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Is U2’s deal with Apple the future of record releases for big-named artists?


It took U2 five years to deliver a follow up to 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, but due to their deal with Apple Songs of Innocence was downloaded an impressive 26 million times.

Measured against album sales of other artists 26 million is phenomenal, with Beyonce’s very popular self-titled 2013 record only managing 3,366,000 sales worldwide. However, it is impossible to compare like-with-like with regards to Songs of Innocence, because no-one knows how many times people would have bought the album if it wasn;t delivered to their iPhone or iPad for free by Apple.

In terms of money for the band, there is no doubting the success of Songs of Innocence, with Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. reportedly walking away with a cool $100 million (£62 million). Official terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed, but if the rumours are true, then U2 may have made more from giving away Songs of Innocence for free than most of their other studio albums combined.

However, the band were also on the receiving end of a major backlash from music fans after Apple inexplicably made the record difficult to delete from iPhones, iPad, and iPods. This was rectified after a week with the launch of the SOI removal tool. However, the brief issue caused enough of a scandal, that Bono finally gave in and apologised for the bands “megalomania” in getting there album out to as many people as possible.

While U2 may not have found many new fans with the free release of Songs of Innocence, their loyal fanbase are still choosing to buy U2 tickets in droves, selling out arenas throughout South America, the US, and Canada on their ongoing 360 tour.

The record industry remains in flux, and deals such as the Songs of Innocence release are a sign that both technology companies, record labels, and bands are all willing to try new options to generate income from their art. More people have definitely heard U2’s latest record than any other album in its first week of release, and that in itself can only be a good thing.

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