Opinion: Apple gifts users with a free album

Neville Hardman

Neville Hardman

Apple is gifting users with more than a larger iPhone screen this month. U2’s ‘Songs of Innocence” appeared free exclusively through iTunes on Sept. 9.

“U2 has been an important part of Apple’s history in music and we’re thrilled to make ‘Songs of Innocence’ the largest album release ever,” Eddy Cue announced, according to a press release from Apple.

Free to users does not mean U2 has suddenly turned charitable and is giving out an album for nothing, though. U2 is still looking to make a profit from their new 11-song album and they made a deal with a wealthy company to do it.

“But first you would have to pay for it, because we’re not going in for the free music around here,” Bono joked to Apple CEO Tim Cook during the announcement, but his demands were clear and direct.

Someone had to pay to make “Songs of Innocence” free to more than 500 million people in 119 countries — and Apple doled out big bucks to make it happen. It was released through a Sept. 9 New York Times article that Apple paid U2 and Universal a blanket royalty in order to release the album as well as hatching a marketing campaign that is worth up to $100 million for the band.

So why would Apple agree to do this when they have raging success over their products already? Apple reported that preorders for the iPhone six reached more than four million within 24 hours alone.

In an era where music piracy is at a high, artists are getting cheated in the proportion of people who buy an album versus the people who listen to it through downloads. Apple is an innovator and U2 recognizes it.  Piracy can’t win if an album is already free. U2 still reaps the profits and Apple gets the credit for being a company that might finally stop piracy in its tracks for good.

It only takes five seconds to click a button and begin the download, a process that might be a new way to promote album sales and kill illegal streaming. Apple has set a standard that is worth trying out again.

Take advantage of a free album, or delete the songs if you’re a card-carrying member of the Bono hate party. Either way, the presence of this free album on iTunes from such a distinguished band is something that has never been seen before. The album will be available for the next five weeks to anyone that registers an iTunes account, ending on Oct. 14 when it will begin to be sold in stores.

Contact Neville Hardman at [email protected].