Ah, progress

Many people are in shock and mourning after the unexpected death of singer Whitney Houston. As reported by the International Business Times, however, others are crying all the way to the bank.

Sony Music raised the price of Houston’s songs just 30 minutes after her death, reports The Guardian. The retail price was raised from about $8 (£4.99) to about $13 (£7.99), which automatically raised the price of digital sales on platforms such as iTunes.

I have just one thing to say about that.


  1. davidct says

    I did not know that the Japanese were so Christian like. Now that she is dead maybe the Mormons can convert her as Mitt did with his atheist father in law.

  2. John Morales says

    That picture may not be worth a thousand words, but it has at least a thousand times the impact any words could have.


  3. unbound says

    Yep. The true face of the large corporations. The only change here is that increasingly the corporations aren’t even trying to hide their true selves anymore…

  4. Thorne says

    What’s to hide? Corporations are in business to make money. Experience shows that, following the death of a celebrity, sales of their music/movies/whatever tend to rise. No one is FORCING anyone to buy her music. If no one buys it, after a few weeks prices will drop again. But if you’re one of those people who just HAVE TO HAVE the latest fad, and can’t wait for the prices to drop, then you deserve what you get.

    Like those vultures in the photo, the corporations are only doing what they’re supposed to do. You don’t have to like it. And you don’t have to feed them, either.

    • jerthebarbarian says

      You’re speaking as if corporations were some kind of natural thing – some kind of entity in the world that evolved via natural selection like the vultures above.

      They are not. They are entities created by humans to perform a specific task. When corporations act in a manner that is unethical and/or immoral it is our duty as human beings to point out that these human-constructed entities are acting immorally or unethically. If we do not, we are falling down on our jobs as humans.

      This is a HUGE problem with the US today. People have come to believe that corporations are a natural thing in and of themselves and that they act the way they do because it’s natural for corporations to act that way. That’s not true – in the past, corporations thought about more than just the bottom line because there were a lot of legal and societal pressures since to the turn of the 20th century on corps to MAKE them think about more than just the bottom line. The legal pressures mostly came off in the 1970s and the societal pressures mostly came off in the 1980s and corporate behavior has been spiraling back down to where it was in the 1890s ever since.

      • Thorne says

        While I understand that corporations can do bad things, I don’t consider making a profit to be one of them. That IS what they’re supposed to do. I also don’t consider it unethical for them to raise the prices of items which they know are going to be in demand. No one is forced to buy those items, but if you want them you have to pay for them. Or wait until the demand drops.

        Have you ever watched the “Antiques Roadshow”? How many times do you see someone who bought some piece of junk at a garage sale, only to find out that it’s a fabulous antique, worth thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars? Would you consider those people to be unethical or immoral if they turned around and sold those items for such a large profit? If not, then why would you consider a corporation to be so for doing the exact same thing?

      • jerthebarbarian says

        You really don’t see the difference between finding some junk at a garage sale and profiting off the death of another human being?


        If not, then we’re at odds. Because I see a HUGE gulf between the two. Such that the two positions aren’t even comparable. On the one hand you’ve got some junk that you found at a garage sale that turns out to be worth more than you expect. On the other you’re profiting from the publicity surrounding a death. One of these things is very obviously and objectively morally neutral, the other has traditionally been considered somewhere on the spectrum between distasteful and outright immoral.

        I mean if you want to live in a world where not just profiting off of other people’s misery but using it as an opportunity to pig out for even more profit doesn’t even raise an eyebrow by all means promote that worldview. I’ll continue to call out the immorality of sucking at the corpses of the recently dead like a vampire what it is. And that’s what corporations who pull things like this are doing – sucking at the corpses of the recently deceased.

      • Thorne says

        In the first place, vampires suck at the still living, not the recently deceased. She, and the corporations, made a lot of money from her talents while she was alive. Why should things be any different when she’s dead.

        Do you howl at those who pay millions of dollars for some paint splashed on canvas just because the artist has died? Why should that be okay? Because it’s individuals instead of corporations? A bit of a double standard, there.

        No, these “vampires” are sucking at the pocketbooks of people too stupid, or too vain, to realize that’s what’s happening. No one is forcing them to buy these things at inflated prices. It’s not something that is required for life, such as food or water. If you don’t like the prices, don’t buy the goods, it’s that simple. When the money dries up, the “vampires” will back away.

      • Brian M says

        Agree with Thorne in this case. Who’s the victim here? If the death of Whitney inspires you with a sudden NEED to own what is basically commercial pablum (admittedly sung very well and emotively) then who is responsible for that?

    • grumpyoldfart says

      From the article at the link (above):

      Sony executives who chose to remain anonymous told the Times that the price hike was due to an error by a British Sony employee, and was not authorized by the company.

      Some unknown employee in another country just waltzes into the office and changes Sony pricing policy worldwide? I don’t believe it. If Sony was run in such a haphazard fashion it would have gone out of business years ago.

  5. Kevin says

    I’m with Thorne. What’s the problem with that? Other than the bad PR consequences — which would have been a lot less if Sony had stuck to its guns. Everyone knows there’s a tier structure for downloaded songs. You pay more for currently popular artists, and less for has-beens (a category that definitely includes Houston).

    When the last Beatle dies, or the last Rolling Stone, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be a run on their recordings. And if people are willing to pay more for their work at that time — well, that’s a market force at work. Nothing evil about it at all. In 6 months (or less), the price will normalize.

    If I were a Sony stockholder, I’d be pissed at the back-pedaling. Sony isn’t doing too well as a corporation right now — it lost $3.1 BILLION last fiscal year and its S&P rating was downgraded just this month.

    Corporations are beholden to their stockholders. Windfall profits are profits nonetheless. And it’s not like we’re talking about price gouging in the oil industry, or price fixing by milk producers. It’s downloaded bytes of a formerly popular singer.

    • mikespeir says

      I agree to a considerable extent. Why are we so bent on forgetting that not everybody who works for, say, Sony or makes their living off of Sony is some silk-robed plutocrat who has to fight his way through piles of cash to get to the door of his teak-paneled office? There are many times that many “little people” out there who might not mind a small raise or a bit of a Christmas bonus come December. I’m not blind to the cravenness of the plutocrat, mind you. I just think we should focus on the actual problem.

  6. Cliff Hendroval says

    Quite frankly, I think anyone tasteless enough to buy anything by Whitney Houston deserves to be taken to the cleaners.

  7. timberwoof says

    Can corporations sue their contractors for not dying on time and thus failing to increase the value of the intellectual property the contractors created?

  8. scenario says

    There’s a big difference between raising the price of a cd when a celebrity dies and raising the price of food after a hurricane. You’ve got a lot of places to shop for a cd that you don’t have to have. Corporations that don’t make money go out of business and I can think of a lot worse things that corporations do.

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