Apple/U2 album giveaway leads to “the biggest album launch ever”

If you watched Apple’s event on Tuesday, you no doubt heard that Tim Cook gave away U2’s newest album to about 500 million iTunes users. Three days after the release, Interscope Records said the release is “the biggest album launch ever.”

Of course that makes sense with so many people getting the album for free. However, older albums have also seen significant sales, as well.

“After delivering the new album for free to over half a billion iTunes customers, U2 also saw an unprecedented number of its previous releases enter the iTunes US album chart,” according to Interscope. “As of Thursday afternoon, 24 of the bands titles had charted on the top 200 of the chart, and the U218 Singles Collection had reached top 10 in 46 countries.”

It was a good day for Apple, but it looks like it turned out okay for U2 as well.



  • Most of the chatter I’ve seen around this has been people who are feeling that Apple just putting music on their phones unbidden is overstepping a line…

    • lucascott

      Apple didn’t put it on their devices unbidden. They choose to have automatic downloads turned on.

      • Waylaid

        Even if you don’t have automatic downloads turned on the U2 album still shows up under ‘recently added’ in your iTunes account. So, even if it doesn’t use any disk space/cloud storage it will potentially play if you have shuffle on (I tested and it does). Yes, you can go in and hide the ‘purchase’ but this doesn’t feel like a good thing to force on users.

        In the grand scheme of things, with all that is happening in the world, this is a minuscule problem but it does seem like a bit of a PR disaster for both parties – it even made the Today Programme on Radio 4…

      • I have no issue with it, and I understand that is the process, but I feel like having to agree to it would have been a good thing.

        Phones are very personal devices and people are clear not comfortable with stuff showing up on them they haven’t taken an action to put there.

      • I mean, think about it. You have to tap install to get a free app, you have to confirm a purchase to get an album. The gimmick of skipping that step feels ill-considered to me.

        • Pepe

          Yes, think about it. Companies like google steal your data 24/7, but since you’re not aware of it, you don’t care. Your phone is NOT your personal device, as long as it’s connected to the internet. Wake up buddy, you’re not in 20th century anymore.

    • Billy Razzle

      Some people will complain about absolutely anything.

    • Like A Spy Plane

      Apple has a history of free giveaways for apps/music/books/etc. For example: last year’s iTunes Twelve Days Of Christmas thing. People got mad about that too because they didn’t get the apps they wanted, and I think Apple should have learned from this.

      It’s definitely worse this time though, since Apple has pushed out the album to people’s devices without their knowledge or permission. That, and this is coming right off the heels of the iCloud photo leak scandal, when trust in “the cloud” is already low with consumers. It’s just as creepy and annoying as when Amazon pulled copies of 1984 off Kindle devices.

      This whole PR blunder is a harsh reminder that users are not really in control of their devices and are open to the whims of tacky marketing decisions for a band that many people either don’t like or haven’t even heard of (how many teenagers care about U2?).

      At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if Apple defenders think that people are being unreasonable for complaining about free stuff – the damage is already done and lots of people are both annoyed and distrustful of iTunes/iCloud as a result.

      And saying that other companies like Google and Amazon are just as bad is no excuse – Apple should aim to be better than this. Just making the album free on iTunes would have been enough (plus the ads they’re running now announcing it). There was no need to force this into people’s personal music libraries.