Whether iTunes users loved or loathed the fact that Apple chose to gift them a free U2 album, one thing is clear: The stunt cost Apple a lot of money. According to several reports, including one from SPIN, the free download set Apple back $100 million. That figure includes a fee paid to the band and a marketing campaign, including television ads that teased Apple’s event on Tuesday.
U2’s Bono said at the Apple event that the rapid distribution of the band’s music was appealing, with one condition.
“[F]irst you would have to pay for it. Because we’re not going in for the free music around here.”
The free download took the form of Songs of Innocence magically appearing in the iTunes libraries of all users, reaching an estimated 500 million customers. Not everyone was happy with the stunt, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
USA Today had a relatively simple explanation why: people like choice. The outlet acknowledged that Apple’s motivations could be to get more users to solidify global dominance. On the more benign end, the stunt could be nothing more than a statement of how digital media allows for free music sharing anyway.
“What’s more important is that Apple, in its quest to get people to remember and use iTunes, and U2, in its quest to get every single person on planet earth to listen to their new album, forgot the one hugely important thing that people treasure in their music. (Or, if you want to be 2014 about it, their ‘consumption of media.’)
“That’s choice. People will always argue about what’s great and not great in music. The new U2 album is fine and most people would be delighted to get it for free. What Apple and U2 forgot, though, is that people love the choice to get something for free. We privileged internet and mobile users are bombarded, all day every day, non-stop, with content. Some of it is free and some of it we pay for, and we have to sort that out for ourselves.”
Debating whether the very act of the universal free download was an affront to the sanctity of rock ‘n roll’s artistic integrity were journalists Tim Ingham and Andrew Mueller, writing in The Guardian on Saturday. Ingham said the action does a disservice to struggling musicians who are dependent on their music sales to pay the rent. Mueller was more pragmatic, saying music was not devalued by U2 or Apple, but by music consumers who long ago proved they would rather opt for free content.
The free iTunes download is available until October 13 and SPIN reports the for-sale version will have new songs and acoustic versions of the Songs of Innocence album tracks. Some of these cuts will be exclusive to everyone except Apple for five weeks.
[U2 Image: Google / The Hollywood Reporter]