Unless you are totally off the grid you’ve probably heard about Apple’s announcement regarding the latest piece of technology that they are releasing in the coming months and that you are supposed to buy. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be released soon, AND the latest in wearable technology, the Apple Watch will also be here next year. Two fantastic opportunities to further sever true human interaction (kind of a cynical statement but think about it).
Now, I’m not one of those blowhard Apple haters who shares hilarious memes on Facebook about Apple finally catching up to Samsung. I don’t care about that. I’ve been an iPhone user since the first one hit the shelves back in ‘07, but like probably a lot of other people, I JUST got an iPhone 5S recently, and low and behold, my technology is now outdated. But, I don’t really care about that part either. I’m here to talk about another part of that announcement- the release of a piece of music that coincided with the announcement of these new Apple products. I guess you could say, the release of a product to help announce the release of another product. I’m talking about that U2 album.
A bajillion dollar company teamed up with a bajillion dollar mega-star band sharing their music in order to make that bajillion dollar company seem hip and cool. U2 shocked the world by releasing their album via cloud technology to iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Beats users for, get this, FREE. Everyday internet users around the world scour the web for opportunities to get free music. In an unparalleled, totally original move, U2 gave their album away for free to Apple, a company that other artists and bands have been struggling with regarding receiving the money they deserve for their album sales. Then, Apple turned around and gave U2’s album to all of their customers for free. That’s only part of it though. Music is a form of art and artistic expression. Art can be sold or can be given away, and it’s up to the recipient to truly determine the worth and value of the art, we all know that. But, I have questions about the integrity and authenticity of this band, and whether they are still attempting to create art or are they just attempting to grow their brand and popularity by churning out product after product? It’s hard to figure that part out since they are already one of the most popular bands of all time. So my question is, why do this? What’s the gain?
For the past few days, I’ve been pondering if this move was ludicrous and slightly offensive to real music lovers or totally brilliant. I’m leaning towards the former part of that statement because I don’t think it’s cool to force your art, music, or even opinions on other people, particularly in such a creepy, Big Brother way, and I am not alone. The social media universe exploded with anger and frustration about U2 secretly sliding their piece of music into 500 million people’s iPhones, causing Apple to create a website with instructions on how to delete the album from your library. Here’s what I’m saying, people actually don’t want a FREE piece of music when forced on them.
Is U2 a bad band? I’m not a huge fan, but I don’t think so. Also, please forgive this statement but, like everyone with ears, I really dig their older stuff much more. Did I even listen to this album? Nope. This isn’t an album review, it’s a conversation-starting blog post. Did U2 need to do this? No, they did not. Did Apple need to do this? No, THEY did not.
But, like Bono put it in a recent quote to the media, “The blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail” and you got this music anyway. Too many times bands and artists partner with major corporations in giant marketing campaigns to force their music on people instead of letting us make up our own minds. Jay Z did it last year with Samsung, and now U2 has done it. Now, I don’t have any problem with bands making money and gaining exposure through commercial licensing. Honestly, if you talk to any up and coming band, they will tell you licensing is one of the very few ways to make money as a struggling musician these days because companies like Apple don’t want to pay fair amounts to bands and artists. But, when you’ve forced your music onto the masses the music becomes, not a piece of creative artwork, it becomes a product. And I don’t know about you, but free or not, I ain’t buyin’ it.