Discovering new music… that you didn’t want.

Imagine waking up and going to your CD/vinyl collection and finding an album that you have never bought or wanted amongst them, with no idea how it got there. How creepy would that be? That’s the reality iTunes users have woken up to. Apple has given U2’s new album to all of their iTunes users, for free… whether they want it or not.

I find this to be a really strange decision by both Apple and U2.

First of all let’s look at what Apple has done. They have given away something for free, as most companies do from time to time. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a good marketing ploy… UNLESS of course you dictate that everyone will have the freebie. If you buy something over the counter and they include a freebie, you can either take it or politely refuse it. At least you have that option. What Apple have done is given you the freebie, without an option and without you buying anything. From what I see on the Twitter feeds is that there are a lot of angry and confused people and to be honest, I don’t blame them.

Why didn’t they just have it as an option to download it or not?

This may not have been the best time for Apple to do this considering the recent iCloud hacking. There were plenty of people who were (with valid reasons) worried about the safety of it. Imagine being one of those people and then all of a sudden you hear music you didn’t pay for or download. Alarm bells would be going off.

So what are the benefits for Apple by doing this? I guess by having a well-known band release an album alongside their own products shows consumers what a big player they are and how important their products and services are.

Other than publicity stunt, I don’t really get it.

Now for U2… do they really value their music at $0? That’s the message they are sending. In business you set a price at what you believe your product is worth. If you set it at zero, then that is what it is worth. Of course you can give away a copy here and there for promotion purposes and what-not, but to give millions of copies away for free is something else.

Did they really think this was a way to win new fans? I’m sure the U2 fans are happy; if not a tad embarrassed! Most people seem to just be asking how they can delete it. All U2 have done is angered people. Perhaps the album should have been called Songs of Annoyance?

Here is a news flash for U2… not everyone is a fan of yours. Not everyone wants a U2 album or song. I feel the need to point this out as you have decided everyone must be or soon will be.

Of course U2 aren’t that stupid and they will have been paid a handsome sum by Apple for all of the albums they’ve given away. Which answers my previous question of why it wasn’t just there as an option.

Billboard is refusing to recognise this as a release until they release the album for purchase in both physical and digital forms. Why any iTunes users (other than hard-core U2 fans) would run out and pay for the physical album is beyond me.

So what’s in it for U2 other than financial gains and free publicity? (Insert chirping cricket noises here)

So much for artistic integrity.

This whole debacle brings me to think about the state of the music industry.

I recently read a good article about how iTunes and streaming sites are destroying musicians and how it has become like digital communism and I believe this stunt is the perfect example of it. You will all have this album and you will all listen to it.

Is this what we can expect in the future of music that some albums will be mandatory? Probably not considering they still can’t make people listen to it.

The article goes on to discuss how iTunes values all songs at a set price. Whether it is a masterpiece or the new single by whoever the latest band is that makes you want to cut your ears off, it doesn’t matter; the price is the same. Which really explains why so many people are upset with the state of music these days.

If a label can produce and mass market someone with questionable talent and music that sounds the same as everything else  at the moment and get the same revenues as a big name band who will demand greater things, guess who the label will choose? It means more money for them. That’s how big businesses think.

It has made me laugh and happy to know that there are all these people complaining about getting an album for free, when all we hear about is how this generation expects everything for free. Then of course my brain switches to the negative and worries that this is setting a precedent for consumers who will expect every album for free. I’m not so worried if they expect every U2 album for free, as U2 have done that to themselves.

What good has this done for the music industry? I think I need that cricket noise again!

So in summation I believe this was a terrible idea from both Apple and U2. I don’t believe it will hurt Apple all that much as people will continue to use iTunes but it has hurt U2. It hasn’t hurt U2 financially as I am sure they were paid very well by Apple but it has hurt their reputation and may hurt them financially in the future.

Of course it’s not all bad, both are getting free publicity. I myself would never usually write about either one but here I am doing exactly that. Whilst my blog has been mainly negative (and I really did try to find the positives) it is still free advertising and publicity for them and there is no such thing as bad publicity. So well done guys… I fell for it.


I don’t use iTunes and don’t see myself using it in the foreseeable future; I just thought this was an interesting situation.