Is Sony capitalising on Whitney’s demise?

February 14, 2012

AS ARTISTS LIKE George Michael will confirm, when it comes to record labels mistreating artists, Sony Music takes the cake. Now they seem to be at it again, by upping the price on Whitney Houston’s Ultimate Collection album on iTunes and Amazon,  a mere 30 minutes after her death last Saturday.

News got out that Houston had died on Saturday at the age of 48. As history has repeatedly shown, the passing of a big name muso causes a surge in demand for their music, which causes both digital and physical music sales to boom. Most recently, Michael Jackson’s catalogue went ballistic on the charts after his death.

Bizarrely, Sony Music in the UK has chosen Houston’s death to bump up the price of her album The Ultimate Collection. Prices of the album jumped by over 60%, from £4.99 to £7.99, within 30 minutes of her death, according to Digital Spy. Although the albums sticker price dropped back to £4.99 over the weekend, there’s still confusion about when the price drop occurred, and what Sony Music’s involvement in restoring the price was.

Houston fans blamed Apple for the iTunes price increase, but The UK media is reporting that Apple were forced to raise the price in response to Sony Music increasing the wholesale price of the album. Price increases aside, Houston’s album was the second top-selling album on iTunes on Monday morning in the UK, while In the US, Houston’s 2000 Greatest Hits collection is currently occupying the number two slot on iTunes album sales chart.

The antics of Sony Music in the UK strike me as being somewhat hypocritical given the tenuous position that they and other recording labels occupy. With Mp3 music easily obtainable for free, most studios have had to resort to trading by adopting the moral high ground. Unfortunately for Sony Music, any goodwill they may have with potential buyers is likely to have evaporated. PAT PILCHER

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.


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