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U2's free album cost Apple $100 million

U2's free album cost Apple $100 million

September 12, 2014

Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook ended the iPhone 6/Apple Watch event by announcing that anyone with an iTunes account would receive a free copy of U2’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence.” That promotion cost Apple upwards of $100 million, according to The New York Times.

According to the report:

To release U2’s album free, Apple paid the band and Universal an unspecified fee as a blanket royalty and committed to a marketing campaign for the band worth up to $100 million, according to several people briefed on the deal. That marketing will include a global television campaign, the first piece of which was a commercial that was shown during the event.

Calling the move “the largest album release of all time,” Cook explained “This is a gift from Apple to their customers.”

Not everyone was thrilled that Apple gave away 500 million copies of “Songs of Innocence.” Some took to Twitter, noting “Who is U2?” Other complained that the album took up valuable space on their mobile devices.

As Bloomberg explained, “Depending on a user’s settings, ‘Songs of Innocence’ could automatically download to some Apple devices, taking up valuable space. For others, the album just appeared as available for download among a list of other records users had bought through iTunes.”

Personally, I was happy to receive the free album. Still, placing it in our iTunes library automatically probably wasn’t the best move on Apple’s part.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg


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