Friday, June 26, 2009



I am posting twice today in order to respond to something I find totally shameless. I just logged onto iTunes and decided to look over Michael Jackson's catalogue. I expected to see the usual $0.99 price tag next to each song. But then I saw that some popular tunes--like Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean and Don't Stop Til You Get Enough--cost $1.29.

I recognized immediately that iTunes was gouging customers in order to exploit their sorrow and love the day after Michael Jackson died. They saw how many people were buying Jackson's tunes, likely encouraged by endless news coverage. So what did iTunes do? They recognized a "business opportunity." They decided to get a few million more dollars by raising the price on customers ready to pay anything. In short, they decided to profit from Michael Jackson's death.

I don't care whether this is "a good business move." It is just base. There are times to exploit outcry and public sentiment for commercial gain, but not right after someone dies. Why can't iTunes just charge the regular rate? I suppose they just couldn't resist cashing in on the once-in-a-lifetime spike in demand for these songs. Once the media coverage subsides and public interest returns to "normal," the price will revert to $0.99. Until then, iTunes is ready to rake in some extra dough on Jackson's death.

Things like this remind me why I detest commerce. I actually have some decency and would never think to make extra money because a person died. But that's why I am not successful in business; I have a conscience. I suppose I need to fix that if I want to start banking up some serious money in my life.

Ethics and decency are for paupers. Shamelessness and crude profiteering are for the successful. I'll take poverty, thank you.

I feel bad about Michael Jackson's death. I think he was a deeply unhappy man who never had a chance to live a relatively "normal" or "peaceful" life. His parents pushed him into the spotlight before he knew who or what he was. After that, his life was no longer his. The public thought he was a "weirdo." And no matter how much evidence the State mustered against him on child molestation charges, I could never escape the impression that he was on trial because people thought he was "too strange" for society. I am certain that this affected him. His whole life was a circus act. He could not really have been happy in these circumstances.

But iTunes doesn't give a shit about that. He died, he's enjoying renewed popularity because he's in the news and people are ready to buy his songs. This is no time to read eulogies. This is no time to reflect and express sympathy. Hell no: It's time to artificially raise prices and make some money, baby--just the way street hawkers raise the price on umbrellas when it starts raining.

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