In the past weeks it seems that everyone has an opinion about the U2/Apple deal. The surprise album, Songs of Innocence, was a free release that outraged many. Others feared that the giveaway of U2’s album would devalue music and affect the consumer’s behavior in a negative light. In a time when music industry professionals still believe that piracy is responsible for killing and decreasing music sales, this free release has become an excellent idea. A good amount of independent artists are upset that U2 and Apple gave the album away for free. They think consumers will not buy independent if mega-music stars like U2 are giving their album away for free on iTunes. However, this is far from the truth, U2 had a huge 100 million dollar Apple payday. This deal reminded me of Jay-Z’s Samsung deal. Jay-Z was rewarded handsomely for the free release of his album. Anyone who owned or bought a Samsung cell phone could download Jay-Z’s album and the same kind of questions were raised at the time of the release.
U2’s iTunes release is a great marketing and promotion strategy for so many reasons. One of the biggest reasons was the free download allows a gray market that would never listen or buy U2’s album, get the album for free. The free download gives this gray market a chance to expose themselves to U2’s music and maybe purchase one or two of their past albums. The iTunes deal will bring in new U2 fans, while preserving the existing fan base for years to come. The true win-win is the limited time reduced prices of U2’s entire catalog on iTunes. That’s right, the whole U2 catalog at a reduced price, which translates to larger sales for their catalog that would other wise be stagnant.
Store owners were upset with the exclusive deal between Apple and U2. Some feel that these types of deals are the reasons why brick and mortar retailers are the underdogs. However, U2’s album, Songs of Innocence, will make its way to brick and mortar retailers and streaming services on October 14, 2014. U2’s manager, Guy Oseary, said it best in an interview with Billboard, “This is all new territory, but we have four brand-new songs and the deluxe is a killer package. And it’s early days. You can’t look at the standard as one piece of this puzzle; you have to look at whether we reached as many as possible. Are people buying the catalog all of a sudden? And the answer is yes.”
U2 will always be a legendary group and has made their mark in music history, not only for their music, but also for their unprecedented deals, creative marketing, and promotions.
Apple and U2 are currently working on an online music format that is more creative and visually appealing. In this month’s Time Magazine, Bono not only takes the front cover of Time, but he said, “The secret project…a new digital music format in the works that will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music…boosting the music industry and maybe even saving it.”