People Are Freaking Out over Apple’s Forced iTunes Download of U2’s New Album


While Bono and Tim Cook might be excited about the release of U2’s new album, not everyone is sharing their enthusiasm.

Toward the end of Tuesday’s Apple event, Tim Cook and Bono announced that every iTunes user would be given the band’s new album for free. While that might not sound like a bad thing, many people are angry over the way Apple chose to “gift” us the album.

U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, shows up in iTunes libraries as purchased, whether users have chosen to buy it or not. That’s made a lot of people angry, as it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the album.

Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones since Tuesday. But even if iTunes users hadn’t chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an “iTunes in the Cloud” purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your “iTunes in the Cloud” purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list.


Even then, the U2 album will lurk in your account, hidden until you decide you want it.

You cannot actually disassociate it completely from your account.


Angry iTunes users have pointed to Jay Z’s deal with Samsung as a good example of an album being released in partnership with a technology company. In June last year, anyone with a Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Note II was able to get Jay Z’s new album for free, days before it went on general release. Crucially, customers had to choose to download an app to download the album. This meant that only Samsung customers who were interested in Jay Z’s new album got to download it. By contrast, Apple’s tactic forced the album upon hundreds of millions of people.

With Bloomberg reporting that Apple has more than 800 million iTunes accounts, that’s a whole lot of people who have the album. In comparison, U2’s total album sales to date have been estimated at around 150 million. The band’s last album, No Line on the Horizon, sold 5 million copies.

Tim Cook said on stage at the Apple event, shortly after awkwardly touching fingers with Bono, that U2’s new album had “the largest album release of all time.” But giving away the album for free means that Songs of Innocence won’t be eligible for listing on the Billboard Charts until its physical release Oct. 14.

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