Whitney Houston iTunes price hike was a 'mistake', Sony says

Label apologises for raising cost of singer's albums following her death, saying it was simply an 'employee error'

Sony Music UK has apologised for raising the price of Whitney Houston albums following the singer's death on Saturday night. A spokesperson for the company called the move an "internal mistake due to an employee error", insisting the elevated prices remained in place for only a few hours.

"Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the UK iTunes store on Sunday," Sony told Billboard, the US music industry newspaper. "When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologise for any offence caused."

As previously reported, iTunes' price for Houston's The Ultimate Collection ballooned from £4.99 to £7.99 early on Sunday morning. According to Billboard, another compilation, Whitney: The Greatest Hits, increased from £7.99 to £9.99. Although some accused Sony of taking advantage of the situation, exploiting fans' grief, industry sources defended the move, claiming that the albums' wholesale costs had previously been listed incorrectly. Still, both LPs reverted to their earlier, lower prices on Sunday night.

On Tuesday, a Sony representative denied the company reconsiders album pricing following an artist's death. Such changes happen only periodically, they said, based on supply and demand. Sony also denied any outlets besides iTunes had been affected by the costing "mistake". However, according to Billboard, a HMV representative "seemed to imply, but would not confirm" that the retailer had also been instructed to raise the cost of Houston's albums.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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