By now everyone is familiar with the blowback received from the ill-fated U2 album giveaway on iTunes. Apple and the band thought that giving a free album to all iTunes users would be heralded as a huge win, only to find that many of them objected to the album being forced on them, even when it’s by a legendary superstar group like U2. Let’s analyze what’s going on here.
1. People want pull, not push. By and large users of any platform hate to have info pushed to them. Yes, there are exceptions like email and text notifications, but by and large, we hate being shouted at, even if it’s being done electronically. A better strategy in this situation might have been to say, “Here’s the new U2 album. Take it if you want it.” While that wouldn’t have amounted to the same ability to say that it was the biggest album release of all time, it would have alleviated the feeling that people were getting an unwanted musical virus planted on their phone or computer.
2. Downloads are over. When the entire world (except Japan, which is still stuck in the CD world thanks to oppressive laws) is turning to streaming music wholeheartedly, why would Apple hold on to this vestige of the past by thinking that anyone wanted to download an album’s worth of files? Oh, that’s right, the company has this vested interest in downloads by virtue of the fact that the music side of iTunes is still a huge business that features a billion downloads a year. The fact of the matter though is that the company and band could have looked a lot hipper by providing a free 90 day Beats Music account that included a proprietary playlist of the album along, and used the iTunes downloads as a secondary offering.
3. The band isn’t as cool anymore. Let’s face it, they’re all in their 50s, and while they’ve done an admirable job staying relevant far beyond the life span of most artists, to a great number of younger people it’s just, “Who is U2 and why are they sending me their spam music files?” The fact that the song that’s featured in the ad (“The Miracle of Joey Ramone”) is about another dinosaur rocker (although well-deserving) doesn’t help the cause either. Read more on Forbes.
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