U2 and Apple Face Backlash After Force-Feeding New Album to iTunes Users

BY Alex HudsonPublished Sep 11, 2014

This week, U2 gave away their new album Songs of Innocence for free on iTunes. Good news, right? Not for everyone. On social media, there has been a massive backlash against the rollout, with many people complaining about being forced to download a difficult-to-delete album against their wishes.

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. 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. 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.

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.

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