The Aftermath of U2’s Ubiquitous Album Drop

The Aftermath of U2’s Ubiquitous Album DropCourtesy of

If you haven’t heard about U2’s new album, perhaps you’ve noticed it quietly sitting in your iTunes library. And if you don’t remember buying Songs of Innocence, you’re not the only one. U2 pulled a surprise move when it dropped the album into 500 million iTunes subscribers libraries across 119 countries on Tuesday. On one hand, free music. On the other, isn’t it a bit invasive to thrust your album into someone’s personal library? Since the album’s ubiquitous release, many have called out the drop as an  off-the-mark, trying-to-hard, marketing ploy.

The album drop is a favor from U2’s friends at Apple, a “celebration” of the  ten year anniversary of U2’s iPod commercial. Bono says Apple bought it as a gift to give all of their music customers. He goes on to explain “People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library,” he writes. “And for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way… the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail.”

Still, receiving this unpurchased ‘gift’ album feels a little bit like receiving an unsolicited junk e-mail, or having a street performer shove an album into your hand without asking. Granted, either source could be a talented performer, but such efforts usually result in a hasty ‘archive’ of the message. So far U2 has garnered criticism from publications like The New Yorker and Pitchfork, and countless other music media sources for the album drop. Even Tyler the Creator took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the album release, comparing the unsolicited download to “waking up with a pimple or like a herpes.” He later backtracked, saying “its kinda sick that they are on peoples phone out of nowhere,” and finally concluded that “Bono is f–kin awesome.” Much like Tyler, we can see both the creepiness and awesomeness of the U2-Apple scheme. Still, U2 has already proven themselves as worldwide rock stars. Is it really necessary remove the simple step of opening up iTunes and clicking download? As a publicity tactic, it’s successful, but in the long run, it’s not a good look for the band.