As you all know, this past month, U2’s newest album was made available for free to iTunes users. When that happened (and this kinda blows my mind), the complaints started. In fact, according to a recent article in British magazine NME, in a Facebook Q&A session, Bono apologized for the “stunt,” saying “Oops. I’m sorry about that. I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard. There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”
Bono, humanitarian, goodwill ambassador, and lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands in the world should NOT have apologized to this faux-outrage. It was like hating U2 became the new cool thing to do, so everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Let me point out four reasons why this is just dumb.
1. You got a U2 album for free.
I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who has spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on U2 records, concert tickets, and merchandise. Getting a record from them for free is in my opinion an altruistic thank you.
2. The music’s pretty good.
so many choices in the iTunes store aren’t. Good, I mean. Sure there are super pop hits that fly up the charts because they are what “the clubs” are playing this week, but their meteoric ride has an equally meteoric fall. “Songs of Innocence” has some pretty good music on it – some songs are fine, some are fantastic, and I’m not saying this album compares to Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, or All That You Can’t Leave Behind, (or whatever U2 album’s your favorite), but it’s very listenable and even sing-along-able.
3. Did I mention it was free?
as a musician, I would LOVE to hand out a copy of my music to every one and any one I meet. On the off chance that 5% of them (according to the article, 5% of iTunes subscribers downloaded the U2 record) would listen to it, come to a show, buy a t shirt, tell a friend, etc, it’s an amazing idea. it’s getting music out there, to the listeners, because sometimes that’s the only way anyone knows what you have to offer. I don’t have the ability or wherewithall to do hand out my music to everyone – in fact, i sheepishly offer a cd every so often, but that has more to do with my insecurity than how good I think the songs are. If I were U2, not really needing any more money, and pretty confident in the quality of the music, it’s not only a brilliant, but a thoughtful and kind idea.
4. YOU DIDNT HAVE TO DOWNLOAD IT.
here’s where the faux-furor infuriates me. U2 offered you the CD. They didn’t “put it on your device.” They weren’t “rude.” They didn’t impose on your firmly-held beliefs of the sacrosanctity of your macbook air. They said “hey, if you want to download it, it’s free.” All the anger directed at U2 (for real, though, who gets angry at U2?) was based around this point. It’s like one person started frothing at the mouth and it spread like rabies. Sad, really. iTunes users had to take the extra step that everyone purchasing something from the store has to take – actually downloading the music to their device before it’s on the computer/iPad/etc and ONLY THEN it is on their device and listenable.
Ultimately here’s the tl;dr version: U2 gave you pretty good music for free. if you didn’t want it, you didn’t have to take it. stop complaining.