October 15, 2014

U2’s Songs of Innocence will be free forever, somewhere

Sure, the Apple and U2 promotion of the latter’s album Songs of Innocence could’ve been executed a lot better. The biggest problem were for people with the setting to download new purchases automatically, because the album essentially was a new purchase, albeit free and unintended, and thus it’d dowbload to your device(s). It would’ve been much better to just promote the hell out of a link to the album’s page on iTunes, and just set the price to free. Not as disruptive obviously, but without the backlash and its removal tool.

Still, I think the whole thing got a bit carried away. You got a somewhat decent rock album from one of the biggest bands in the world for free. Not everyone’ll like the music, but it’s not like it cost you anything. Except space if you have automatic downloads enabled (which I don’t, I use iTunes Match and stream instead), and you can always just remove the album from your device(s). It’s a fuckup, but not a big one, and not even remotely serious. There are more important things to worry about.

U2 did a video Q&A on Facebook, and adressed the whole free Songs of Innocence thing. The following quote is from 9to5Mac, but you could just as well watch the video yourself.

Two and a half minutes in, a user named Harriet Madeline Jobson asked, “Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples [sic] playlists ever again? It’s really rude.”

Bono took the question, opening his response with “oops, sorry about that.” He went on to call the plan “a beautiful idea” but noted that the band had probably “gotten away with ourselves.” The singer added that because there is so much “noise” in the music industry, the band “got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”

The promotion has ended now, so if you’d sign up for an iTunes account you’d have to pay for Songs of Innocence, should you want to download it from iTunes. But fear not, this is obviously such a big deal so Amazon steps in and gives the same album away to its Prime users. It makes me wonder if Songs of Innocence will go down as the most gifted album in history, but at the same time as the one nobody bought?

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.