Apple paid Irish veteran U2 an undisclosed lump sum for the privilege of giving away the band's new album, Songs of Innocence. U2 and its frontman, Bono, joined Apple CEO Tim Cook on stage during the "Wish We Could Tell You More" media event on Tuesday, where they announced that iTunes account holders can get the album for free.
U2 - Songs of Innocence
The two touted the deal as a 500 million download giveaway, but what wasn't discussed were the terms. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is paying a lump sum for the right to give away the album, and in return Apple gets to use music from the album in a promotional campaign that will benefit iPhone, iTunes, Apple, U2, and Universal.
That promotional campaign includes at least one performance video for "Miracle," the song the band played during the media event, that was shot in the style of the original iPod commercials.
As The Journal's John Jurgensen put it, it's, "the kind of massive promotional blitz that few if any record companies today could afford."
This is not the first time U2 and Bono have worked with Apple. Jony Ive, Apple's designer-in-chief, and Marc Newson, a top designer who recently joined Apple, collaborated on one-of-a-kind versions of Apple gear to benefit Bono's Project (RED). In 2004, U2 worked with Apple on a U2-branded iPod that included How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb out of the box.
As the music industry shrinks and legacy business models fall to the wayside, working with Apple for an iTunes exclusive is becoming one of the few ways that big-name artists can collect big-time paychecks for recorded music.
From Beyoncé's iTunes-exclusive release of her last album, to Justin Timberlake (and others) offering first-listens through iTunes Radio, to U2's deal for Songs of Innocence, Apple is the one music company with the money, the will, the ability, and the customers to shed out big bucks.