A bit from Bono’s new memoir reveals the 2014 free promotion of Songs of Innocence on iTunes was his fault. “I take full responsibility,” the U2 frontman says.
The Guardian has an exclusive excerpt of the singer’s memoir, where he talks about his influences growing up and some of the ideas he’s had over the years. Without delving too deep into the history of U2, one of the more interesting anecdotes from the excerpt comes with Bono talking about the 2014 iTunes promotion for Songs of Innocence. The album was added to every iTunes account in 2014–to significant backlash.
“What was the worst that could happen? It would be like junk mail. Wouldn’t it? Like taking our bottle of milk and leaving it on the doorstep of every house in the neighborhood,” the singer writes. But the promotion ended up causing more backlash than Bono intended.
“I take full responsibility. Not Guy O, not Edge, not Adam, not Larry, not Tim Cook, not Eddy Cue. I’d thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it,” Bono says of the free U2 album.
“Not quite. As one social media wisecracker put it, ‘woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, wearing my dressing gown, reading my paper,’ or the less kind ‘the free U2 album is overpriced.’ Mea culpa.”
Bono says at first, he thought all the hubbub online about the free Songs of Innocence album would blow over. “We quite quickly realized we’d bumped into a serious discussion about the access of big tech in our lives. The part of me that will always be punk rock thought this is exactly what the Clash would do. Subversive. But subversive is hard to claim when you’re working with a company that’s about the be the biggest on Earth,” he continues.
Bono says Tim Cook stayed incredibly humble through the experiment–even when Apple eventually gave users a way to delete the album. “We ran with it, it may not have worked, but we have to experiment, because the music business in its present form is not working for everyone,” Bono says Cook told him.