Bono is taking “full responsibility” for U2’s marketing plan gone wrong. Back in September 2014, the band gave every iTunes user their new album Songs of Innocence for free. In their minds, they were gifting music to millions of people, but it did not go over well. Many people were annoyed by the stunt, with frustration rising when those who didn’t want the album couldn’t figure out how to remove it.
The band’s singer addressed the debacle in an excerpt from his upcoming memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (via The Guardian). “You might call it vaunting ambition. Or vaulting. Critics might accuse me of overreach. It is,” Bono wrote before admitting it was a bad plan and one that was totally his idea.
If just getting our music to people who like our music was the idea, that was a good idea. But if the idea was getting our music to people who might not have had a remote interest in our music, maybe there might be some pushback. But what was the worst that could happen? It would be like junk mail. Wouldn’t it? Like taking our bottle of milk and leaving it on the doorstep of every house in the neighbourhood.
Not. Quite. True.
On 9 September 2014, we didn’t just put our bottle of milk at the door but in every fridge in every house in town. In some cases we poured it on to the good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk. And others are lactose intolerant.
At first I thought this was just an internet squall, but quickly realised we’d bumped into a serious discussion about big tech.
I take full responsibility. Not Guy O, not Edge, not Adam, not Larry, not Tim Cook, not Eddy Cue. I’d thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it. Not quite.
As one social media wisecracker put it, “Woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, wearing my dressing gown, reading my paper.” Or, less kind, “The free U2 album is overpriced.” Mea culpa.
Surrender is earmarked to be published on November 1.