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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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Anonymous Coward

Greedy barstewards

Another black mark against a media company

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Vic
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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?

</obvious>

Vic.

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Pirate

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

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Devil

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.

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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?

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Unhappy

Re: Re: Greedy barstewards

Odd that Amazons algorithms missed it!

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@Falcon

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.

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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.

(£10-£4)*5=£30

(£5-£4)*20=£20

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Vic
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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.

Vic.

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Facepalm

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.............................

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Devil

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.

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WTF?

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..

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"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?

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Facepalm

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.

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All Christians now, then

The pursuit of profit is sinful. Gotcha.

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FAIL

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!!

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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.

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FAIL

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.

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FAIL

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Re: Hint: NOBODY CARES ABOUT WHITNEY

Shush now, you'll upset the kiddies.

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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.

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Mushroom

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.

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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.

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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.

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@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?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA... HAHAHAHAHAAAAA>>....

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

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@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?

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Joke

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.

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Anonymous Coward

@Aaron

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

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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.

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Devil

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.

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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 !

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FAIL

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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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Anonymous Coward

$on¥

Money grabbing ¢*nts.

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Re: $on¥

I $ee what you did there.

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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 ;)

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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.

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