One more thing: gift from iTunes and U2 stirs controversy

Art courtesy of iTunes

Art courtesy of iTunes

Casey Brown
A&E Editor

U2’s latest album “Songs of Innocence” dropped on Sept. 9, and over 500 million people got it for free.
Apple released the album to its iTunes subscribers by automatically making it available to anyone with an account.
According to Apple’s website, the release is, “A big moment in music history. And you’re part of it.”
Not everyone sees it that way, though.

The biggest complaint from users is that the move is an invasion of privacy.
Furthermore, not all 500 million active iTunes subscribers were even aware that the album had been placed in their libraries.
“The Independent” is calling the release a “PR disaster.”

In response to the wave of complaints, Apple created a help page that shows users how to delete the album.
U2 is along for the ride. On the day of the release, they wrote a letter to their fans and the world: “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. Country fans, hip hop aficionados from east LA, electro poppers from Seoul, Bhangra fans from New Delhi, Highlifers in Accra… might JUST be tempted to check us out, even for a moment. What a mind blowing, head scratching, 21st century situation.”

It is indeed a “head scratching, 21st century situation,” but the part that has many people scratching their heads is the privacy concerns. New people will be exposed to their music, but other people may be turned off from it forever.

Much of the ink being spilled on this story is negative. Few people are raving about the album, the forced download or the responses from Apple and U2.

The backlash from this event is overshadowing the quality of the music on the album. In fact, the press coverage essentially skipped reviewing the album and went to announcing that a vinyl of “Songs of Innocence” had been released, thereby making it Grammy eligible.

Instead of talking about the art, many people are instead complaining about the invasion of privacy.
Apple and U2 are still emphasizing the innovation.

“Never before have so many people owned one album, let alone on the day of its release,” according to Apple’s website. “At Apple, music has always been a big part of who we are, what we do. This is the biggest album release in music history and one more way we’re moving music forward.”

U2 front man, Bono, said, “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.”

U2’s manager, Guy Oseary, said, “It’s a gift from Apple. If someone doesn’t like the gift, they should delete it.”
Apple has yet to respond to the invasion of privacy complaints.

So, Apple continues to push the envelope, but what will the cost and repercussions for such a stunt be?
iTunes users are asking what else Apple has the ability to do. Other people are asking where the privacy line is drawn in the eyes of large companies like Apple, Facebook and Comcast?

Sure, the move is the largest album release in the history of music, but does it count if not everyone willingly sought the album to begin with? Are iTunes subscribers supposed to excuse the breech in privacy because of the substantial fame of U2? What else will be downloaded onto clouds, phones and mp3 players in the future now that Apple has opened this door?


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