Home Tech Bono Apologizes for 2014 iTunes Album Stunt, Remembers Pitching Steve Jobs a U2 iPod – Slashdot

Bono Apologizes for 2014 iTunes Album Stunt, Remembers Pitching Steve Jobs a U2 iPod – Slashdot


Remember back in 2014 when every iTunes music library suddenly started showing U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence?

In a new memoir (excerpted by the Guardian), U2’s lead singer Bono says he’s very sorry — and explains exactly how it happened:

“Free music?” asked Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, with a look of mild incredulity. “Are you talking about free music…? But the whole point of what we’re trying to do at Apple is to not give away music free. The point is to make sure musicians get paid.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t think we give it away free. I think you pay us for it, and then you give it away free, as a gift to people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful…?”

Tim was not convinced. “There’s something not right about giving your art away for free,” he said. “And this is just to people who like U2?”

“Well,” I replied, “I think we should give it away to everybody. I mean, it’s their choice whether they want to listen to it.” See what just happened? You might call it vaunting ambition. Or vaulting. Critics might accuse me of overreach. It is…..

At first I thought this was just an internet squall. We were Santa Claus and we’d knocked a few bricks out as we went down the chimney with our bag of songs. But quite quickly we realised we’d bumped into a serious discussion about the access of big tech to our lives. The part of me that will always be punk rock thought this was exactly what the Clash would do. Subversive. But subversive is hard to claim when you’re working with a company that’s about to be the biggest on Earth.

For all the custard pies it brought Apple — who swiftly provided a way to delete the album — Tim Cook never blinked. “You talked us into an experiment,” he said. “We ran with it. It may not have worked, but we have to experiment, because the music business in its present form is not working for everyone.”

If you need any more clues as to why Steve Jobs picked Tim Cook to take on the leadership of Apple, this is one. Probably instinctively conservative, he was ready to try something different to solve a problem. When it went wrong, he was ready to take responsibility.
“A study six months later found that only a quarter of iTunes users actually listened to at least one Song of Innocence,” remembers Rolling Stone.
Elsewhere in the excerpt, Bono talks about actually meeting with Steve Jobs in 2004, a conversation that resulted in the iconic “Vertigo” iPod ad. Then a new single, U2 offered the track to Apple to use for free, though the band attempted to get “some Apple stock” in exchange.

“‘Sorry,’ said Steve. ‘That’s a dealbreaker,'” Bono wrote. Instead, U2 settled for their own branded iPod.
Bono suggested it be black and red, according to his article in the Guardian — describing Steve Jobs’ reaction as “nonplussed.”
Apple, he said, is about white hardware. “You wouldn’t want a black one.” He thought for a moment. “I can show you what it would look like, but you will not like it.”

When, later, he showed the design to us, we loved it. So much that he’d ask Jony Ive, the company’s design genius, to look at it again, and OK, maybe even experiment with a red component on the device, too. To reflect our Atomic Bomb album cover….

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