U2’s Bono has apologised and takes “full responsibility” for adding the band’s Songs of Innocence album onto everyone’s iTunes back in 2014.
An excerpt from the singer’s memoir ‘40 Songs, One Story’ was published through The Guardian over the weekend, with Bono explaining how it all came to be.
The band partnered up with Apple back in the early 2000s to release their own brand of iPod, which was met with great success. Then in 2014, Bono had the idea of gifting their album to Apple iPod users. He recalled talking to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the idea:
“I don’t think we give it away free. I think you [Apple] pay us for it, and then you give it away free, as a gift to people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”
But Apple's Tim Cook explained, "We're not a subscription organisation."
"Not yet. Let ours be the first,” Bono replied, to which Cook added, “There’s something not right about giving your art away for free. And this is just to people who like U2?”
“Well,” Bono replied, “I think we should give it away to everybody. I mean, it’s their choice whether they want to listen to it.”
Bono continued: "If just getting our music to people who like our music was the idea, that was a good idea. But if the idea was getting our music to people who might not have had a remote interest in our music, maybe there might be some pushback. But 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. Not. Quite. True."
"On 9 September 2014,” the singer continued, “we didn’t just put our bottle of milk at the door but in every fridge in every house in town. In some cases we poured it on to the good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk. And others are lactose intolerant."
The singer says he takes “full responsibility” for the idea, and praises Apple for the handling of the situation.
Bono reflected, "For all the custard pies it brought Apple – who swiftly provided a way to delete the album – Tim Cook never blinked. 'You talked us into an experiment,' he said. '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.'"
Unfortunately, the iTunes stunt didn’t do any favours for Songs of Innocence. The album peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 Album chart - with their biggest single ‘The Miracle’ peaking at No. 12.