In 2014, the Irish singer of U2, the classic Bono, had an idea to promote his album The Songs of Innocence: partner with Apple to release their songs for free on the iTunes of the iPhone.
Several years later, in 2022, the leader of the popular band has just ask for forgiveness thus.
It was Bono who influenced the tech giant to put an unwanted album on his phone. As can be read in an excerpt that appeared last weekend in Guardian of his next memoirs Surrender: 40 Songs, One StoryBono remembers pitching the idea to Apple CEO Time Cook:
Free music?” I ask Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, with a look of mild disbelief. “Are you talking about free music?
Do you want to give away this music for free? But the whole point of what we’re trying to do at Apple is not to give away free music. The point is to make sure the musicians get paid.
“No,” I said, “I don’t think we give it away for free. I think you pay us for it and then you give it away for free, as a gift to people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
“Tim Cook raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean we pay for the album and then we just distribute it?
I said, “Yeah, like when Netflix buys the movie and gives it away to subscribers.”
Tim looked at me like he was explaining the alphabet to an English teacher. “But we are not a subscription medium.”
“Not yet,” I said. “May ours be the first.”
“Now I take full responsibility. I thought that if we could make our music available to people, they might choose to approach it. Not at all. As one social media prankster put it, ‘I woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, in his robe, reading the paper. Or, less politely, ‘U2’s free album is too expensive.’ Mea culpa.
But the idea was a complete failure. User outrage became so great that Apple even had to create a specific tool to remove U2’s free album.
We realized that we had run into a serious discussion about the access of big technology to our lives. The part of me that will always be punk rock thought this was exactly what the Clash would do. Subversive. But subversive is hard to claim when you’re working with a company that’s about to be the biggest in the world.