remove

Execution is everything.

Musical tastes are personal. And it seems that force-feeding people a new album from U2, unsolicited, doesn’t go over well. Apple giving away U2’s new Songs of Innocence is in itself not a bad thing. But there are two problems. One, the album is poorly reviewed – think Paul McCartney “Wonderful Christmastime” rather than Abbey Road. Two, because the album simply appeared in purchased music – and because iTunes (cleverly enough) displays what you’ve purchased from iCloud – it showed up in people’s collections when it didn’t belong.

So, we’ve learned something. This doesn’t work. And as always, you can’t really buy marketing. That is, sure, Aphex Twin rented a blimp, but in the end, they had more successful viral marketing because they let their fans choose to spread their new release. U2 tried to force that promotion, and even though Apple and U2 are loved by many people, the combination comes across as corporate and inauthentic.

Peter Cohen shouts at the Internet over this, but I think that’s because he’s in the unfortunate position of reading lots of tech blogs.

This isn’t a “self-indulgent, first world problem.” It’s a textbook case study in the difference in power between word-of-mouth and a poorly executed promotion.

I know lots in the music production community who were offended by the U2 move, too. And there’s a reason for that. Apple may be a big corporation, but they aren’t Coca-Cola. They’re Bic pens, or a Nikon camera, or a Gibson guitar – we use the product to make things. And they’re an RCA turntable or a pair of Sennheiser headphones, Technicolor film or a book printed by Penguin. We use the product to take in stuff we love, too. Apple’s marketing has lately been really cleverly sensitive to this (and has featured a lot of great music making apps, too). So the U2 record proved, like the release, to be a bit deaf.

There will be subtler cases of this. If YouTube or Spotify or SoundCloud tries to tell you what to like, if Facebook ultimately buries your friends under ads, it’s a problem, not because advertising can’t work, but because it can obscure the reasons to use those services. Heck, I even have to protect my own personal authenticity and CDM’s. So, yes, sometimes the reaction on the Internet overdoes the tone a bit. But filter out that tone and you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t.

And every PR person in music, every record label looking to promote a new release ought to pay attention to what has happened here. I will meanwhile enjoy scoring this Aphex Twin 1, U2 0.

And if that doesn’t say it all, this does:

https://itunes.com/soi-remove

Songs of Experience.

More related to this story:

Writing for Time, Pat Regnier notes that part of the problem here is confusion about how cloud functionality works in iTunes. “Hate” is a strong word, I think, but people are certainly puzzled.

People Don’t Hate U2 Nearly as Much as They Hate iTunes

TechCrunch notes the rising importance of exclusives and the like, though I think this case demonstrates that backlash is a real risk:
The Music Industry Is About To Change, And Apple And U2 Are Just The Beginning

Berlin-based DJ and music pundit BarbNerdy notes that article. And speaking of backlash, she also notices that we’re starting to see promoted tracks in SoundCloud. That seems to be a bigger potential problem for the Web service than the (opt-in only, someday subscription opt-out) advertisements.

Behold:

promoted

via @Barbnerdy on Twitter

And I think this is why people are spooked. Do they really care about one U2 album? No. But this represents the world of music you don’t want, which to me is worse than advertisements. It’s payola all over again, more explicit than ever.

  • Guy Sigsworth

    Good post. You identify the problem correctly, rather than just put the boot into Bono.

    A few years back, Apple were offered the chance to buy Universal Records. Jobs said no. Apple had proven adept at making the process of music listening and discovery more convenient; but it shouldn’t be in the business of signing artists, A&Ring them, telling them their songs suck, choosing producers etc. That’s a very different business.

    Even longer ago, Sony did what Apple didn’t. They bought Columbia (records and movies). At the time CBS records was refusing to allow its artists to release music on DAT tape, which Sony was trying to market as a digital upgrade of the cassette. Sony execs also felt Betamax video had failed largely because they didn’t own a back catalogue of popular movies.

    In the first few years after the takeover, Sony’s movie arm performed very badly. It’s the same lesson. Producing movies which people will love has almost nothing to do with making the right domestic media products for people to watch the movies on.

    Rupert Neve is a genius. But there’s no reason to assume a Rupert Neve album would be an interesting listen.

  • Guy Sigsworth

    Good post. You identify the problem correctly, rather than just put the boot into Bono.

    A few years back, Apple were offered the chance to buy Universal Records. Jobs said no. Apple had proven adept at making the process of music listening and discovery more convenient; but it shouldn’t be in the business of signing artists, A&Ring them, telling them their songs suck, choosing producers etc. That’s a very different business.

    Even longer ago, Sony did what Apple didn’t. They bought Columbia (records and movies). At the time CBS records was refusing to allow its artists to release music on DAT tape, which Sony was trying to market as a digital upgrade of the cassette. Sony execs also felt Betamax video had failed largely because they didn’t own a back catalogue of popular movies.

    In the first few years after the takeover, Sony’s movie arm performed very badly. It’s the same lesson. Producing movies which people will love has almost nothing to do with making the right domestic media products for people to watch the movies on.

    Rupert Neve is a genius. But there’s no reason to assume a Rupert Neve album would be an interesting listen.

  • Guy Sigsworth

    Good post. You identify the problem correctly, rather than just put the boot into Bono.

    A few years back, Apple were offered the chance to buy Universal Records. Jobs said no. Apple had proven adept at making the process of music listening and discovery more convenient; but it shouldn’t be in the business of signing artists, A&Ring them, telling them their songs suck, choosing producers etc. That’s a very different business.

    Even longer ago, Sony did what Apple didn’t. They bought Columbia (records and movies). At the time CBS records was refusing to allow its artists to release music on DAT tape, which Sony was trying to market as a digital upgrade of the cassette. Sony execs also felt Betamax video had failed largely because they didn’t own a back catalogue of popular movies.

    In the first few years after the takeover, Sony’s movie arm performed very badly. It’s the same lesson. Producing movies which people will love has almost nothing to do with making the right domestic media products for people to watch the movies on.

    Rupert Neve is a genius. But there’s no reason to assume a Rupert Neve album would be an interesting listen.

  • Robert Chambers

    Correction, no one likes U2.

    • Daniel Davis

      I love em. My favorite album of all time is Unforgettable Fire, and there isn’t another a band in the world who has made albums better than that, The Joshua Tree, Boy, October and Achtung Baby.

      Also, the new album, while not great, is better than most all other alt-rock being released today.

      • gunboat_d

        i agree with you that U2 hasn’t done anything significant or musically groundbreaking since 1991. “Stuck in a Moment” is not “One”

        • Daniel Davis

          You said no one likes U2.

          That’s false. 🙂 It’s OK to like a band whose best times are in the past.

          • Robert Chambers

            No, I said no one likes U2, and I stand by that.

          • mercury

            Except that they now have 26 albums in the top 200 sales. So, you clearly don’t either understand words or math. Perhaps emoticons would make it clearer for you.

            Also, Peter, I’m not sure this proved a fail. I haven’t done an analysis on how much revenue it brought in for U2 when you include the initial payment from Apple and the uptick in sales but they made a pretty hefty amount of money. It may prove a failed album (compared to their older ones) but as far as marketing, I think many bands would gladly switch positions.

          • Robert Chambers

            I guess I could try that. How about

          • mercury

            It’s entirely possible you are a troll.

          • Robert Chambers

            I’m not a troll. I’m a ghost!

  • Robert Chambers

    Correction, no one likes U2.

    • Daniel Davis

      I love em. My favorite album of all time is Unforgettable Fire, and there isn’t another a band in the world who has made albums better than that, The Joshua Tree, Boy, October and Achtung Baby.

      Also, the new album, while not great, is better than most all other alt-rock being released today.

      • gunboat_d

        i agree with you that U2 hasn’t done anything significant or musically groundbreaking since 1991. “Stuck in a Moment” is not “One”

        • Daniel Davis

          You said no one likes U2.

          That’s false. 🙂 It’s OK to like a band whose best times are in the past.

          • Robert Chambers

            No, I said no one likes U2, and I stand by that.

          • mercury

            Except that they now have 26 albums in the top 200 sales. So, you clearly don’t either understand words or math. Perhaps emoticons would make it clearer for you.

            Also, Peter, I’m not sure this proved a fail. I haven’t done an analysis on how much revenue it brought in for U2 when you include the initial payment from Apple and the uptick in sales but they made a pretty hefty amount of money. It may prove a failed album (compared to their older ones) but as far as marketing, I think many bands would gladly switch positions.

          • Robert Chambers

            I guess I could try that. How about ??? It’s also entirely possible I wasn’t completely serious about literally thinking no one actually likes U2. Who knows though? There’s also a little beefeater! ? thanks for the advice, they did help!

          • mercury

            It’s entirely possible you are a troll.

          • Robert Chambers

            I’m not a troll. I’m a ghost! ? BOO! (I literally just figured out the emoji keyboard on my iPad like three days ago). Now I’m a speedboat ? VROOM VROOM!!

  • Robert Chambers

    Correction, no one likes U2.

    • Daniel Davis

      I love em. My favorite album of all time is Unforgettable Fire, and there isn’t another a band in the world who has made albums better than that, The Joshua Tree, Boy, October and Achtung Baby.

      Also, the new album, while not great, is better than most all other alt-rock being released today.

      • gunboat_d

        i agree with you that U2 hasn’t done anything significant or musically groundbreaking since 1991. “Stuck in a Moment” is not “One”

        • Daniel Davis

          You said no one likes U2.

          That’s false. 🙂 It’s OK to like a band whose best times are in the past.

          • Robert Chambers

            No, I said no one likes U2, and I stand by that.

          • mercury

            Except that they now have 26 albums in the top 200 sales. So, you clearly don’t either understand words or math. Perhaps emoticons would make it clearer for you.

            Also, Peter, I’m not sure this proved a fail. I haven’t done an analysis on how much revenue it brought in for U2 when you include the initial payment from Apple and the uptick in sales but they made a pretty hefty amount of money. It may prove a failed album (compared to their older ones) but as far as marketing, I think many bands would gladly switch positions.

          • Robert Chambers

            I guess I could try that. How about 😑🔫? It’s also entirely possible I wasn’t completely serious about literally thinking no one actually likes U2. Who knows though? There’s also a little beefeater! 💂 thanks for the advice, they did help!

          • mercury

            It’s entirely possible you are a troll.

          • Robert Chambers

            I’m not a troll. I’m a ghost! 👻 BOO! (I literally just figured out the emoji keyboard on my iPad like three days ago). Now I’m a speedboat 🚤 VROOM VROOM!!

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    I don’t understand the need for the tool. I presume you can delete it from your device yourself and the tool just frees up the space in your iCloud? I’m not sure why that’s necessary but then I consider iCloud to be mostly an annoyance that makes it difficult to sync my podcasts to my iPod.

    A little spam from U2 isn’t a big deal but making it difficult to delete just highlights what a disaster in user experience iOS is.

    • Jakob Penca

      yea the tool removes the album from your account entirely.
      otherwise you would always have it as a download option in your library, and if you’re someone who really does not like anything to do with U2 (cough!!!!) the removal is very welcome.

      • B.C. Thunderthud

        That sounds like an overreaction though, it’s not really necessary but it just highlights how badly this worked as a publicity move. Contrast with the Jay-Z Samsung album, that got some criticism but it also got them an ad campaign, I don’t really see any upside here, even if the backlash is kind of silly.

        • No, that’s right – and that’s exactly the point. It’s aesthetic/personal. But you have to take those things seriously doing marketing.

          I think people don’t really care about Samsung; that’s the difference. Apple is a company people like enough to cricitize. And they don’t really use Samsung tech to listen to music.

          • Eric Klein

            Being the top selling manufacturer of Android devices, I’m pretty sure quite a few people listen to music on a Samsung device. I know it’s my family’s primary way to listen.

          • Sorry, I was vague. I should have said Samsung apps. With Apple, it’s iTunes. With Android, they’re presumably associating music listening more with Spotify, Google, Amazon. Samsung per se I think doesn’t have the same brand association with music. And a big part of that was built by the iPod. I see neither the same praise nor criticism of Samsung which makes me think to most owners of their devices, they’re just a delivery platform.

          • Eric Klein

            That’s a fair point. We’re definitely getting our music via 3rd party apps (mostly Google and Spotify), not Samsung’s apps. Although, I have to admit, if Samsung pushed down an album of something I didn’t want to my phone, I wouldn’t be too happy with them, but that’s more to do with the fact that I don’t use Samsung’s ecosystem for anything. If Google Music pushed something down, even if I hated it, I don’t think I’d be all that upset. Probably just remove it and move on with life. It’s easy enough to skip over, and I’m just not that worried about what people think of my taste in music. Guess I’m just getting old… 🙂

        • mar

          Did it work badly?
          (Is iOS a “disaster in user experience”?)
          I didn’t read a lot of thank you’s, but there have to be
          a few million U2 fans?
          Probably a lot more than those cranky dudes making a big stink?

          • I’m actually not certain about that. Hard to gauge at this point.

            But I think you couple this with bad reviews and see at least some poor press for U2. It may have started with some loud, cranky voices, but … yeah, if you’re U2 trying to get positive buzz, it isn’t working.

            I don’t think Apple has to worry much, because they hit it out of the park on iPhone 6/6 Plus and Apple Watch, from a publicity standpoint. This is more about U2.

            But it should be a cautionary tale for other promotional stunts.

          • mercury

            It’s kind of like internet trolls. If you look at the number of trolls on the internet, you would assume everyone lives at home with their parents. But that’s not the case.

            I had no problems with the free album (and wouldn’t have regardless of the group). iTunes is a mess though, which is a bigger issue.

            As far as U2, they got $100 million. I think that would ease the pain.

    • iTunes purchases don’t count toward iCloud storage space. So this is just convenience. You have something in your collection that doesn’t belong there.

      There isn’t really a problem there. But it shows that people take this personally.

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    I don’t understand the need for the tool. I presume you can delete it from your device yourself and the tool just frees up the space in your iCloud? I’m not sure why that’s necessary but then I consider iCloud to be mostly an annoyance that makes it difficult to sync my podcasts to my iPod.

    A little spam from U2 isn’t a big deal but making it difficult to delete just highlights what a disaster in user experience iOS is.

    • Jakob Penca

      yea the tool removes the album from your account entirely.
      otherwise you would always have it as a download option in your library, and if you’re someone who really does not like anything to do with U2 (cough!!!!) the removal is very welcome.

      • B.C. Thunderthud

        That sounds like an overreaction though, it’s not really necessary but it just highlights how badly this worked as a publicity move. Contrast with the Jay-Z Samsung album, that got some criticism but it also got them an ad campaign, I don’t really see any upside here, even if the backlash is kind of silly.

        • No, that’s right – and that’s exactly the point. It’s aesthetic/personal. But you have to take those things seriously doing marketing.

          I think people don’t really care about Samsung; that’s the difference. Apple is a company people like enough to cricitize. And they don’t really use Samsung tech to listen to music.

          • Eric Klein

            Being the top selling manufacturer of Android devices, I’m pretty sure quite a few people listen to music on a Samsung device. I know it’s my family’s primary way to listen.

          • Sorry, I was vague. I should have said Samsung apps. With Apple, it’s iTunes. With Android, they’re presumably associating music listening more with Spotify, Google, Amazon. Samsung per se I think doesn’t have the same brand association with music. And a big part of that was built by the iPod. I see neither the same praise nor criticism of Samsung which makes me think to most owners of their devices, they’re just a delivery platform.

          • Eric Klein

            That’s a fair point. We’re definitely getting our music via 3rd party apps (mostly Google and Spotify), not Samsung’s apps. Although, I have to admit, if Samsung pushed down an album of something I didn’t want to my phone, I wouldn’t be too happy with them, but that’s more to do with the fact that I don’t use Samsung’s ecosystem for anything. If Google Music pushed something down, even if I hated it, I don’t think I’d be all that upset. Probably just remove it and move on with life. It’s easy enough to skip over, and I’m just not that worried about what people think of my taste in music. Guess I’m just getting old… 🙂

        • mar

          Did it work badly?
          (Is iOS a “disaster in user experience”?)
          I didn’t read a lot of thank you’s, but there have to be
          a few million U2 fans?
          Probably a lot more than those cranky dudes making a big stink?

          • I’m actually not certain about that. Hard to gauge at this point.

            But I think you couple this with bad reviews and see at least some poor press for U2. It may have started with some loud, cranky voices, but … yeah, if you’re U2 trying to get positive buzz, it isn’t working.

            I don’t think Apple has to worry much, because they hit it out of the park on iPhone 6/6 Plus and Apple Watch, from a publicity standpoint. This is more about U2.

            But it should be a cautionary tale for other promotional stunts.

          • mercury

            It’s kind of like internet trolls. If you look at the number of trolls on the internet, you would assume everyone lives at home with their parents. But that’s not the case.

            I had no problems with the free album (and wouldn’t have regardless of the group). iTunes is a mess though, which is a bigger issue.

            As far as U2, they got $100 million. I think that would ease the pain.

    • iTunes purchases don’t count toward iCloud storage space. So this is just convenience. You have something in your collection that doesn’t belong there.

      There isn’t really a problem there. But it shows that people take this personally.

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    I don’t understand the need for the tool. I presume you can delete it from your device yourself and the tool just frees up the space in your iCloud? I’m not sure why that’s necessary but then I consider iCloud to be mostly an annoyance that makes it difficult to sync my podcasts to my iPod.

    A little spam from U2 isn’t a big deal but making it difficult to delete just highlights what a disaster in user experience iOS is.

    • Jakob Penca

      yea the tool removes the album from your account entirely.
      otherwise you would always have it as a download option in your library, and if you’re someone who really does not like anything to do with U2 (cough!!!!) the removal is very welcome.

      • B.C. Thunderthud

        That sounds like an overreaction though, it’s not really necessary but it just highlights how badly this worked as a publicity move. Contrast with the Jay-Z Samsung album, that got some criticism but it also got them an ad campaign, I don’t really see any upside here, even if the backlash is kind of silly.

        • No, that’s right – and that’s exactly the point. It’s aesthetic/personal. But you have to take those things seriously doing marketing.

          I think people don’t really care about Samsung; that’s the difference. Apple is a company people like enough to cricitize. And they don’t really use Samsung tech to listen to music.

          • Eric Klein

            Being the top selling manufacturer of Android devices, I’m pretty sure quite a few people listen to music on a Samsung device. I know it’s my family’s primary way to listen.

          • Sorry, I was vague. I should have said Samsung apps. With Apple, it’s iTunes. With Android, they’re presumably associating music listening more with Spotify, Google, Amazon. Samsung per se I think doesn’t have the same brand association with music. And a big part of that was built by the iPod. I see neither the same praise nor criticism of Samsung which makes me think to most owners of their devices, they’re just a delivery platform.

          • Eric Klein

            That’s a fair point. We’re definitely getting our music via 3rd party apps (mostly Google and Spotify), not Samsung’s apps. Although, I have to admit, if Samsung pushed down an album of something I didn’t want to my phone, I wouldn’t be too happy with them, but that’s more to do with the fact that I don’t use Samsung’s ecosystem for anything. If Google Music pushed something down, even if I hated it, I don’t think I’d be all that upset. Probably just remove it and move on with life. It’s easy enough to skip over, and I’m just not that worried about what people think of my taste in music. Guess I’m just getting old… 🙂

        • mar

          Did it work badly?
          (Is iOS a “disaster in user experience”?)
          I didn’t read a lot of thank you’s, but there have to be
          a few million U2 fans?
          Probably a lot more than those cranky dudes making a big stink?

          • I’m actually not certain about that. Hard to gauge at this point.

            But I think you couple this with bad reviews and see at least some poor press for U2. It may have started with some loud, cranky voices, but … yeah, if you’re U2 trying to get positive buzz, it isn’t working.

            I don’t think Apple has to worry much, because they hit it out of the park on iPhone 6/6 Plus and Apple Watch, from a publicity standpoint. This is more about U2.

            But it should be a cautionary tale for other promotional stunts.

          • mercury

            It’s kind of like internet trolls. If you look at the number of trolls on the internet, you would assume everyone lives at home with their parents. But that’s not the case.

            I had no problems with the free album (and wouldn’t have regardless of the group). iTunes is a mess though, which is a bigger issue.

            As far as U2, they got $100 million. I think that would ease the pain.

    • iTunes purchases don’t count toward iCloud storage space. So this is just convenience. You have something in your collection that doesn’t belong there.

      There isn’t really a problem there. But it shows that people take this personally.

  • Salman Bakht

    I think to judge the reaction to this marketing attempt (and definitely to judge the reaction as an overreaction), two groups of people should be considered: those that knew about the U2/iTunes stunt when they opened their iTunes, and those that didn’t. Many in the first group found it to be an obnoxious form of advertising, but some people the second group that, at least temporarily, that something had really gone wrong, e.g., their account was hacked or they bought something by accident.

    It’s not like looking a gift horse in the mouth – it’s like suddenly finding a horse tied up in your backyard. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but a better analogy might be like when you go to a restaurant and the waiter gives you a free dish. But imagine that after giving the dish, the waiter left before you got a chance to ask about it and never showed up again – some might think it’s free food, but others would think it’s a mistake, and worse others would think they were being scammed (since this kind of scam is known to happen).

    To me, I think the problem was that Apple was trying to be too clever. They could have had a notice on iTunes that informed the user of the promotion and let the user know crucial information like that they weren’t being charged, that it would automatically download to their devices, and that the promotion wouldn’t affect their iCould storage (and maybe even a option to opt in or out of the promotion). But that would ruin the surprise (and also require an update to iTunes and make it obvious that this was advertising and not a “gift”.). Also, I wonder if Apple assumed that everyone would just know about their promotion – that half a billion people were watching the keynote or following tech blogs.

    (BTW, I’m not disregarding the criticisms of people that did actually know about the promotion. No one really knew before it happened. No one could know that they had to change all their settings so that they wouldn’t download the album. There was, intentionally I think, no opportunity to opt out.)

    • Yeah, definitely agree on all counts.

      I’m also very curious – what was the reaction of people who love U2? Is there some net benefit to Apple, or U2?

      I suspect this is actually hard to answer…

  • I think to judge the reaction to this marketing attempt (and definitely to judge the reaction as an overreaction), two groups of people should be considered: those that knew about the U2/iTunes stunt when they opened their iTunes, and those that didn’t. Many in the first group found it to be an obnoxious form of advertising, but some people the second group that, at least temporarily, that something had really gone wrong, e.g., their account was hacked or they bought something by accident.

    It’s not like looking a gift horse in the mouth – it’s like suddenly finding a horse tied up in your backyard. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but a better analogy might be like when you go to a restaurant and the waiter gives you a free dish. But imagine that after giving the dish, the waiter left before you got a chance to ask about it and never showed up again – some might think it’s free food, but others would think it’s a mistake, and worse others would think they were being scammed (since this kind of scam is known to happen).

    To me, I think the problem was that Apple was trying to be too clever. They could have had a notice on iTunes that informed the user of the promotion and let the user know crucial information like that they weren’t being charged, that it would automatically download to their devices, and that the promotion wouldn’t affect their iCould storage (and maybe even a option to opt in or out of the promotion). But that would ruin the surprise (and also require an update to iTunes and make it obvious that this was advertising and not a “gift”.). Also, I wonder if Apple assumed that everyone would just know about their promotion – that half a billion people were watching the keynote or following tech blogs.

    (BTW, I’m not disregarding the criticisms of people that did actually know about the promotion. No one really knew before it happened. No one could know that they had to change all their settings so that they wouldn’t download the album. There was, intentionally I think, no opportunity to opt out.)

    • Yeah, definitely agree on all counts.

      I’m also very curious – what was the reaction of people who love U2? Is there some net benefit to Apple, or U2?

      I suspect this is actually hard to answer…

  • I think to judge the reaction to this marketing attempt (and definitely to judge the reaction as an overreaction), two groups of people should be considered: those that knew about the U2/iTunes stunt when they opened their iTunes, and those that didn’t. Many in the first group found it to be an obnoxious form of advertising, but some people the second group that, at least temporarily, that something had really gone wrong, e.g., their account was hacked or they bought something by accident.

    It’s not like looking a gift horse in the mouth – it’s like suddenly finding a horse tied up in your backyard. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but a better analogy might be like when you go to a restaurant and the waiter gives you a free dish. But imagine that after giving the dish, the waiter left before you got a chance to ask about it and never showed up again – some might think it’s free food, but others would think it’s a mistake, and worse others would think they were being scammed (since this kind of scam is known to happen).

    To me, I think the problem was that Apple was trying to be too clever. They could have had a notice on iTunes that informed the user of the promotion and let the user know crucial information like that they weren’t being charged, that it would automatically download to their devices, and that the promotion wouldn’t affect their iCould storage (and maybe even a option to opt in or out of the promotion). But that would ruin the surprise (and also require an update to iTunes and make it obvious that this was advertising and not a “gift”.). Also, I wonder if Apple assumed that everyone would just know about their promotion – that half a billion people were watching the keynote or following tech blogs.

    (BTW, I’m not disregarding the criticisms of people that did actually know about the promotion. No one really knew before it happened. No one could know that they had to change all their settings so that they wouldn’t download the album. There was, intentionally I think, no opportunity to opt out.)

    • Yeah, definitely agree on all counts.

      I’m also very curious – what was the reaction of people who love U2? Is there some net benefit to Apple, or U2?

      I suspect this is actually hard to answer…

  • Graham Metcalfe

    Who cares. A free album. Oh my god the world is coming to an end! Get off it folks there are a lot of problems in the world that you should be thinking about, not the 1st-world problem of “They gave me a free album and I don’t even like that band.” Sorry, but all this hubbub about a free album kinda makes me sick.

    • EricM

      I totally agree. I looked at my (music file) virgin iPad to see if the U2 album was there and was surprised to find 48 cloud songs on it. Although some were “songs of the week” I’ve added through the years but most, like the U2 album, seem to have been given for free, w/o any action on my part. Big deal!

      • gunboat_d

        isn’t that the issue? it’s not about taste, but about a company putting files on your device without your knowledge or continued consent?

        • mercury

          The company already has put several files on your device without your knowledge (unless you assume most people understand what is actually “in” the iOS).

        • No, actually, no files are on your device. They’re added to your cloud account.

      • Actually, that underlies a separate argument here – that no one understood how the cloud-based promotional sharing from Apple worked. (And I’m likewise surprised that no one until now noticed other random giveaways…)

        • EricM

          They didn’t really promote the fact that they were going to give the album away, they wanted it to be a surprise it seems. I asked a U2 fan if they had listened to the album and they had no idea that U2 had a new album. Now, they’re promoting it, but it almost seems like they’re trying to save face. I don’t whether its consumers would expect that they would have to take action before receiving the free gift or if people in general don’t really know what the “cloud” is, or both. In any case, its def an overreaction.

    • Well, let’s see —

      It’s a deal valued by some at about US$100 million, and the single largest download event in digital music history.

      The act in question is one of the world’s most valuable music properties.

      It’s the world’s single most powerful electronics company, with a net worth well above US$100 *billion*.

      It’s the most popular music software involved.

      And the topic is digital music distribution, here on a site with “digital music” in its title.

      Sorry, I’d file this under “relevant topics of discussion.” In fact, the power of a company to give away a record for free when artists have to pay to have their music heard, this is actually significant creatively and economically.

      Now, does that mean you should say ” Oh my god the world is coming to an end!” … um, no. Which I didn’t. So… who are you talking to?

  • Graham Metcalfe

    Who cares. A free album. Oh my god the world is coming to an end! Get off it folks there are a lot of problems in the world that you should be thinking about, not the 1st-world problem of “They gave me a free album and I don’t even like that band.” Sorry, but all this hubbub about a free album kinda makes me sick.

    • EricM

      I totally agree. I looked at my (music file) virgin iPad to see if the U2 album was there and was surprised to find 48 cloud songs on it. Although some were “songs of the week” I’ve added through the years but most, like the U2 album, seem to have been given for free, w/o any action on my part. Big deal!

      • gunboat_d

        isn’t that the issue? it’s not about taste, but about a company putting files on your device without your knowledge or continued consent?

        • mercury

          The company already has put several files on your device without your knowledge (unless you assume most people understand what is actually “in” the iOS).

        • No, actually, no files are on your device. They’re added to your cloud account.

      • Actually, that underlies a separate argument here – that no one understood how the cloud-based promotional sharing from Apple worked. (And I’m likewise surprised that no one until now noticed other random giveaways…)

        • EricM

          They didn’t really promote the fact that they were going to give the album away, they wanted it to be a surprise it seems. I asked a U2 fan if they had listened to the album and they had no idea that U2 had a new album. Now, they’re promoting it, but it almost seems like they’re trying to save face. I don’t whether its consumers would expect that they would have to take action before receiving the free gift or if people in general don’t really know what the “cloud” is, or both. In any case, its def an overreaction.

    • Well, let’s see —

      It’s a deal valued by some at about US$100 million, and the single largest download event in digital music history.

      The act in question is one of the world’s most valuable music properties.

      It’s the world’s single most powerful electronics company, with a net worth well above US$100 *billion*.

      It’s the most popular music software involved.

      And the topic is digital music distribution, here on a site with “digital music” in its title.

      Sorry, I’d file this under “relevant topics of discussion.” In fact, the power of a company to give away a record for free when artists have to pay to have their music heard, this is actually significant creatively and economically.

      Now, does that mean you should say ” Oh my god the world is coming to an end!” … um, no. Which I didn’t. So… who are you talking to?

  • Graham Metcalfe

    Who cares. A free album. Oh my god the world is coming to an end! Get off it folks there are a lot of problems in the world that you should be thinking about, not the 1st-world problem of “They gave me a free album and I don’t even like that band.” Sorry, but all this hubbub about a free album kinda makes me sick.

    • EricM

      I totally agree. I looked at my (music file) virgin iPad to see if the U2 album was there and was surprised to find 48 cloud songs on it. Although some were “songs of the week” I’ve added through the years but most, like the U2 album, seem to have been given for free, w/o any action on my part. Big deal!

      • gunboat_d

        isn’t that the issue? it’s not about taste, but about a company putting files on your device without your knowledge or continued consent?

        • mercury

          The company already has put several files on your device without your knowledge (unless you assume most people understand what is actually “in” the iOS).

        • No, actually, no files are on your device. They’re added to your cloud account.

      • Actually, that underlies a separate argument here – that no one understood how the cloud-based promotional sharing from Apple worked. (And I’m likewise surprised that no one until now noticed other random giveaways…)

        • EricM

          They didn’t really promote the fact that they were going to give the album away, they wanted it to be a surprise it seems. I asked a U2 fan if they had listened to the album and they had no idea that U2 had a new album. Now, they’re promoting it, but it almost seems like they’re trying to save face. I don’t whether its consumers would expect that they would have to take action before receiving the free gift or if people in general don’t really know what the “cloud” is, or both. In any case, its def an overreaction.

    • Well, let’s see —

      It’s a deal valued by some at about US$100 million, and the single largest download event in digital music history.

      The act in question is one of the world’s most valuable music properties.

      It’s the world’s single most powerful electronics company, with a net worth well above US$100 *billion*.

      It’s the most popular music software involved.

      And the topic is digital music distribution, here on a site with “digital music” in its title.

      Sorry, I’d file this under “relevant topics of discussion.” In fact, the power of a company to give away a record for free when artists have to pay to have their music heard, this is actually significant creatively and economically.

      Now, does that mean you should say ” Oh my god the world is coming to an end!” … um, no. Which I didn’t. So… who are you talking to?

  • lala

    Seams like this wasn’t so clever. Who cares. iTunes festival is good. No one talks about that.

  • lala

    Seams like this wasn’t so clever. Who cares. iTunes festival is good. No one talks about that.

  • lala

    Seams like this wasn’t so clever. Who cares. iTunes festival is good. No one talks about that.

  • Velocipede

    I bet there are more people who would not have downloaded the free album from iTunes, but since they have it, they are listening to it. Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products. I agree that it was distasteful and clumsy, but I am not sure it was a “marketing fail”.
    Ironically, as a U2 fan I have yet to listen to the album because I have been streaming concerts from the iTunes festival. The lack of coordination between the festival and the product launch/album release seems like a missed opportunity.

    • gunboat_d

      “Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products.”
      dunno about that. buying tickets to a U2 show is a lot harder than turning up at the Magic Stick for an artist that did some proper viral marketing. and a lot more pricey. There are always going to be enough U2 fans to snap up 40,000 tickets in 24 hours.
      and i know this is a stupid question, but doesn’t everybody already know U2? i figure every man woman child and dog in the US at least knows “With or Without You”; even if they have never bought an album, they know *those* songs.

  • Velocipede

    I bet there are more people who would not have downloaded the free album from iTunes, but since they have it, they are listening to it. Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products. I agree that it was distasteful and clumsy, but I am not sure it was a “marketing fail”.
    Ironically, as a U2 fan I have yet to listen to the album because I have been streaming concerts from the iTunes festival. The lack of coordination between the festival and the product launch/album release seems like a missed opportunity.

    • gunboat_d

      “Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products.”
      dunno about that. buying tickets to a U2 show is a lot harder than turning up at the Magic Stick for an artist that did some proper viral marketing. and a lot more pricey. There are always going to be enough U2 fans to snap up 40,000 tickets in 24 hours.
      and i know this is a stupid question, but doesn’t everybody already know U2? i figure every man woman child and dog in the US at least knows “With or Without You”; even if they have never bought an album, they know *those* songs.

  • Velocipede

    I bet there are more people who would not have downloaded the free album from iTunes, but since they have it, they are listening to it. Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products. I agree that it was distasteful and clumsy, but I am not sure it was a “marketing fail”.
    Ironically, as a U2 fan I have yet to listen to the album because I have been streaming concerts from the iTunes festival. The lack of coordination between the festival and the product launch/album release seems like a missed opportunity.

    • gunboat_d

      “Some of them will end up going to U2 concerts or buying other U2 products.”
      dunno about that. buying tickets to a U2 show is a lot harder than turning up at the Magic Stick for an artist that did some proper viral marketing. and a lot more pricey. There are always going to be enough U2 fans to snap up 40,000 tickets in 24 hours.
      and i know this is a stupid question, but doesn’t everybody already know U2? i figure every man woman child and dog in the US at least knows “With or Without You”; even if they have never bought an album, they know *those* songs.

  • dylan digits

    The best analogy I’ve come up with so far in trying to convey how poorly this was handled is a physical example: You buy the ubiquitous EXPEDIT bookshelf from IKEA to organize your records and find that, months or years later, IKEA has let itself in to your flat and added a couple of 12″s that some producer (whose music you never liked, in many cases) to your collection.

    It’s a silly premise, but that’s basically my objection to it. Give me the option of downloading it? Thanks, but no thanks, and good luck with the new album. Insert it, unsolicited, into my collection? That’s some chutzpah. Yeah, I can just discard those theoretical 12″s, and yes now I can completely remove the unwanted album from my iTunes library, but why was this idea given a green light in the first place?

  • nothingnatural

    The best analogy I’ve come up with so far in trying to convey how poorly this was handled is a physical example: You buy the ubiquitous EXPEDIT bookshelf from IKEA to organize your records and find that, months or years later, IKEA has let itself in to your flat and added a couple of 12″s from some producer (whose music you never liked, in many cases) to your collection.

    It’s a silly premise, but that’s basically my objection to it. Give me the option of downloading it? Thanks, but no thanks, and good luck with the new album. Insert it, unsolicited, into my collection? That’s some chutzpah. Yeah, I can just discard those theoretical 12″s, and yes now I can completely remove the unwanted album from my iTunes library, but why was this idea given a green light in the first place?

  • nothingnatural

    The best analogy I’ve come up with so far in trying to convey how poorly this was handled is a physical example: You buy the ubiquitous EXPEDIT bookshelf from IKEA to organize your records and find that, months or years later, IKEA has let itself in to your flat and added a couple of 12″s from some producer (whose music you never liked, in many cases) to your collection.

    It’s a silly premise, but that’s basically my objection to it. Give me the option of downloading it? Thanks, but no thanks, and good luck with the new album. Insert it, unsolicited, into my collection? That’s some chutzpah. Yeah, I can just discard those theoretical 12″s, and yes now I can completely remove the unwanted album from my iTunes library, but why was this idea given a green light in the first place?

  • Bob

    Clearly this is a massive win for U2 because people are talking about them – publicity is publicity, good or bad. The worst thing is to be forgotten… I don’t think Bono could have endured it for much longer, the poor dear.

    • Ha, yes, I think that’s also true, though… see the Aphex Twin example. It’s possible to get press and increase your cool factor. U2 could also get themselves into the news with some sort of prostitution bust, and maybe even boost record sales, but that doesn’t mean their publicist is going to be thrilled. 😉

      • Aaron

        Aphex Twin example isn’t equative because the guy intentionally kept himself out of the main stream for over 12 years or whatever.

        • Doesn’t that sort of prove the point?

  • Bob

    Clearly this is a massive win for U2 because people are talking about them – publicity is publicity, good or bad. The worst thing is to be forgotten… I don’t think Bono could have endured it for much longer, the poor dear.

    • Ha, yes, I think that’s also true, though… see the Aphex Twin example. It’s possible to get press and increase your cool factor. U2 could also get themselves into the news with some sort of prostitution bust, and maybe even boost record sales, but that doesn’t mean their publicist is going to be thrilled. 😉

      • Aaron

        Aphex Twin example isn’t equative because the guy intentionally kept himself out of the main stream for over 12 years or whatever.

        • Doesn’t that sort of prove the point?

  • Bob

    Clearly this is a massive win for U2 because people are talking about them – publicity is publicity, good or bad. The worst thing is to be forgotten… I don’t think Bono could have endured it for much longer, the poor dear.

    • Ha, yes, I think that’s also true, though… see the Aphex Twin example. It’s possible to get press and increase your cool factor. U2 could also get themselves into the news with some sort of prostitution bust, and maybe even boost record sales, but that doesn’t mean their publicist is going to be thrilled. 😉

      • Aaron

        Aphex Twin example isn’t equative because the guy intentionally kept himself out of the main stream for over 12 years or whatever.

        • Doesn’t that sort of prove the point?

  • The funny thing is they won either way and got a big amount of our attention.

  • The funny thing is they won either way and got a big amount of our attention.

  • The funny thing is they won either way and got a big amount of our attention.

  • itchy

    u2 gives there album away for free and people will still complain. you should be able to delete it if you don’t want it. but thought it was a cool thing for them to do. giving back what a concept.

    • Demonstrates still more confusion. So Apple gave away the record, not U2. But by assuming U2 couldn’t bet these sales on their own with sagging demand for their music and in fact this sort of album purchase in general, they bore the criticism.

      Hint: if no one understands a promotion, it might not have worked.

  • itchy

    u2 gives there album away for free and people will still complain. you should be able to delete it if you don’t want it. but thought it was a cool thing for them to do. giving back what a concept.

    • Demonstrates still more confusion. So Apple gave away the record, not U2. But by assuming U2 couldn’t bet these sales on their own with sagging demand for their music and in fact this sort of album purchase in general, they bore the criticism.

      Hint: if no one understands a promotion, it might not have worked.

  • itchy

    u2 gives there album away for free and people will still complain. you should be able to delete it if you don’t want it. but thought it was a cool thing for them to do. giving back what a concept.

    • Demonstrates still more confusion. So Apple gave away the record, not U2. But by assuming U2 couldn’t bet these sales on their own with sagging demand for their music and in fact this sort of album purchase in general, they bore the criticism.

      Hint: if no one understands a promotion, it might not have worked.

  • Ross Healy

    A bit late to this but what amazes me is that when you go to the itunes store ( I see 100% stuff I am not interested in) I am amazed that Apple hasnt though of a way to have a smart system in place that shoves the stuff we really like in our faces. I like Aphex, Autechre, SND, Vibert, Mego, Villalobos, Plastikman, Gamelan, The Orb, Techno etc I always see shit that does not interest me in the slightest, Katy Perry etc. Times they arent a changing.

  • Ross Healy

    A bit late to this but what amazes me is that when you go to the itunes store ( I see 100% stuff I am not interested in) I am amazed that Apple hasnt though of a way to have a smart system in place that shoves the stuff we really like in our faces. I like Aphex, Autechre, SND, Vibert, Mego, Villalobos, Plastikman, Gamelan, The Orb, Techno etc I always see shit that does not interest me in the slightest, Katy Perry etc. Times they arent a changing.

  • Ross Healy

    A bit late to this but what amazes me is that when you go to the itunes store ( I see 100% stuff I am not interested in) I am amazed that Apple hasnt though of a way to have a smart system in place that shoves the stuff we really like in our faces. I like Aphex, Autechre, SND, Vibert, Mego, Villalobos, Plastikman, Gamelan, The Orb, Techno etc I always see shit that does not interest me in the slightest, Katy Perry etc. Times they arent a changing.

  • Daniel

    Why are you referring to Aphex Twin as “they” and “their”? 😛

  • Daniel

    Why are you referring to Aphex Twin as “they” and “their”? 😛

  • Daniel

    Why are you referring to Aphex Twin as “they” and “their”? 😛

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Technology ARROGANCE.
    Software ARROGANCE.
    It will continue from these large companies unless people speak up about it.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Technology ARROGANCE.
    Software ARROGANCE.
    It will continue from these large companies unless people speak up about it.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Technology ARROGANCE.
    Software ARROGANCE.
    It will continue from these large companies unless people speak up about it.