Many have likened the album to spam, pointing out that it arrived on their computer or phone without their knowledge. This has meant that the album, which was presented as a "gift," has come across as a rather invasive marketing scheme.
The new U2 album is a bit like Chlamydia - you wouldn't know you had it unless you properly checked.— Andy Bush (@bushontheradio) September 11, 2014
how on earth did anyone think putting an undeletable U2 album on everyone's itunes was a good idea— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) September 11, 2014
Some musicians and labels have been involved in the outcry, with A.C. Newman (of the New Pornographers) and Frog Eyes joining the chorus of tweets against U2.
I'm going to burn that U2 album to a compact disc just so I can smash it to a million pieces and send it back to Apple— Tom Bryan (@tombryan) September 11, 2014
All because, of the billions of listeners that did not ask for nor want U2's Songs of Innocence, only 17 of us did not immediately delete it— Frog Eyes (@frogeyesmusic) September 11, 2014
I was amused by the fact that the U2 album is in all of your Itunes, but now I see it's in MY Itunes. Not funny.— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) September 11, 2014
Next time, U2 should release their LP as a pop-up ad that is impossible to turn off. Basically, they should have released a stronger virus.— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) September 11, 2014
Anybody else get a small shock when they tried to delete the new U2?— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) September 11, 2014
so stoked on my free Apple provided U2 album with a song about Joey Ramone bc I love #punkrock— Tough Age (@toughage) September 11, 2014
this u2/itunes nonsense is reminding me how much i love physical media!— Kill Rock Stars (@killrockstars) September 11, 2014
So I know Apple was going be giving out the new U2 album for free. But does that mean it just pops up in your itunes? I didn't ask for this— Just Blaze (@JustBlaze) September 10, 2014
U2 and Apple were clearly aiming for the album to go viral, and much like a real virus, it's proving to be rather difficult to get rid of. Gigaom and the BBC (among others) have even published guides for how to get rid of the album, and this includes un-syncing the album on your phone, deleting the tracks one by one or turning off auto-downloads.
Dear Apple. I already have all the U2 albums I want. Joshua Tree on vinyl and that's it.— Hidden Pony Records (@HiddenPony) September 10, 2014
This isn't the first album to be given away as a corporate stunt, but it's the first to use force-feeding as a distribution method; Jay Z gave away an album with Samsung last year, but that gave users an option of whether to download it or not.
Some have argued that giving an album away devalues the music itself. Still, just because the album is free for users doesn't mean that U2 haven't been paid. "This is a gift from Apple to their customers," the Irish arena gods' manager Guy Oseary told the New York Times. "They bought it and they are giving it away."
So just how much did Apple pay U2 and their label, Universal? According to the New York Times, sources report that it's as much a $100 million. That's a whole lot of black toques and tinted sunglasses.
Amid all this fuss, an alternate option would be to enjoy the free album, and there are doubtless many fans who are doing just that. After all, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Then again, if that gift horse moves onto your property and starts taking up space, it's probably reasonable to be a little ticked off.