September 18, 2014 – 5:04 am

“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.” - Bono

Apple and U2 tried to make history two weeks ago by spamming everyone with an iTunes account with the band’s new album. Hundreds of millions received the album for free, whether they wanted it or not. Here are two considered opinion pieces explaining the meaning of the event.

FROM WIRED.COM: Apple’s Devious U2 Album Giveaway Is Even Worse Than Spam

“In a press release, Apple calls this, correctly, ‘the largest album release ever’. ‘A big moment in music history. And you’re part of it,’… ‘Never before have so many people owned one album, let alone on the day of its release.’

This is all technically true, but… there’s a very simple reason why this is unprecedented, and that is because it doesn’t make any sense… The delivery mechanism amounts to nothing more than spam with forced downloads, and nothing less than a completely indefensible expansion of Apple beyond its operational purview.

Automated downloads are great for the things you actually want to download… But to anoint an otherwise inconsequential cultural artifact as worthy of bandwidth, storage space, and mental overhead on behalf of every single iTunes user is tantamount to Apple picking the music for the devices it sells…

To put this in context, No Line On The Horizon, U2’s previous album, has shipped about 1.1 million copies domestically since its release in 2009, which is as many as Lady Gaga’s Born This Way moved in its first week. Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album ever, has moved 29 million copies domestically to date.

Forcible dissemination of a trinket that statistics suggest is useless to 498 million of the 500 million people who received it is a simple demonstration of privilege: U2 is among the few bands with the grandfathered-in industry connections to get accomplish something so absurd… U2’s decision to promote by spam acknowledges delusions of grandeur in which it makes more sense to manipulate 15 per cent of the world population rather than create art for true fans.” - Vijith Assar

Read the entire essay here.

FROM FORBES.COM: U2-Apple Backlash Is The Latest Evidence Of The MP3’s Demise

“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 album launch is any indication, so are MP3s… Judging by some reactions… 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… Streaming is now the dominant form of consumption for listeners all around the world; other media are increasingly relegated to the realm of inconvenience.

Music consumers are not only letting go of the notion of ownership to which they once clung so closely, they’re openly rejecting it. Just as cassette tapes and CDs take up physical space, MP3s take up valuable real estate in hard drives and cloud storage. And that’s at the core of the backlash to U2’s launch.

…U2 has already indicated that it’s working on a follow-up album, Songs of Experience - for that, Bono and friends might want to think about a streaming-only release.” - Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Read the complete essay here.

So tell us, did you like the new U2 album?

Your no B.S. comments will earn you a pass to free music.


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  1. 24 Responses to “THE MORE B.S. CONTEST No. 5”

  2. I’m sure the million odd U2 fans out there will be overjoyed with this release, but from a personal point of view, this seems a waste of time, I feel that it has been some time since the band have been a relevant force in music and the spamming of this release is a rather tasteless excercise.
    I very much doubt if this will convert anyone who is not already a fan, and , as a bit of feedback from my sprogs, they both found it a bit annoying and deleted it as soon as they could.

    By GMAL on Sep 18, 2014

  3. i dont have itunes. i havent actually heard the album. i did go to youtube the day it was announced that it was posted to itunes to see if anyone has up’d it to youtube as a full dl’able (for me anyway) file. i am still ok with mp3’s and i dont mind the valuable space that they take up on my external drives that i purchased specifically for that need.
    i didnt find the cd and i havent looked for it since. i did look on 2 sites that i tend to look at a lot for things and i didnt find it there either.
    so i still dont have it but.. as for u2.. i am a fan of their pre 89 era material. i didnt like anything from zooropa onward. i didnt like zootv or achtung baby. i most loved unforgettable fire and that tour. i loved joshua tree and all the non lp b sides and 12 inch non album singles that came along with that release. the various shows they did from 85-89 for me were all wonderful. after that point i really lost interest in their material and only a song here and there had my attention. in their live shows since those years the only songs i really appreciated were the old ones which they mostly abandoned.

    By darth on Sep 19, 2014

  4. I don’t have iTunes. Maybe the good people at Bigo would like to post it here!
    I have noticed, on a more serious note, people complaining that it was sent them without having requested it. Can’t understand that. You people are not forced to download it. Just don’t download it.

    By daij on Sep 19, 2014

  5. For those that didn’t get it and want it- Find it here.
    Link in comments.
    For those that didn’t want it but got it anyway- I can understand the frustration. I could care less about U2. Don’t like ‘em but I don’t hate them either. I’d have been pissed to receive something forced on me by today’s popsters so imagine how thrilled the teens were to have this dinosaur music forced on them. I live in the desert and have to use a satellite dish for my internet connection and their is a cap on my usage. Therefore I can’t afford to stream videos or music without going over my monthly allowance. To me this U2 promo should be considered spam. If iTunes wants to find out who is the most popular artist among it’s users it should just offer up one free album download to each of it’s customers and then tally the results. I guarantee it won’t be U2.

    By sking on Sep 20, 2014

  6. If Apple wanted to give it’s users ‘a gift’ why not £10 credit at itunes instead of a specific item? Or let people actually play other formats on their overrated products? They didn’t because this is far from being ‘a gift’, it’s just a slimy business deal between two soulless corporations, U2 and Apple. I wouldn’t touch either’s products with a bargepole! Now, if their free gift was the new Obituary cd, or a big fuck off shotgun to shut that self righteous c#nt Bono up, hmmm, maybe…

    By Shep on Sep 20, 2014

  7. I appreciated receiving the album and will, as with all music, listen to it several times before rendering a final verdict. But upon first listen it is clearly an expansion of U2’s palette, using for example more supporting vocalists. Love ‘em or loath ‘em they’ve come a long way and personally I’ve enjoyed most of their albums, with their middle period being my favorite.

    If Apple somehow forced downloads, that would indeed be spamming and a very bad idea. But that definitely wasn’t the case with me — I went deliberately to the iTunes store and elected to download it. My wife received it as a suggested option on her iTouch, and elected to download it.

    As for the trend of technology, the writers whose articles are posted above may be correct that the world is going towards streaming. But I appreciate having the music in physical form and still buy CDs. Even keeping MP3s on hard drives lets us organize and rate music and relate to it in ways streaming doesn’t (yet) permit. Perhaps if there were an app that allowed users to catalog and rate everything they wanted to keep track of, with links to the source of the music? But that will only be possible when/if computing becomes almost entirely cloud-based.

    It would also require a radically different business model, or no business model at all. So not likely in the near term. And physical possession of the music means no corporation can delete it or limit my access to it.

    Keep the great music coming Big O. I deeply appreciate your efforts.

    By jania on Sep 21, 2014

  8. What is the problem. You get a free album to listen to, and if you don’t like it you can just delete it. Problem solved.:o)

    By Frode Øyen on Sep 22, 2014

  9. I don’t know if I like the new U2 album. I haven’t heard it yet. I don’t own an iPhone or have an iTunes account. The album wasn’t “forced” on me, and I fail to see how it could be. The first reviewer above, Mr. Assar, claims it is a “forced download.” Is that even possible? While I can see Mr. Assar’s point about an unsolicited message being spam, surely there is a choice to download music or not as each individual sees fit. I sure am able to delete any spam I receive. But maybe Apple moves in mysterious ways. The second reviewer above, Mr. Greenburg, appears to drop names like the US military drops bombs. Who TF is Tim Cook? Who TF cares if you can name U2’s manager? If Mr. Greenburg is correct in his statement that streaming is now the dominant form of consumption for listeners, then I would agree that, as he says, refusing the album is more a symptom of the demise of the digital download than an indicator of intense antipathy toward U2. Or maybe it’s a little of both.

    I myself can’t get worked up about U2 one way or the other. They aren’t so bad that I can’t stand to hear them, nor so good that I pay much attention to them. They have been on autopilot since “Joshua Tree,” IMO, and just sound like background music to me. I would love it if they could come up with something as exciting as their “War” album, which I like, but I understand that they can’t go backward, and for a veteran band to release a blockbuster album now would be a rarity. Perhaps the album’s experimental distribution will be viewed as a failure. Or perhaps we live in an age where criticism is equated with bitching, whining, and trolling. There used to be more to it than that, but people aren’t getting any smarter, and that seems to go more than double for people on the internet.

    I notice that neither Mr. Assar nor Mr. Greenburg saw fit to review the music on the new U2 album, choosing instead to join the millions who would rather criticise the album’s distribution method. If U2 wanted to give away its new album as a download and wanted everyone to know about it and have the option to download it for free, how would you suggest they go about it? Dinosaurs like me prefer a physical product, see downloads as a sometimes necessary evil, and couldn’t care less about streaming except as a method of previewing music before purchase. Others eschew using physical storage space for CDs, or using, on their computers or personal devices, memory space for mp3s, and therefore have relegated all their music collection to “the Cloud.” Few people of either predilection are likely to visit U2’s website frequently, if at all. U2 took a stab at getting its album out to the most people, free of charge. There has been a lot of backlash. Is that because U2’s distribution idea failed, or because it is considered hip to hate U2, or because a lot of people just like to whine? No one is forcing anyone to listen to the album.

    By aking on Sep 22, 2014

  10. See you, feel you… Could I have some more please?

    By 905 on Sep 22, 2014

  11. I avoid, wherever and whenever possible, anything to do with Apple.
    Never had iTunes, never will, I think; nor any other software that embodies the thought control philosophy of its creators.
    Wake up, people - you control nothing that exists in the cloud, and if Apple, Google etc had their way you would own Nothing, control Nothing, period.
    So as for U2 (who music I have enjoyed when I could be bothered to listen) - this world-shattering event has not happened for me and will not. Somehow, I simply do not feel in the least deprived…

    By tony on Sep 23, 2014

  12. Hard to understand why so many people are getting so worked up. Sure, it’s been a long time since U2 was cutting-edge, but they’re still a very big and very good band - and if they want to give away their new album, why not? Plenty of bands have given away music as a promotional gimmick.

    By MrBill on Sep 23, 2014

  13. I don’t have or use iTunes. I found the full album in HQ in YouTube and dl it as WAVE files to make myself a CD to play in the car. It is an enjoyable listen, and next to the Beatles/Beach Boys, they are my favorite band. It is not their best, but on a scale of their released work, it is in their top 20%, in regards of MY favorite sounds for them. In terms of originality, it is not that high. As to why do it? It is an enticing treat to get you to come to hear how it sounds in concert, where the real money is made for all artists now. THE TOUR is the thing, the thing is not plastic anymore. After all, rock is dead, according to the painted face of KISS, Gene Simmons. I rather say rock is not dead, it merely has to find it’s audience. U2 is attempting to do that, and the internet is the best way now to achieve that.

    By Job Hunter on Sep 23, 2014

  14. I love free music! That’s why I come to this site.

    By Phil on Sep 24, 2014

  15. Agree with much of the first essay…quite pretentious to send it unsolicited to all those folks. Not sure I agree with the second; I still like to own music, Cds MP3s flacs, etc. Maybe U2 is trying to force the conversation and conversion to the next delivery system of music from artists to consumers?

    By steve22 on Sep 26, 2014

  16. Nice touch to have the music automatically available, but U2 missed some opportunities by not streaming a concert of the songs or using the download to enter some sort of contest. It demonstrates services like Spotify will increasingly become the model for music; for a fee you can enjoy a bigger collection than most of us could own. But too many major performers sit out to make streaming the exclusive choice it someday will be.

    By Tony on Sep 26, 2014

  17. pity they can’t do it with music you might actually want

    By Liam NSW on Sep 26, 2014

  18. ha !

    By Philippe on Sep 27, 2014

  19. In the end: why not?

    By frank on Sep 28, 2014

  20. Never in my life I refused music as a gift, I think there is nothing wrong with it: like it, keep it; don´t like, sell it, give to a friend. About the U2 album, don´t listen to it yet, and I am not in a hurry to do…

    By Belasco on Sep 30, 2014

  21. I had heard they were going to do this, but didn’t realize it would not be our choice, until I found it in my ITunes. I figure I should listen to it before I delete it, but I’ve only made it through two songs and haven’t returned to it. I haven’t cared for any of their albums since “Achtung Baby”, and I don’t see that changing. A very odd, and presumptuous, move on their part.

    By Witchnose on Oct 2, 2014

  22. The album is worth what I paid for it. Zero….

    By john on Oct 4, 2014

  23. If crapple can upload music that you don’t want without your permission what else are the doing behind your back.
    Android doesn’t even upgrade without your permission but then again it’s a better OS.

    By BarrieB on Oct 7, 2014

  24. Artists have rights to do what they please with their works and I applaud what U2 did. I am not so much into their music but I would listen to what they have to offer and, if I don’t like it, there’s a delete key…No harm,,no foul

    By GOLD MINER on Oct 7, 2014

  25. The album itself is OK, the way they went about was pretty heavy-handed. Yes, “presumptuous” is an apt description. Let’s just hope they don’t do it again.

    By tajackson on Oct 8, 2014

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