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The four members of the legendary Irish band tell TIME about another new album in the works--and its secret Apple project that might just save the music industry

Catherine Mayer/Cupertino and Malibu, Time Magazine

Many, many people really, really like U2. It hasn't always been easy to remember that fact amid the caustic--and often hilarious--responses to the band's Sept. 9 release of Songs of Innocence. U2's decision to team up with Apple to deliver the new album to every iTunes subscriber, unasked, raised valid questions about consumer choice and personal space in a world that routinely infringes on both. Moreover, while Apple paid U2 for the album, critics of the deal suggest this point may have been lost on iTunes customers who got it for free. If so, that messaging is certainly at odds with U2's intentions.

As an article in the new issue of TIME reveals, Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr believe so strongly that artists should be compensated for their work that they have embarked on a secret project with Apple to try to make that happen, no easy task when free-to-access music is everywhere (no) thanks to piracy and legitimate websites such as YouTube. Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music--whole albums as well as individual tracks. The point isn't just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can't make money, as U2 does, from live performance. "Songwriters aren't touring people," says Bono. "Cole Porter wouldn't have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn't coming to a stadium near you."

The Church of U2

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Photograph by Clemens Rikken/Hollandse-Hoogte/Redux

by Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker

A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or "hymnody," as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn--the modern successor to "Morning Has Broken" or "Amazing Grace"? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: "If you're willing to construe the term 'hymn' liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' by U2."

Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they're a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called "Yahweh," and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2's Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band's music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that's unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2's religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band's identity. To some people, Bono's lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they're thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.

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U2 and Apple: The latest announcement has more to do with medium than music.

by Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff

If for some reason you've still got a collection of cassette tapes, you'll probably find it very difficult to sell, trade, or even give them away. Compact discs are rapidly approaching a similar status. And, if U2′s Apple (AAPL -0.73%) album launch is any indication, so are MP3s.

Last week the band distributed free copies of its latest album, Songs of Innocence, to over half a billion iTunes customers as part of a deal with Apple valued as high as $100 million. Judging by some reactions, however, you'd think Tim Cook's company was offloading bedbug-ridden mattresses instead of new music by one of the most successful bands of our age.

"It's a gift from Apple," said U2 manager Guy Oseary. "If someone doesn't like the gift, they should delete it."

It's fascinating that anybody had to make such an announcement-and, in this writer's opinion, it's much more a symptom of the demise of the digital download than it is an indicator of intense antipathy toward U2.

U2 Destroy 30 Years Of Legacy In One PR Stunt

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U2's album spam PR stunt has destroyed decades of legacy quicker than hitting a delete button. In fact, many millions of Apple customers were looking for their delete button as soon as they were spammed with a product they did not opt-n for.

by Paul Cashmere

Angry Apple customers were loud and fast on social media to complain about the digital violation after hundreds of millions downloads were shoved onto people's devices without permission.

What both Apple and U2 failed to understand is that not everyone is a U2 fan, especially not now. The band's reputation went immediately to tatters but their bank balance is looking good.

Depending on various sources, including the Wall Street Journal, U2 is estimated to have done a $100 million deal with Apple to give their album away "for free". The figure was not disputed by U2 manager Guy Oseary.

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U2's new manager Guy Oseary and Bono

By Andrew Hampp, Billboard

It has been a whirlwind nine months for Guy Oseary since he took the reins of U2's management after longtime manager Paul McGuinness announced his retirement last fall. That includes a Golden Globe, an Oscar nomination, a big Super Bowl campaign and the premiere of The Tonight Show in support of two songs that ultimately didn't make the final cut on Songs of Innocence, the history-making album that debuted to 500 million iTunes customers on Sept. 9.

With lead single "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" set to be featured in a massive media campaign from Apple, valued at $100 million by multiple sources, U2 has already scored arguably the biggest launch in music history. And it's one that's already fraught with a little controversy, from angry retailers to Grammy and SoundScan guidelines. Oseary, 41, rang Billboard on Sept. 11 to address the many questions about the launch, and what's next (another album?) from this landmark deal with Apple.

Watch U2's performance at the Apple event in HD

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If you missed U2's epic performance at the Apple Press Conference on Tuesday, you can watch the whole 2 hour event right here (or if you just want to see U2, skip to 1:44 in the video). Watch it here in glorious high definition:

What U2's Apple Album Launch Means For U2

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by Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff

Yesterday, I wrote about Apple (AAPL +0.43%) and U2′s decision to team up for the launch of Songs of Innocence and what it means for Apple. As promised, today I'll explore the other side: what it means for U2.

For the Irish rockers, there's little left to accomplish. Already hailed as one of the top pop-rock acts of all-time, U2′s financial success has matched its outsized popularity. The group has sold tens of millions of records, and its last tour grossed $736 million, the highest total in history.

That sort of success has given the band an immense platform for its philanthropic agenda and often placed its members in the most esteemed company-witness Bono serenading Warren Buffett with a customized ode.

What Apple's U2 Album Launch Means For Apple

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Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff

Love Apple or hate it, there's no denying it's a unique company. Additional proof came at yesterday's product launch event in Cupertino, where Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and a new smart watch-and managed to secure U2 as a featured act.

The Irish rockers debuted their a new single, "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)" at the end of the proceedings, part of a deal to release their new album, Songs of Innocence, for free to all iTunes customers. The LP will also be available for Beats Music subscribers, too; after October 14th, it will appear on other streaming services as well as bricks-and-mortar stores.

'Remember Us?'

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A letter from Bono, on the arrival 'of our new baby' - Songs of Innocence.

by U2.com

'Hello, bonjour, ciao, hola, hallo, zdravo, dobar dan, Dia duit, hæ, hej,hei, cześć, olá, ćao, namaste, sawatdee, jambo, pozdravi, Γεια σου, привіт, שלום, مرحبا, こんにちは, , سلام, 你好, Привет....

Remember us? Pleased to announce myself, Edge, Adam and Larry have finally given birth to our new baby... Songs of Innocence. It's been a while. We wanted to get it right for you/us. We just finished it last week and thanks to Apple and iTunes it's with you today. That's already amazing to me as it normally takes a few months to turn this stuff around.

Part of the DNA of this band has always been the desire to get our music to as many people as possible. In the next 24 hours, over a half a billion people are going to have Songs of Innocence... should they choose to check it out. That is so exciting. People who haven't heard our music, or weren't remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we're in their library. Country fans, hip hop afficionados from east LA, electro poppers from Seoul, Bhangra fans from New Delhi, Highlifers in Accra... might JUST be tempted to check us out, even for a moment. What a mind blowing, head scratching, 21st century situation. Over 500 million people... that's a billion ears. And for the people out there who have no interest in checking us out, look at it this way... the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail.

For U2 and Apple, a Shrewd Marketing Partnership

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By Ben Sisario, New York Times

U2 may be giving a new album away, but it is still getting paid.

As part of what Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, called "the largest album release of all time," the company released U2's new "Songs of Innocence" free through iTunes on Tuesday, just after the band performed a new song, "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)," at the close of Apple's product announcement event in Cupertino, Calif.

For what Apple said were up to 500 million customers in 119 countries, "Songs of Innocence" simply appeared in their iTunes accounts on Tuesday afternoon. But the deal that led to that release was carefully negotiated between U2 and some of the most powerful entities in music, including Apple; Universal, the band's label; and Guy Oseary, U2's new manager. Mr. Oseary works in the management division of Live Nation Entertainment, the global concert conglomerate.

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