After Apple had finished showing off the new iPhones and its smartwatch to the world, U2 took to the stage at Tuesday’s press event, with Tim Cook announcing that the group’s latest album would be made available for free to everyone with an iTunes account. According to reports, Apple handed over $100 million in return for the eleven tracks that make up Songs Of Innocence.
Billboard mentions the $100 million figure, confirmed separately by “multiple sources,” in an interview with U2 manager Guy Oseary. Reaction to the launch was mixed, with some suggesting that the move reflected badly on both U2 and Apple; nevertheless, Re/code reports that over 2 million tracks from the album have been downloaded, though perhaps not all of them deliberately.
“The goal was: how do we reach as many as possible?” Oseary explains to Billboard in the interview. “U2 first worked with Apple nearly 10 years to the day when they were sharing a stage with Steve Jobs and launching their iPod with many fewer accounts, and here we are 10 years later with Apple gifting this album to 7 percent of the planet.”
However you feel about U2’s music, the launch is undoubtedly one of the biggest in history — at the touch of a button, 500 million users had access to the album instantly. There’s more to come from the partnership too, as lead single “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” is expected to feature prominently in Apple advertising campaigns in the run up to Christmas. Songs Of Innocence is available exclusively on iTunes for a period of five weeks.
“We’re working on other things as well with Apple that have to do with how music is heard and innovation,” says Oseary. “There’s a lot of things still to come that are really interesting. The band really wants people to engage with albums, they want them to support the art form of artwork and lyrics and video content and just get into their music in a much different way than an MP3 file. This is a long relationship.”