An idiosyncratic list, but mine own.
Sony's execrable handling of its 2000 boxed-set cd reissue of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. The sound -- dismal, dull, lifeless. The packaging -- a disgrace, with the cds in flimsy cardboard holders that leave glue on the playing surfaces. A small collage of just three Amazon.com reviews:
The reprocessing on this compilation is among the worst in years: thin, harsh, and (on the first two CDs) with nearly overwhelming surface noise. . . . Incidentally, all four CDs had glue on the playing surfaces . . . . the glue adheres to the CD edges, even making their way onto the surface . . . . This collection is an inconsistent sonic mess.You can read more at Amazon. And if you care about this music, buy the JSP set of the same material, less than half the price and infinitely better sound. That Sony would treat Armstrong's music -- a national treasure; no, a world treasure -- as it did already says everything about its understanding of art and commerce.
The rootkit scandal. Need I say more? Boing Boing provides a detailed history, starting here.
The witty, throwaway line in Nellie McKay's song "Clonie" -- "Should've signed with Verve instead of Sony" -- now seems sadly prophetic. Sony-Columbia has dropped McKay and refused to release her album Pretty Little Head (which was supposed to be out yesterday). A New York Times article has the details. McKay, to my ears, is one of the brightest, smartest people in music right now. You can read about her in Orange Crate Art, here and here, and you can read much more at this fan site.
What does this idiosyncratic list add up to? A company with contempt for past performers, present performers, and customers. Sony, you're out.