U2‘s 13th studio album ‘Songs of Innocence‘ was automatically uploaded into more than 500 million iTunes accounts on September tenth to coincide with the launch of Apples iPhone six.
The surprise release received mix reviews, mostly negative of the largest album release of all time. Users felt uncomfortable that music they had not endorsed was being pushed into their music library without their knowledge. The backlash resulted in Apple having to embarrassingly release an app which enabled users to delete the album. Once the album has been removed from your account it will no longer be able to be re-downloaded as a previous purchase.
The marketing stunt and giveaway was expected to boost record sales of the Irish bands back catalogue but they only managed to sell 60 CDs in store of their older albums and 6,047 online downloads in Britain. The shockingly small amount of CDs sold could be down to there being no warning to retailers of the surprise release resulting in stores not being able to prepare their stock.
Apple reportedly paid U2 $100 million dollar figure for their use of ‘Songs of Innocence‘. Out of the 500 million accounts that the album got added to, 33 million people have listed to it from their iCloud account, streamed it or used iTunes radio player to listen to it.
Musically it is not a terrible album but as a result of bad marketing people complain that they had reduced the ‘Song s of Innocence‘ album to the level of spam and devaluated music. There is still the argument that it was the fans that devalued music once they decided to not pay and opting to illegally download instead. Lesser known bands are concerned that if successful rock giants such as U2 give away their music for free how can new comers to the music industry expect consumers to spend £10 on their albums.
There is no question that the U2 and Apple collaboration successfully managed to generate a lot of media attention. It may be the biggest free CD giveaway of all time but it is also most likely the most deleted of all time.
The album is available for free up until October 13th 2014 as that is the day of the albums general public and in store release. The U2 CD will come with a 24 page booklet, a deluxe gatefold double album containing an acoustic session and additional tracks. It is also available as double white vinyl EP with an exclusive remix. Proving that U2 understand they need offer that little extra for their fans willing to buy ‘Songs of Innocence‘ after its free release.