Has U2 lost the plot?

"U2 Gelsenkirchen August 3rd 2009" by SteBo - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“U2 Gelsenkirchen August 3rd 2009” by SteBo – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It was hard not to miss the launch of the new iPhone and the Apple Watch last week. I must confess I do like my iPhone. I was never much of a watch person, I find being reminded of the time all the time… well, let’s just say I am happier without one 🙂 But in the midst of it all Apple made the “thank you” gesture of giving all iPhone owners a new U2 album.

I have nothing against free music, in fact I embrace it. I give away some of my music for free, I often download music from artists who offer it for free, as well as pay for it. U2 seems to be one of those bands that evoke surprisingly strong emotions in opposite directions. It seems to be almost mandatory for a true music fan to hate them at this stage, but at the same time they have a massive following of very dedicated fans. Sure it is easy to bark at someone who has made it big, I mean aren’t they constantly reminding us that we didn’t?

Or if you’re not a musician, just a music fan and you feel they have sold out, well do you feel that that job you are doing is your life calling? Do you feel you are living to the fullest of your potential? Are you telling me the pay check your boss pays you is not a big reason why you get out of the bed in the morning? So let’s get down from that high horse and stop blaming someone else for selling out…

I personally don’t really feel that strongly about them. There were times when I thought they were relevant and there is no denying that over the years they have written some great songs. Every time they release something new, a little part of me hopes it could be little glimpse of that greatness they were touching on years ago. But I just haven’t written anything I could relate to in years. Do I lose sleep over it? No!

But! This new album, which apparently was an album they decided to put on a shelf earlier on the year was delivered to my iPhone music library without me asking for it. It is not actually on the device before you decide to download it, but it does play all right. You can’t actually remove it from your library on your device until after you have downloaded it, you need to go to your iTunes to remove it. I think offering the album for free is a nice idea, but just dumping it into my music library? I would have a problem with that!

One thing I have learned over nearly two decades of DIY promotion is never underestimate music fans. I would never dare to tell anyone what kind of music they should listen to or would like to listen to. And I definitely do not like Apple or U2 trying to do this to me!

OK, Apple has made very desirable products for a long time. Their computers had always been the flagships in the market. They came into the mobile phone market guns blazing and have more than established themselves as one of the most desirable handsets in the market. In many ways, Apple might not be used to people saying no to anything they might be giving away for free. Bit of an oversight on their part, but I could understand this from a punch of tech heads.

But U2 is an altogether different story. They are musicians for the love of all that is good in this universe! Are they so detached from the world that they don’t remember what it was like to be a music fan? What it was like to feel passionate about your favourite bands? And how you loathed some of the other bands? And if anyone dared to tell you what you should like or should not like, you fought your ground like someone was trying to steal your land!

I can only speak for myself, but I do have a gut feeling I am not alone in saying that this stunt has done some damage to U2’s reputation and credibility in my mind, far more than churning out mediocre albums for years to come. The offer of free music would have been greatly appreciated, ramming it down my throat (or sneaking itin to my phone) not so much.

What’s your thoughts on this?


The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download