On September 9th, U2 dropped the infamous news that their new album was coming (in a matter of seconds) to Itunes for free. If this wasn’t a hint that Apple and U2 were working on something together, what followed made it more obvious: the album was automatically injected into Itunes account holders’ libraries. While some gave the album positive reviews, some just wanted the pushy gift off their computer – but almost everyone had the same question: why? At first, according to the announcements, the collaboration heralded the 10-year anniversary of U2’s iPod commercial. But now, it seems to have been some sort of prequel to the new team’s announcement.
U2 and Apple are working on a new digital format of music. The project’s goal is a non-pirate-able, enticing, musical format that will appeal to fans and get them to buy whole albums as well as single tracks. “I think it’s going to get very exciting for the music business,” Bono told Time Magazine, “(It will be) an audiovisual interactive format for music that can’t be pirated and will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way, where you can play with the lyrics and get behind the songs when you’re sitting on the subway with your iPad or on these big flat screens. You can see photography like you’ve never seen it before.” The get-behind-songs bit brings to mind Radiohead’s app, PolyFauna, which turns music into an interactive landscape. But U2 has given no further details on how the format will work, or what it will look like.
Bono also said that the debut of this game-changing thing is about 18 months away – which is about the same amount of time until we’re to expect Songs of Experience, U2’s planned follow-up album. That release will, according to the band, come in the form of this new file format. They’re also planning a world tour, a Songs of Innocence acoustic version, and bonus material for the Experience release. But it’s unclear how well the band’s next efforts will be received. Even after Apple created a site dedicated specifically to helping you remove the album (if you wanted to) from your computer, listeners continued to made it clear that the move was unwanted, or at least too much of a surprise. “It’s like everyone’s vomiting whatever their first impression is,” said bassist Adam Clayton.