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Lead issues video apology for marketing stunt at September Apple launch in which new album was given to 500 million users

by Robert Booth, The Guardian

For a global rock band that has sold more than 150m records worldwide, won 22 Grammy awards and has a frontman whose ego is as big as the stadiums they sell out, U2's explanation for why gave away their latest album to half a billion iTunes users seems unlikely: they were worried that otherwise no one would listen.

The Irish band's lead singer, Bono, has issued a contrite video apology for last month's marketing stunt which angered thousands of users of the music software who found that regardless of their tastes they woke up one day to find U2's album Songs of Innocence had appeared on their phones or iPods. U2 worked with Apple to ensure the album, which received a lukewarm critical reception in some quarters, was given away to an estimated 500 million iTunes account holders as part of the promotional exercise that went along with the launch of the California tech giant's latest phone.

Bono apologised in response to a question from a Facebook user named Harriet Madeline Jobson in a question-and-answer session on the social network site which had been billed as a celebration of the launch of the band's 13th studio album of a 34-year career. She asked: "Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples' playlists ever again? It's really rude."

Iggy Pop criticises U2's free album ploy

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Former Stooges frontman's John Peel lecture also takes aim at free downloaders and music industry executives

by John Plunkett, The Guardian

Iggy Pop has criticised U2 over their controversial tie-up with Apple in the course of a broadside against the record industry that also saw him lambast music executives and people who download songs for free.

The "godfather of punk", delivering the fourth annual John Peel lecture at the Radio Festival in Salford on Monday, said the music industry was now "laughably, maybe, almost entirely pirate" and said electronic devices had "estranged people from their morals, making it easier to steal music than to pay for it".

But he reserved some of his toughest criticism for Irish band U2, who prompted howls of protest when they gave away their latest album as a free download for iTunes users as part of Apple's launch of its new iPhones and Apple watch.

"The people who don't want the free U2 download are trying to say, 'Don't try to force me,' and they've got a point," said Pop at the event, hosted by 6 Music's Lauren Laverne, on Monday night. "Part of the process when you buy something from an artist, it's kind of an anointing, you are giving that person love.

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'Songs of Innocence,' the band's latest release delivered for free, is firmly entrenched with 26 million customers downloading the set in its entirety.

by Shirley Halperin and Andrew Hampp, Billboard

U2 has gone from setting records to breaking them and, with the band's game-changing Apple partnership, simply defying all imaginable expectations.

So how did the album Songs of Innocence fare after being made available to 500 million people around the world as a free download on iTunes? No surprise here, scale pays off.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior VP of internet software and services, tells Billboard that U2's Songs of Innocence has racked up a staggering 26 million complete downloads since its Sept. 9 release as a free download exclusively to Apple's 500 million global iTunes customers. In total, Cue adds, over 81 million Apple customers experienced songs from Innocence, a global figure that includes plays and streams through iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music. "To help put this into perspective," he says, "prior to this, 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since the opening of the iTunes Store in 2003."

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The music heavyweights made headlines for offering their albums as downloads - but is anyone actually listening?

by Myf Warhurst, The Guardian

It has been a big couple of weeks for music lovers. The trouble began with U2 turning up uninvited and gatecrashing the party in our private iTunes collections, gifting us their new album for free.

This little bit of electronic shazammery caused a terrific stir, and after much kerfuffle, iTunes backtracked and released a special program that would take the album away for those disgruntled by the dump. Think of it as a post-party iTunes carpet clean to get rid of any unwelcome stains and odour left by Bono and the lads.

Then, without notice, Radiohead's Thom Yorke dropped a solo album via BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing service usually associated with illegal downloading. What Yorke's gone and done by offering his album for $6 on such a service is a little like selling a legal, official DVD at a market among the illegal movies for sale that are always shakily filmed on some bloke's camera phone. It's an interesting move and one that may help establish a new power player in the cut-throat world of music distribution.

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Drummer admires the Irish band for their 'attempt to reinvent the wheel'

by NME News Desk

Lars Ulrich of Metallica has spoken out in favour of U2's recent decision to distribute their latest album, 'Songs Of Innocence', as an automatic and free iTunes download.

Speaking to Billboard, Ulrich stated that U2's iTunes stunt had inspired him 'immensely' and praised the band for their "attempt to reinvent the wheel".

On the subject of the album's unique release method, Ulrich said: "It's 2014 and anybody who thinks outside the box, or attempts in any way, shape or form, to break the status quo in the world of music, should be applauded. To me, it's not about whether the endeavour is a success or not. It's the fact that they have the balls and the foresight to throw something this radical at us."

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Band makes 'Songs of Innocence' available for purchase right before eligibility cutoff date

by Jason Newman, Rolling Stone

After U2, Interscope Records and Apple made the band's latest album Songs of Innocence available for free to 500 million iTunes customers, a spokesperson for the Grammys said that the group would not be eligible for the next Grammy Awards due to the album being unavailable for purchase before the September 30th cutoff.

With that deadline quickly approaching, U2 have sent a limited number of vinyl copies of Innocence to retailers that will be available to buy on Tuesday's cutoff date, a source close to the situation tells Rolling Stone.

A spokesperson for the Grammys tells Rolling Stone that once the record is available on Tuesday, the band will be eligible for the upcoming 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8th, 2015. "As long as the album, be it CD, vinyl or digital, is available commercially for sale to the public by our eligibility cutoff date at a nationally recognized retailer or website, then it's eligible for consideration," the spokesperson says.

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"I think [the tour] will start small," says the Edge. "We certainly can't get any bigger then the last one."

by Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

In late 2010, U2 began recording a new album with producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton during downtime from their 360° world tour. They had little idea they were kicking off a four-year process, far and away the longest they'd ever spent on a single album. "The experiments and excursions we took with Danger Mouse at the start of the album recording were unashamedly unhinged and free of all critical judgement," says the Edge. via e-mail. "We were happy to suspend disbelief just to see where we could get to. Those early sessions were some of the most productive and fun U2 studio sessions I can remember."

According to Bono, who spoke to Rolling Stone over e-mail, the group ultimately recorded about 100 different songs. "We had great fun getting lost in the creative process," says the U2 frontman. "The thing that propelled us to reach deeper and aim higher was a new appreciation of the craft of songwriting." But he wasn't completely happy with the material produced in the early days. "We realized that some tunes are just better than others, some lyrics just more coherent, some soundscapes just more compelling," he says. "We found ourselves bored with material that just felt good or unique."

The Edge felt the same way. "At a certain point, as the songs were coming into focus, we could see that certain qualities, hallmarks of our work where not represented," he says. "This meant we needed to go off and write some new songs and rework a few that were almost finished."

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Black-and-white image features drummer Larry Mullen Jr. shielding his 18-year-old son

by Ryan Reed, Rolling Stone

U2 have unveiled the intimate cover image for their new LP, Songs of Innocence, which will be released in physical form on October 13th. The black-and-white photo, shot by Glen Luchford, shows drummer Larry Mullen Jr. shielding his 18-year-old son in a protective embrace. The band unveiled the image via their website on Friday morning, with frontman Bono explaining how the cover symbolizes the personal themes of the album.

"We've always been about community in U2, about family and friends," he says. "Songs Of Innocence is the most intimate album we've ever made. With this record, we were looking for the raw, naked and personal, to strip everything back. . . holding on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else's."

Slash defends U2's deal with Apple

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(Slash's comments on U2 begin at 2:13)

Guitar legend Slash has defended U2's controversial decision to team up with Apple and release their new album free to iTunes users.

Nick Bramhill, Irish Independent

The band was criticised by some in the music industry for giving away their LP Songs of Innocence to 500 million Apple iTunes customers.

And negative social media reaction also forced Apple to release a tool to remove the free album from its customers' accounts, with a dedicated webpage providing step-by-step instructions.

But Slash, former lead guitarist with Guns 'N' Roses, insists it was a clever marketing tactic, adding that it was a deal that only a band as big as U2 would have been able to cut.

Bono hits at 'haters' of iTunes album launch

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By Niall Murray, Irish Examiner

U2 lead singer Bono has labelled as "haters" the people who criticised the band online for the way their first album in five years was given away for free.

Songs of Innocence was gifted to an estimated 500m users of Apple's iTunes in a reported $100m (€78m) deal that coincided with the launch of the technology giant's latest devices almost a fortnight ago.

In a world exclusive, pre-recorded interview with RTÉ 2FM's Dave Fanning, the first DJ to play the album in full when it was released earlier this month, Bono said there has been some "real deliberate misunderstanding" of their relationship with Apple.

"This is a company which has, more than any other technological company, sought to get musicians paid," said Bono.

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