By: Sal Sbrega
“We are just trying to get our music to as many people as possible” said Bono, lead singer of the hit rock band U2, in a Time Magazine interview. He was speaking of the deal the band made to release their new album “Songs of Innocence” for a free download on iTunes.
What Bono fails to mention is the $100 million payout they received as compensation from Apple, and the backlash that iTunes is receiving. Was this a bad idea on Apple’s part?
If you care about this music lover’s opinion: absolutely. For starters, not everyone likes U2 and maybe they do not want their music on their phone. If there is anything, iTunes should be aware of is how seriously people take their music libraries. Furthermore, there is also the fact that your album is downloaded without your consent and without a warning.
Could that not be viewed as an invasion of privacy? A Selena Gomez mega-fan living in Toronto seemed to think it was such an invasion of privacy that she contacted the Toronto Police. Of course, it did not escalate any further once they explained that it was not a police matter.
Aside from that, many people who were given the unwanted U2 album did not know how to remove it from their music libraries. Apple responded by creating a support website and an app that will help the user remove it. It would seem that Apple got the short end of the stick, what with having to respond to the immense backlash from the public, and having paid around $100 million in exchange.
After learning all of the details around Apple’s misfortune, I’m wondering why they chose to do it in the first place. Why did U2’s album deserve more support from Apple than any other album in its music store?
I don’t think it was an act of ignorance, as I am sure Apple took polls to figure out if U2 still held some popularity. I think it was an act of arrogance. I imagine that Apple executives were thinking something along these lines: “who doesn’t like free music?” or maybe even “yes! U2 is a great band and are definitely still as popular as they once were,” and of course, “anyone who uses iTunes will be so grateful!”
Clearly, they were wrong. On the other end, it is clear to me why U2 wanted the deal. It was a wise financial decision and they’ve made way more in this deal than they would had they released it conventionally.
Sharon Osbourne seemed particularly angry with the band and wasn’t afraid to say so on Twitter.
“U2, you are business moguls not musicians anymore,” she said. “No wonder you have to give your mediocre music away for free ‘cause no one wants to buy it.” A little harsh? Maybe.
I think she’s right. Thanks to this deal, they’ve gone from musicians to businessmen who profited from their established reputation.
But this isn’t about U2’s arrogance, which was obvious to anyone who heard of the deal. It was Apple’s lack of foresight and evidently bad decision that is the most baffling. Now, they have to pay the price for their mistake. Although, I doubt Apple has anything to worry about with their new iPhone 6 coming out.