In an unprecedented marketing machination, Apple has just forcefully distributed U2’s new album “Songs of Innocence”to all iPhone owners – up to 500 million of them. Take a second to check your phone… it’s there right now.
The partnership, reportedly worth $100 million, has been called anything from ‘shrewd’ and ‘dystopian junk mail’. I fall into the camp of those who are disturbed by the #CreepyViolationOfTrust and the dangerous precedent it sets.
Wasn’t the Digital Age Supposed to be About Choice?
There are so many truly talented independent artists the world should hear – some of whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends. Many struggle to eke out a living, to raise a family, or even to keep a roof over their heads. The music industry is cluttered with such noise that these truly talented artists strain to be heard above the din of what a few power brokers choose for us.
Maybe U2 and Apple remember what that was like as an upstart band in Dublin, or a startup business in Los Altos?
The digital age gave us the ability to choose where we tune our ears and where we spend our dollars. I choose for mine go to artists and companies I most trust and admire.
But did it just get harder to vote with our wallets if a company can simply force a product on you?
Embrace Your Cult Following
I’m an active advocate for the artists I follow, helping them to build an audience by introducing their music to friends, volunteering for a non-profit acoustic concert series, and even hosting private concerts in my home.
And I’ve been an Apple guy for a while now; a proud member of the Cult of Jobs. Here’s my Halloween display from a couple years ago. There’s no way I’d ever have considered buying a Samsung anything or an Android-based device. Until now…
But Don’t Squander it with a Breach of Trust
With this forced distribution deal, Apple and U2 have broken the bond of trust between artist and audience, between company and customer. They have invaded our personal electronic devices without our invitation, without our knowledge, and without our consent.
Sure they’ll point to some innocuous click we made to the Terms and Conditions when we downloaded one of those seemingly weekly iTunes updates. And they’ll say we don’t have to listen to the album so graciously provided. But come on…
Forcing customers to take steps to hide an album they didn’t want in the first place is a surefire way squander that relationship.
Businesses everywhere should take note. If you break the bond of trust, the Rattle and Hum you hear will be the sound of even your most loyal customers and fans heading for the door.
U2: Enjoy your $100 mil. For some reason I doubt this will translate into affordable ticket prices for your next tour…
Apple: I’ll be upgrading the family’s phones soon – three of ‘em. Better hope for your sake you clean up this mess before then.
A simple apology will do. #GetU2OffMyiPhone