Why Whitney Album Price Rises Aren't A Big Deal

In the wake of Whitney Houston's death, some digital music stores hiked up the prices on compilations of the late singer's work. While that might seem like shameless opportunism, it's worth remembering that digital music is still much cheaper than previous formats.

The Guardian reports that the price of Houston's albums in the UK iTunes store rose from £4.99 to £7.99 soon after news of the singer's unexpected death emerged. The death of a major star invariably leads to people buying their work in online stores — the same phenomenon was very evident with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse — so it's hard to see this as anything other than opportunistic. (The lower price was subsequently restored, but by then the online furore had begun)

Similar changes haven't been seen in the Australian iTunes store. There are two main compilations available — The Ultimate Collection and The Greatest Hits — and both cost $16.99. The latter is a better deal, as it's a two-disc compilation and includes a number of songs missing from the former. The purist in me would point out that it's actually the US edition, not the international release Australia got originally in 2000, but I doubt casual buyers will care.

What's really worth pointing out is that when you're paying $16.99 to get 36 tracks, you're really in no position to complain about getting ripped off. Even if it cost $20.99, you'd be getting a good deal.

I bought that album on CD when it first came out, and I would have paid almost double that. More recently, I purchased the DVD version for a rather less wallet-straining $7.99. As ever, I find arguments that music is too expensive these days to be self-serving and not very well-informed.

Whitney Houston album price hike sparks controversy [The Guardian]


    I am blown away at how blatantly you are missing the point... even when you state the point in your article. It doesn't matter if it's a good deal or not, the point is that it is opportunistic! They are profiting from death, that's all there is to it. A better approach would have been to say that though the prices have been jacked up now... if people wait they are sure to return to their prior price in due time. But don't try and pass off profiteering as "still a good deal".

      "While that might seem like shameless opportunism, it’s worth remembering that digital music is still much cheaper than previous formats." Just like it's not worth complaining about the price of electricity because we used to rely on candles.
      It's okay to get ripped off, as long as it's the most recent technology.

    I am also blown away.

    It doesn't matter how cheap they are. The prices ROSE after her death. End of discussion.

    *shrug* those of us who were actually genuine fans had already bought her albums and best-of compliations. This is not profiting from death. This is profiting from consumerist culture where one assuages one's bad feelings (in this case, grief) by spending money on related goods/services (in this case, music).

    I guess now that we all agree to give middle finger to those hike the price...

    ... can somebody share to us which place/music store that does not take this shameless, god-forsaken, ban-for-life act of profit taking?

      TPB ;)

    OK, i have another point re what a "good deal" i'm getting: you pay less now, because you GET less.

    CDs were a physical media, that could be played anywhere, had a case, booklet, etc etc... and were of course able to be resold.

    1s and 0s have no distribution cost, and shouldn't cost anywhere near what was paid for a physical media!!!!

      You can get FLAC (rather than some poxy lossy format) at very reasonable prices - some artists are happy to use a "pay what you like" model!

        this one time? at bandcamp.com? I... oh, never mind.

    Essentially this is just the market forces at work (more demand means people are willing to pay more) BUT it's a bit unethical when the reason for increased demand is someone's death, isn't it?
    I'm sick of the excuse 'it's just business' being used to side-step ethical behaviour completely. Just because it's business doesn't mean you can stop being a decent human being.

    I dont see any real issue here, the same thing happend when Micheal Jackson died.

    A ten year old album costs less now than when it was first released? Clearly that is a sign that music has never been cheaper, not the price curve followed by every pop music album released ever!

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