You too would for $100m, yes  you would.

So the general public and music industry are united and up in arms together about U2’s album launch a.k.a. free distribution via iTunes. The album was not free, it cost Apple $100m which then allowed Apple to gift it to its 500 million users.

A couple of points:

  • U2 sold themselves short by accepting $2 per album although I suppose $2 is better than the 13 cent they’ll never see but the price it will be sold on some Russian music site in a few weeks time.
  • Apple’s choosing U2 to both play at the iPhone 6 launch along with gifting their album does nothing for the Apple brand but accentuate their middle-aged, middle class positioning. Everyone says “but hey U2 is the biggest band in the world,” but honestly only everyone over 40 says “but hey U2 is the biggest band in the world.”  I watched a school quiz on TV once and one question asked the two teams of 4 to name the band in which Bono was the lead singer and guess what? Nobody buzzed. So they’re the biggest band in the world to a certain demographic and largely unknown to an even bigger cohort.
  • Then there’s the gripe about the album being preloaded into everyone’s iTunes’ account. We don’t like to be told what to listen to, that was the specific gripe. Well I’m sorry but  I’m afraid that goes with the territory of popular culture. We are mass marketed, segmented, targeted and subliminally conditioned to “like” something that someone else has marketed or manufactured. This has always been the case but doesn’t always work (on me.)  They tried and failed to brainwash me as a teenage girl in the 1980s by packaging the likes of Andrew McCarthy and Kevin Bacon as hot or more recently that Mike Delfino from Desperate Housewives. Eh no, just no. But the marketing and publicity machine packaged them as such and guess what they were idolised. The same way we’ll be persuaded that the winner of this year’s X-factor is actually talented or has a genuine voice. So we’re always told what to like, this time they preloaded it into our account, made a boo boo and later added a remove option. Who knows what the future holds, maybe some day we’ll be served content and ads based on our browsing and online conversations?

Finally we have the musicians giving out saying how it’s so hard, in these digital times, to earn the few shekels that U2’s giving away the album for free (yeah that free $100m) does nothing for the cause against IP theft and yakety yak.

There’s a beach house near me overlooking the sea that was once a hut. It was bought during the boom by some legal eagles – the type who not only have invaded my beloved D6 but then had the gaul to follow me to North Wexford. Anyway, the hut is no more and many a tradesman did prosper and what was once a humble beach hut is now a bastion to the Celtic Tiger – maybe six times its original size with floor to ceiling surround windows set into hardwood and stone that wouldn’t look out of place in the Hamptons or indeed a corporate box in Old Trafford. It cuts a dash in our sleepy hamlet and has been the subject of conversations and consternation from many passersby. As I park my car next door, I’m often stopped by people wanting the skinny on the house with words like eyesore and ostentation and atrocity often thrown about and I agree but usually conclude “but if I had the site and the money, you know I’d probably do exactly the same!”  We always laugh and they always agree.

Is there any musician out there in these digital times that would have turned down Apple’s offer of $100m?

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