After giving away U2’s widely unwanted album, Apple have released a tool which removes the tracks from your iTunes, in one angry click. The album, titled ‘Songs of Innocence’ (ahh the irony) automatically downloaded itself onto devices, which a lot of people were not very happy about (“I don’t even know what/who a U2 is” …). U2, however, are probably pretty upbeat – it has been described as “the largest album launch ever” with reports suggesting the publicity the stunt generated might be worth as much as $100m (£62m).
The response has been interesting, as something Apple considered to be a #gift was received with such insult and animosity. Apple, more than any other brand, has taught us we are defined by our music playlist. This move goes in direct contrast with this, as they impose some Soccer Mom Rock onto a Lana Del Ray generation.
It also calls into question issues around the control of ownership, and whether you actually own what’s on your device. As we witnessed in last week’s cloud hacking scandal, people don’t realise how easily accessible their data libraries are – either to steal from, or to add to. In the impending future of connected devices and the internet of things, will this behaviour infiltrate into other areas of our lives? We’re waiting to come home to our connected fridge, to find it filled with cheese – a ‘gift’ from some overzealous marketing campaign – even though we’re lactose intolerant.
Saying this, we here at MB HQ did enjoy U2’s smartly crafted response to the backlash; “People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library. And 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.” With a follow-up tour planned, let’s hope it’s ticketed and in venues, rather than a one billion date world wide tour of workplaces.