U2 Downloads Free Album On Your iTunes

Colin Conner ’15

On September 9, 2014 the little Irish rock band, otherwise known as U2 broke all the rules.  Coinciding with an Apple launch event for the latest iPhone,  U2 released their 13th studio album, “Songs of Innocence,” and it was immediately downloaded onto 500 million iTunes accounts.  The most important element to this daring marketing strategy is that the album is completely free to iTunes customers if they access it by October 13.

U2 made a surprise appearance at the Apple event and performed a new single from the album, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).”  This release is considered the biggest album launch is history since about half a billion iTunes users owned the album on the day of its release.  This uniquely free album celebrates the 10th anniversary of U2’s ipod commercial and further solidifies the relationship between the rock band and the tech giant.  U2 says they plan to collaborate with Apple in the next couple of years to “transform the way music is listened to.”

Not that U2 is really suffering from a financial loss by giving their album away for free for a limited time, it was reported that Apple gave U2 a large blanket royalty fee and accommodated them with a marketing budget with a value as much as $100 million dollars to smooth the way to give the album away to all iTunes users.

However, not everyone was supportive of this innovative marketing strategy.  Sharon Osborne was not receptive to the way the album was delivered to customers: “Shame on you…this is an invasion of my private…entertainment space.”  Entertainment Retailer’s Association described the upload as, “More damaging than piracy.” The chairman, Paul Quirk, went on to say that he believes giving the album away for free basically, “Reduced the music to the level of…spam.”

Responding to some of the complaints Apple launched a tool to remove the album yesterday and U2 made a statement.  Understanding that the free album would not be received well by everyone U2 contributed to a blog post saying, “What a mind blowing, head scratching, 21st century situation.  Over 500 million people…that’s a billion ears.  And for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way…the blood, sweat, and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail.”

So the jury is still out on whether this marketing move was the most brilliant idea in advertising history or just a ploy that falls flat at the end of the day.  Either way consumers can check out the new album until October 13th and if they don’t like it…just delete it.