It's easy to get so emotional about a singer after they've passed prematurely, as Whitney Houston did Saturday at the age of 48. But fans seeking to buy her albums in remembrance weren't too happy at sudden price hikes so soon after her death.
The Brits picked up on it quickly, with London-based Next Web writer Matt Brian and The Guardian's Josh Halliday both finding the price increases, which raised Houston's "The Ultimate Collection" 2007 album from £5 (about $7.89) to £8 (about $12.63). In the United States, the cost is even steeper: $15 for the "Greatest Hits" collection at both Amazon and iTunes.
Halliday found out that Sony Music increased the price of "The Ultimate Collection" at about 4 a.m. Sunday, not even 12 hours after news broke of Houston's death. Fans were quick to point fingers at Apple for the anti-sale, but it turned out that when Sony bumped up the wholesale price of "The Ultimate Collection," iTunes and other retailers automatically upped their pricing.
We've reached out to Sony for comment and will update if/when we hear from them.
Digital Spy found consumers who said the price change happened even more quickly: 30 minutes for it to jump from $4.74 to $12.62, which prompted one buyer to fume, "The album itself is great so please don't be put off purchasing it, just [realize] that you will merely be lining some fatcat's pocket before Whitney's lifeless body is cold."
Houston's "iTunes Essentials" album is even more expensive at $18.45 for 15 songs (vs. 36 songs for $14.99 on the "Greatest Hits" album, which was originally released in 2000).
Over at Google Music, you can't find those albums, but there are a smattering of free singles, including "Greatest Love of All" and "So Emotional."
Meanwhile, at Walmart, things are just plain fishy. Though the retail giant has exited the music download business, it is still a massive CD retailer. While the pricing of Whitney's CDs hasn't changed, every single one is listed as 'out of stock online.' Could that really be because of a surge in buying? Or is there a price change afoot?
As of this morning, three of Houston's singles were in the top 10 singles chart at iTunes, including the No. 1 "I Will Always Love You," which was also sung in tribute by Jennifer Hudson at last night's Grammy awards. Houston's "Greatest Hits" album was No. 2 on the iTunes albums chart, runner-up to only Adele, who swept the Grammy awards with hits from her "21" album.
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