U2’s deal with Apple, and why some people went Bananas

I’m sure everyone has stumbled across some negativity towards the recent release of Songs Of Innocence for free on iTunes. This is my interpretation of what happened.

So U2 and Apple made a deal.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 18.08.36Apple will pay U2 a lump sum of money (reportedly $100m), in order to buy the rights to give Songs Of Innocence away for free to all iTunes users, making this the biggest record release in the history of music.

U2 gets the benefit of their newest album reaching 500 million homes within hours. Apple gets the benefit of the iPhone/Watch promotions tied in with U2, as well as boosting sales on U2’s back catalog from within iTunes, which is already happening, 17 digital U2 albums (not necessarily records) are back iTunes top 100 sales.

That, was the deal.

What was not part of the deal, or was not made clear enough, was how Apple planned to roll out the new album to all users. And that’s where The Troubles start.

Apple could have rolled this out one of two ways: either push the release to users as an option, and let them download the album if they chose to do so, or push the release without asking, which they did.

Both methods have very specific pros and cons:
Pushing the release as an option, and waiting for users to go and download the songs manually would have introduced a huge delay in the release, that would not have served the purpose of the deal and the marketing line, that was all about getting the album to every person on the planet for free within seconds.

So the second method made more sense, just push the release automatically to all iTunes users, and let them delete it themselves if they don’t want it. Simple as that. Except for two big problems:

Apple’s target group is people who want products and services that “just work”.
This, is a fact. What this means is that the majority of users will not necessarily have a great technical knowledge of how their devices and/or services actually work, and they shouldn’t have to.
That being the case, it is not as easy for a casual user to understand what a release push is, and more importantly, how to get rid of one. To a lot of people, that would seem like invasion of their privacy.

Now, take all of the above in mind, and add the recent scandal of the iCloud being hacked, and all of that very private data from various people being leaked.
And then, right after that, you wake up to see “someone” just accessed your Music, and added an album in there. Wouldn’t you be worried? And scared? Especially when you’re dealing with something you do not completely understand?

Some people did protest about this new released being “force-fed” to them by Apple. Some of them had their valid arguments, as described above.

Some of them, did not. There was this minority of attention seekers who decided to take advantage of the situation, and rage either because they don’t like Apple that much, or because they don’t like Bono that much. But nobody cares about them, anyway.

So to wrap this up, do I think U2 did a bad move with this deal? Absolutely not.

U2 just wanted every person on the planet to have access to their latest work.

Do I think Apple didn’t handle this as best as they could have? Yes and No.

Apple made a brilliant, groundbreaking deal. But they could have taken their target audience in consideration a bit more along the way. Perhaps that email they sent the following day, explaining what had happened should have arrived a lot sooner, before people with not enough data started making their own assumptions.

What do you guys think?

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