U2 gives new album away for free on iTunes as part of Apple Watch promotion

Songs of Innocence U2


If you’re a U2 fan, you’re in luck: the band is giving away its new album, Songs of Innocence, for free.

As part of a promotional tie-in with Apple’s new Apple Watch and iPhone 6, both of which were debuted yesterday, the company has arranged for the new U2 album to simply appear in the iTunes accounts of over 500 million subscribers in 119 countries.

Of course, the music is only free for the listeners. Apply had to pony up big: According to the New York Times, the company paid U2 an unspecified royalty for the rights to distribute the music.

Apple also committed to a $100 million worldwide marketing plan for the band.


Cannes Lions Festival 2014


Lead singer Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook bantered about the exchange after U2 had performed at the Apple Watch unveiling, but before the Songs of Innocence announcement had been made.

Bono lamented that the album wasn’t yet out, and said it could be released “in five seconds” through iTunes.

Cook said that that would be possible, but only if the band decided to give the album away.

Bono’s response? “First you would have to pay for it, because we’re not going in for the free music around here.”


 BlakeSongs of Innocence and Experience, the 1789 book of poems by William Blake. Not the U2 album.



How is the album itself? Early reviews call it everything from glowing to mediocre, which is pretty much the norm for U2 albums in the past twenty or so years.

But this is, in a certain sense, an album of the people. It’s yours, if you’ve got an iTunes account: it’s just sitting there, waiting for your ears. What do you think of it? Is the album a return to U2’s glory days?

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