Bono Says He Blames Him for U2’s Infamous Free Album on iTunes


In context: Apple may be the most expensive company in the world, but over the years it has made a number of unpopular decisions. One of them was to forcibly insert an entire U2 album into the library of every iTunes user on earth in 2014. But lead singer Bono says that neither Tim Cook nor the Cupertino company is to blame for this infamous incident — it’s all his fault.

At the presentation of the iPhone 6, which took place in September 2014, U2 suddenly appeared on stage. The Irish rockers have announced that their new 11-track album will be available to anyone with iTunes for free. When asked at the time about the band’s motives, Bono said it was “a drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity, a rush of self-promotion and a deep fear that these songs that we have invested our lives in over the past few years may not be heard.”


But, to the great surprise of the participants, not everyone liked the pompous, average “Songs of Innocence”, which received cool reviews. The appearance of the album in the people’s libraries caused a great resonance. As Bono himself notes in his memoirs “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story”, an excerpt from which was published in the Guardian, one commentator summarized this step with the words: “I woke up this morning and found Bono in the kitchen drinking my coffee. , in a bathrobe, reading the newspaper.” Another succinctly described it this way: “The price of a free U2 album is too high.” Apple even had to release a special tool to prevent the album from being linked to an account.

Bono said that in 2014 he explained to Tim Cook, Eddie Cue and Phil Schiller that U2 wanted to give away Songs of Innocence. “Do you want to give this music away for free? But the whole point of what we’re trying to do at Apple is not to give away music for free. The point is for musicians to be paid,” Cook said. “No,” Bono replied. “I don’t think we’re giving it away for free. I think you pay us for it and then give it away for free as a gift to people. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Tim Cook raised an eyebrow. “You mean we pay for an album and then just distribute it?” Bono replied, “Yes, for example, when Netflix buys a movie and distributes it to subscribers.”

Cook explained that Apple is not a subscription organization. “Not yet,— Bono said. “Let ours be the first.” Cook wasn’t convinced, asking if we should just give the album to people who like U2. “Well,” Bono replied, “I think we should give it to everyone. I mean, it’s their choice whether they want to listen to her.”

In the end, Bono said it was all his fault: “Not Guy Oh, not Edge, not Adam, not Larry, not Tim Cook, not Eddie Q.” It seems that the CEO of Apple was philosophical about the distribution. “You talked us into an experiment,” he told Bono. “We have been working with this. Maybe it didn’t work, but we have to experiment, because the music business in its current form doesn’t work for everyone.”

Bono also recalled the collaboration with Apple ten years earlier on the iPod. U2 convinced then-CEO Steve Jobs to let them appear in the famous music player silhouettes commercial. The group did not want any cash for their participation, but as a courtesy, a portion of Apple shares was requested, even a symbolic amount. Jobs refused, calling it a violation of the terms of the deal, so Bono offered an individual iPod U2, which led to a special version of the “black with a red wheel” device, which was previously only white.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here