U2 has released its new album to iTunes subscribers today like right now, to all 500 million of them. Songs of Innocence is the title. Sign up for iTunes– it’s free– and you can get the album free if you order it by October 13th. The album will not qualify for chart positions or RIAA certifications. And U2 is saying basically Who cares?
Album sales have vanished. The most U2 would sell in its first week, if they were very very lucky, would between 300,000 and 500,000 copies. And that’s being extremely optimistic. It’s not worth the price of printing them up. Just give it away, and make the money through publishing, which the group owns, and concert tours. LiveNation will soon announce a world wide tour that should net the group hundreds of millions of dollars.
It’s brilliant, and no different in concept than giving CDs to ticket buyers, which has been tried with Madonna and Prince. LiveNation has U2 under a 360 contract, they can simply build in the price of the album. Universal Music can collect on vinyl, a small amount of physical CDs, and streaming. My guess though is that “Songs of Innocence” will limited to streaming on iTunes Radio and not available on Spotify and other services.
Hats off to Guy Oseary who continues the tradition of taking U2 into brave new waters, started by Paul McGuinness.