Monday, 15 September 2014

On U2 and Apple, Part 2

So, is everybody enjoying their new free U2 album?

We know that plenty of people are well and truly NOT enjoying it. But, more to the point, why is this happening?

I have many questions to ask about the entire thing. Does the CEO of Apple still think U2 are still relevant and popular? If so, I think there needs to be questions asked as to whether he really has the finger on the pulse of popular culture. Aside from that, the $100 million marketing campaign can only be beneficial for both U2 and the new Apple iPhone 6, as well as re-drawing attention to the fact that iTunes actually sells music, and not just apps.

What are U2 getting out of this? They still get paid. The band and their record label would get paid accordingly. And I decry people who claim this is selling out. Who, honestly, would knock back the chance at that kind of money, even if you were rich? What is certain is that while the public, at this stage, don't have to pay money for the album currently, the band were compensated for their work.

On the other side of the coin, their last album, 2009's "No Line on the Horizon", was considered something of a flop, having sold less than 400,000 copies in the UK. This would at least ensure that the record gets put into the hands of music fans everywhere, and setting up the album for big sales when it is released for sale in October.

The Guardian published a debate on the subject with one writer claiming that this stunt devalues, in the mind of some punters, the album as a product that needs to be purchased, and not downloaded illegally via a torrent site. This attitude, to me, is disingenuous, as a lot of people do actually download it to "try before they buy". Streaming services like Spotify can perform a similar function, and thus the copyright owner gets more sales. Either way, artists need to be compensated for their efforts so that they can pay their rent. This stunt is just another way to ensure that U2 get there rent money (as if they need it these days) and the punter gets something for free

However, the outrage from this is very real and it begs the question as to who whether the marketeers really understand their target market. U2 have reportedly sold 150 million records worldwide. With 13 studio albums and a couple of hits compilations, on average that is around 10 million per LP. All the hardcore fans would own each and every one. Factor in the people who don't own the entire back catalog, but own maybe a few albums here and there, you're looking at, conservatively, 30 million people the world over, who would love the idea of a free U2 album. That means that there is a good chance you could pick up a few new fans in the other 470 million, but there would also be a whole heap of people who are going to be royally ticked off by this stunt, or at the very least indifferent to it.

The other side of the coin is that this is a free gift. As the saying goes "never look a gift horse in the mouth". Accept it graciously, and if you don't like it, delete it.

I certainly would, if I owned an iPhone...

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