribes public officials then I suggest you look into the media industry - that is organised crime !

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: SOCA busted the wrong people

      Indeed they did. The thing I find odd is that the notice displayed says the owners of the site were arrested for fraud and that they 'stole' the music. There can only be one of two explanations. Either, SOCA displayed what the media industry told them to, or SOCA have as little knowledge of the law as the media companies. Copyright infringement is not fraud, or theft. WTF.

      Doesn't exactly help with plods public image. They look dumber by the day.

      1. dotdavid
        Thumb Up

        Re: Re: SOCA busted the wrong people

        A bit off-topic, but...

        "The thing I find odd is that the notice displayed says the owners of the site were arrested for fraud and that they 'stole' the music"

        I'm a bit concerned that the wording was so unambiguous. If this isn't some kind of joke, the operators of the site should have been arrested "on suspicion of fraud" (considering they to my knowledge have yet to be convicted) and "are accused of stealing the music".

        SOCA being a bit, well, unprofessional? Or just some hacker having a laugh?

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: Re: Re: SOCA busted the wrong people

          Well, I don't know. I know a copy of the displayed page is within the BBC article and some statements purportedly from SOCA seem to back it up. Therefore, assuming the BBC is not lying in their article, it seems to be a SOCA page. The page itself is extremely threatening as well. I'd like to believe it isn't SOCA, but knowing some coppers, I suspect it is.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Quite how the albums accidentally jumped up in cost only on the UK iTunes store and immediately after Houston's death was not explained"

    They're greedy scumbags out to make a last, quick killing before she fades into relative obscurity?

    I am surprised they stopped at 9.99 and didn't push it up to 12.99 to really make it worthwhile until they got caught!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Money grabbing ¢*nts.

    1. Ian Stephenson
      Thumb Up

      Re: $on¥

      I $ee what you did there.

  8. Ian Yates

    My only guess

    If they weren't profiteering, is that they have some kind of news-monitoring tool that ups the wholesale price if an artist is mentioned in the news X times a day.

    If true, they are probably likely to reconsider it after this ;)

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      And -my- guess

      I'll guess that music is either "full price" or "discounted", and an automatic mechanism un-discounts a title when a lot of people are buying it, since apparently something happened. And then something like this ensues.

      I don't think they'd be cross-referencing with Google News, though; surely Twitter? Oh, and with some kind of algorithm - which will now be tweaked - to distinguish between "Music is on soundtrack of breakout film" and "Artiste arrested on child pornography charge or something", with Paul Gadd being one conspicuous example.

      1. Buzzword

        Algorithmic pricing

        That was my first thought too - some kind of algorithmic pricing system which automatically hikes the price when demand surges. I can see why neither Sony nor Apple would be keen to publicise the existence of such a system; but it makes financial sense.

        1. James Loughner

          Re: Algorithmic pricing

          Sure makes sense, after all more demand means the fewer things will be available thus worth more. EXCEPT that does not apply to DIGITAL things. Its all bits people

          1. Figgus

            Re: Re: Algorithmic pricing

            More demand means they can charge more for it, since supply was unchanged.

            Hello? Basic economics?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Algorithmic pricing

          Off topic I know, but when looking at buying tickets on the Ryanair site always keep clearing your cache and remove the cookie.

          If you keep looking at the same flights the prices will also keep going up !

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Algorithmic prices

        If this is correct, this raises an interesting question - who are the morons? The company with the algorithm that ups the price on sudden demand, or all the people that didn't give enough of a crap about her to buy her music... until she died...

  9. Mike Smith

    The only error they made...

    ... was getting caught.

    And they wonder why people turn to piracy. That sort of behaviour makes it less of a crime and more of a moral obligation.

  10. John A Blackley

    I still blame.....

    Apple because it's de rigeur on this site, right?

  11. chiller

    Mistake? Yeah right, let's make some extra profit off the back of her death - shameful.

  12. Jamie Kitson


    Another story I read on the issue seemed to say that they had deliberately increased the price of the CDs, which had automatically increased the price in iTunes, and it was that automatic match which should have been noticed and has been corrected.

  13. Jamie Kitson

    Twas the BBC

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

    Dear Sony

    Please fuck off.

    1. Vic

      Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

      > Please fuck off.

      Sir appears to have omitted the obligatory "and die".


      1. Miek

        Re: Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

        I thought you had to "eat shit", not "fuck off" in order to qualify for an obligatory "and die"?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

          I remember 'FOAD' being around back in the 90s on IRC

        2. MooseNC

          Re: Re: Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

          How about "Suck shit through a tube."?

          Always loved that one... Feds was an awesome movie.

    2. Keep Refrigerated

      Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...


      Looks to me like you stole it!

      1. unitron

        Re: Re: Borrowing from another commentard on the other Sony story of today...

        Nope, merely infringed the copyright.

  15. jungle_jim

    would you?

    do something a little morally questionable if it would earn you a few quid?

    id do it if i thought i could get away with it.

  16. MJI Silver badge

    What is wrong with cashing in? (if they did)

    I do not blame them. I don't care if it was accidental or on purpose.

    If someone is going to wait until a person dies before buying their music like this perhaps they deserve it.

    My opinion is - I don't care either way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is wrong with cashing in? (if they did)

      agreed... what's the problem here?

      I suspect they have an automated pricing algorithm which puts up the price on popular searches.

      I can't believe prices are done by hand nowadays, although I'm quite surprised that most people still seem to think they are!

    2. peter 45

      Re: What is wrong with cashing in? (if they did)

      Agree. After all one can equally lambast those who o bought the music just because she is dead. In my book as morally suspect as this who cash in on her death. Sony didn't have to put the price up, and people didn't have to buy the music at that price.

  17. DrXym

    Not sure why people complain of ethics now

    If record labels were concerned about ethics they would screen and drop artists with drug problems who refused to clean up rather than looking the other way.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Not sure why people complain of ethics now

      I'd want labels to look after the talent so that they don't fall into drug abuse in the first place, and to not underpay and work them like slaves to the point where substance abuse is necessary to stimulate them into being able to give their performance. It's stars who aren't wrecked by the simple experience of being a new star performer that are atypical.

      But this is to assume that these aren't people who used naughty substances recreationally before they were ever "discovered", and are merely encouraged by sudden wealth (sometimes apparent but not real) to spend more money on the stuff than they ever could before.

      And I speak of "drugs", but Whitney Houston's death appears to be a redundant demonstration that alcohol use, legal as it is, can put you six feet under at, so to speak, a stroke. I say "redundant" becaouse it's been barely six months since Amy Wino, for instance.

      1. disgruntled yank

        Re: Re: Not sure why people complain of ethics now

        One can live comfortably off inherited wealth and damage oneself with booze and drugs. Does the name William Burroughs ring any bells in the UK? (Not that he died young--he just looked like an embalmed corpse for about 50 years.)

        Celebrity and odd hours can make the vulnerable more vulnerable. Yet are we going to blame Scribners for short life and unfortunate end of F. Scott Fitzgerald?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure why people complain of ethics now

      Taking drugs doesn't necessarily make you unethical.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Not sure why people complain of ethics now

        They'd better be "Fair Trade" drugs so that the people who grow the stuff overseas get a decent share of the proceeds. Not enough people think of that.

        Of course, you can also grow cannabis in a heated space in a temperate climate - but are they using renewable energy to do it? Probably not! Look, the police usually find those places by aerial observation with an infra-red camera to find houses and other properties that are wasting a lot of heat radiated from the roof. Thereb's no need for that, surely.

        So, no, I don't think there's much ethics in the drug industry. And they kill people rather a lot as well.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freetards Vs Corporates

    When you see behaviour like this, you can't help but sympathise with the freetards who want to download everything for free. It#s almost a war of attrition.

    I'm sure this incident will be quoted every time some music industry mouthpiece argues that illegal downloads are killing music.

    Still, nice to see that after 20 years of the Internet in people's lives, large multinationals are still behaving like this without it occurring to them they'll be busted within hours. The same people who led their own industry to the abattoir in the 90s and 00s.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Does this mean another decade of pathetic wankers still ranting on about this, like they still are about CD Copy protection "rootkits" from a decade ago?

    1. Aaron Em

      Re: Yay...

      No, this doesn't mean that; they'd do it anyway, this is but a handy excuse, and the really nice part about it is that you get to blame Sony, with perfect self-righteousness, for doing the exact same thing you yourself are actually doing, because they made money out of it, while you are on the side of God and all His angels -- the latter's winged assistance, no doubt, explaining how it is that Sony's footmarks on the back of Ms. Houston's fresh corpse are the spoor of hideous evil, while one's own tracks left on same are merely the tangible evidence of virtue.

  20. qwertyuiop

    Who made you buy it?

    Whilst I agree that this is a pretty sh*tty thing to do, why is anybody surprised? This is just the basic rules of economics - when the demand for something increases then the seller can increase the price.

    What I don't understand:

    - if you were a big fan of Whitney Houston surely you would have her albums already?

    - if you weren't such a big fan of hers that you already had the albums and it's taken her death to prompt you to buy them then what are you complaining about? You went to iTune$, saw the price AND DECIDED IT WAS A PRICE YOU WERE PREPARED TO PAY. So what's your complaint? Nobody FORCED you to buy at that price.

  21. Cameron Colley

    Regarding ethics.

    I was under the impression that it was illegal for a US corporation to base it's decisions on anything other than shareholder profit? So in this case the US legal system and an automatic pricing algorithm are to blame.

    That's not to say that record companies aren't scum, just that ethically they have to be scum.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who cares

    £7.99, £3.99 or even £0.0000000009 is still vastly inflated in my book for dross.

  23. Ned Fowden

    to be honest ...

    if your only reason for buying this is because she recently died then you deserve to be fleeced out of a couple of £$€

  24. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    In this case,

    'mistakenly' refers to the mistaken belief that they could get away with it without anyone noticing.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    I think it was a very responsible thing to do.

    At a time when Whitney playing is becoming an increasing problem - the fallout all over TV and radio only too visible - raising the price is a certain way to reduce consumption and ease the burden on the emergency services (who might have to enter a pub playing this shite).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is anyone surprised?

    At the record company meeting

    On their hands - a dead star

    And oh, the plans they weave

    And oh, the sickening greed

    (Someone had to post it)

  27. Scarborough Dave

    Probably some yield system on back catalogs

    If you get a surge in demand for an already discounted back catalog item, then the system ramps the price up!

    Capitalisim at its best! :)

  28. Shonko Kid
    Black Helicopters

    Trend spotting bot to blame?

    Is it possible they've got an experimental bot that monitors twitter trends, and matches them to iTunes store items? So if any of their artists start to trend the price auto-magically gets a bump? Seems all to plausible.

  29. John Munyard

    Poor exploitation

    The least Sony could have done would be to have dug up a few crappy extra tracks that never made it first time around and added them to the CD.

    I mean that's what they did with Amy Winehouse and everyone wowed about that....

  30. Anonymous Coward

    So Sony thought that.....

    "The Greatest Love of All" was about money? :)

    Let me also insert obligatory swipe that Sony was just following the RIAA pricing guide! :)

    More seriously, this is poor optics, but from a business standpoint I can see why they would raise prices some to cash in on the free publicity.

  31. KBeee

    I should imagine that most Sony Music people (much like TV Execs.) don't listen to music (boast about refusing to have a TV in the house) and rely on software to make decisions for them. There's usually a Darwinian "Survival of the Fittest" argument here, in that "if it makes money, it must be good". The same argument could be used to promote slavery of course - I FED and HOUSED them for 2 years while all they had to do was make my products, and when they wanted to leave they only owed me 1 years wages... Such altruism...

    Wasn't Sony Music the company that thought that putting root kits onto P.C.'s from legitimately bought C.D.'s was OK, and the only thing they did wrong was getting caught? And they still believe they did nothing wrong.

    And yet morally bankrupt corporations are still spouting "morals" to us.

  32. Ilgaz

    Is it because I am foreigner?

    "Whitney Houston product" in Sony statement sounds very disrespectful. Isn't there a better way to say it? I mean she is a recently deceased human being, not a pack of chips.

  33. TkH11

    Supply and Demand Model

    "No. Say thank you to Stelyos of EasyJet fame. Automatic dynamic pricing algorithms based on demand."

    That dynamic model is valid and acceptable for goods which are being manufactured, it's the simple supply and demand principle. The greater the demand, the price goes up because there's not enough manufacturing capacity. And you can't overcome that lack of capacity particularly easily or quickly.

    But for electronic media which is being downloaded? Come-on, let's get real.

    It's simply an algorithm to rip people off. The concept is no longer valid when it comes to downloads.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity reigns supreme

    Sony knows how to cash in on a singer's death. Funny how few really cared about Houston until she died... now they race to buy here albums.

    While we don't know the cause of her death yet, it's pretty safe to conclude that her coke habit didn't extend her life any. She needed to get whatever Mick Jagger has been using... ;)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    at all the idiots that think this was some kind of manual decision.

    Clearly it's a dynamic pricing system that sets the price based on demand (or some other factor like media noise....) However when something happens on a weekend, there is nobody there to push the cancel button.

    But then hey, it's Sony, so knock-yourself out,, we all know how fashionable Microsoft's made it to hate Sony. Even El-Reg love to jumpaboard the bandwagon, posting totally non-IT stories like this...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LOL

      So dynamic pricing algorithm on Internet product has no IT angle?

  36. J. R. Hartley

    Lying bastards!!

    as per title.

  37. Dick Emery

    Prior 'art'.

    Everybody knows that when an artist dies the price of their 'produce' goes up surely? The Tate etc are filled with valuable 'art' made even more so by the fact that the artists are now deceased.

  38. Winkypop Silver badge

    Re: Re: Re; Electric goat jam

    It's the music industry, they like to shaft everyone, alive and dead.

  39. MooseNC


    Okay, let's put it this way;

    Starting price to read an article on El Reg is $1.

    Ten people read it; goes up to $2.

    Twenty? Well, that's $4.

    Supply and demand, right?

    Except in this case, we're talking about something that is UNLIMITED.

    If I had an unlimited supply of gold that I pulled out of a manx cats tailless ass, what do you think would happen to the price of gold?

    Sony just trying to make money off of some chick that had her heyday more than a decade ago and then lost her voice (Crack smoking; thank you Bobby) and sounded like an alley cat that got run over by some RoTM Renault.

    They gots to be making bank, yo!

    75-90% of people saw the price hike, and just did a google search for "Whitney Houston"

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Roses increase tenfold in price for valentines day due to people wanting them, why not profit from a new demand on dead singers works? The Jackson, Presley and Spencer families all made a profit from their loved ones deaths, and Sony, EMI and souvenir hunters put more money into promoting them than the families ever did, just getting a good return on their investments

  41. Purlieu

    re: Simple

    There's a world of difference between a bunch of roses and the still-warm corpse of a pop star. But perhaps ethics are not you stong subject.

  42. min

    So the woman's dead...

    and demand for her music has increased for some odd reason. do people feel some moral obligation to formalize their love for the dead artist by buying her music when, for the last few years, they've probably thought she is a sad and washed up fart teetering on the verge of a life-expunging event. maybe there are a few from a new generation who've truly just discovered her, but that is probably a small amount of the people who're buying her music now.

    the rest of them, i reckon, are joining the boat-party of faux grief. which is pathetic.

    i know i'll get down-voted, but i could not care less about a long term drug addict finally (and successfully) putting herself out of whatever misery causes her to trip out all day long.

    as for the record company..they're just taking advantage of what they know is the inevitable deluge of attention that her death would have brought. callous, yes, but not the worst thing in the world. what they SHOULD have done, though, was reduced the price of the music in order to let these short terms 'fans' to celebrate the artistic life of the addict for a little while before the next wash up rolls along.

    some similar hysteria took place when that horrid Amy Wine-river died and she's obscure as truffles now.

    both the buyers and the record companies are dubious in my book and i'm not afraid to be hated for feeling that way.

  43. Bernard M. Orwell

    Prepares coat....

    Problem? We have a Houston...

  44. The Original Cactus

    Cynical, moi?

    The one thing I took away from this story is that I could (if I wanted) buy Whitney Houston compilations on iTunes for four or five quid. You can't buy that kind of advertising.

  45. Spider

    My initial reaction to this was " mistakenly mis-priced"? My fat hairy arse it was, you lying thieving gits. Much as many of the comments I've read so far....

    then, after the brief glow of righteous indignation had faded it does occur to me,

    it's not an essential good. You do not require a Whitney album to survive. It is discretionary and a luxury item.

    Companies exist to do business and make profit, and if the sheeple in their faux grief at the loss of an alleged lesbian drug addled singer are prepared to pay then why shouldn't a company take that market on? After all they are not a charity.

    Should we also cap prices on fleabay of people clearing out whitney tat from their attics? where's the difference?

    Ultimately they can put any price they like on a good or service. No-one is forced to buy it.

    1. Mad Mike


      To a point, I don't disagree, but there has to be a limit on what is acceptable and the question is, where's that line. Some will find almost anything acceptable, others have a very moral and righteous perspective. You could say funeral directors are making a profit out of a dead person.........

      I guess it depends a bit on how obviously it's done. Because this was highly obvious and done by a company that's already hated, it's got a certain response. The equivalent would be a funeral director talking to you about your dead relative and then saying the price in the brochure has gone up by 20% because it's your mum etc.

      Sony have a proven history of being morally bankrupt in just about every way, treating their customers like dirt and generally doing anything for money. This is just another potential example. To all of those saying this was automatic, I don't believe it. They knew what they were doing and their statement actually supports that. If it were an automated process, they would have said so in their statement as this is far more justifiable and defencible than what they actually said. They would have said, 'An automated process mistakenly adjusted the price. We've now corrected that and refunded the difference for anybody who purchased it at the wrong price'.

      That would have been great PR for Sony and would have shown an entirely different face. Their failure to take the obvious and defencible position very strongly suggests automation wasn't involved.

      There has to be some sort of morality brought back into business, as otherwise, things will just continue to get worse and worse in the rampant drive towards profit. Yes, make a profit, but a sensible and reasonable one within reasonable moral grounds. If energy companies are making huge profits (and they are!!) out of gas and electricity, are they not at least a little culpable for the poor pensioners freezing to death for lack of money to pay for it? There has to be a moral compass somewhere.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess that explains...

    ...why all of a sudden every radio was playing a twenty year old song the other day. It is possible the DJs explained she'd popped it, but as it was all in a foreign language I remained clueless until I came here to get my dose of IT news.

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