Open up iTunes (if you’re not a streamer already at this point), click on your “Purchased” folder, and what do you have? Songs of Innocence, A brand-spankin’-new U2 album, just waiting to be listened to! That’s right, U2 and Apple have joined forces to deliver you a U2 album. Essentially, Apple has paid U2 to release their album for free by dropping it into every single iTunes user’s library.
Whether you can hardly suppress your excitement, or if none exists (in this blogger’s case), you have to admit that it’s a pretty great idea in terms of marketing; giving iTunes the jump on streaming services that won’t have the album until mid-October, as well as giving U2 a chance to spam 500 million iTunes users in the hopes of gaining a larger audience than their already very large one.
But does that make it right? Several online philosophers have opined on sites such as Vulture and our very own Washington Post that this move is a bit unsettling and creepy. It’s a move that plainly shows that the line between popular music and business is all but gone. Also, according to these authors, the music itself is pretty bland and unexciting, a by-the-numbers U2 album without any value to make it stand out as a worthy vessel for Apple’s patronage. Thus it seems that the entire purpose of this album was not to be an album but rather to be a marketing device, for U2 and for Apple, and while it was indeed a shrewd move for both parties’ marketing, it ultimately seems as if it were just that.
The fact that Apple allowed this album to become a part of everybody’s iTunes library without anybody’s permission also feels a bit weird. I have no intention of listening to this album, and had they released it in a typical way, I would have been able to simply ignore it without having to remove it from my own hard drive.
I can only hope that this does not lead to some kind of future in which every few days a new, mediocre release from some popular artist needs to be deleted from my library to keep my disc space free for music I actually want to listen to. If so, I might just have to switch to streaming.