U2’s new album has been downloaded by a reported 26 million people, elevating it as one of the most popular albums of all time.
It has been one month since Apple announced that Songs of Innocence would get its initial release as a free offering for its 500 million iTunes customers. Since then, according to Billboard, about 5% of the total audience have taken advantage of the offer, downloading all 11 tracks of what is U2’s 13th studio album. Apple vice-president Eddy Cue said: “To help put this into perspective, prior to this, 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since the opening of the iTunes store in 2003.”
Beyond the millions of download listeners, even more people have heard Songs of Innocence by streaming tracks through iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music; 81 million Apple customers “experienced” parts of the music, Cue said; that is equivalent to about 17 times the population of Ireland.
That number is expected to grow, and on 14 October the LP will also get its worldwide physical release. The CD version comes bundled with 10 additional tracks, including six acoustic versions and four all-new songs. Already, U2 are thought to have received at least $5m (£3.1m) from Apple, with millions more to be paid in royalties. Sales of the band’s back-catalogue also increased significantly over the past month.
Unsurprisingly, U2 and Apple have not released data on how many people visited a special website designed to remove Songs of Innocence from their computers. “Apple is a tech company fighting to get musicians paid,” the band told Billboard in a statement. “The idea that they wanted to make a gift to the very people that actually purchase music is both beautiful and poetic, and for that we are very grateful.”
U2 plan to launch a new world tour in 2015 and are also midway through recording their next album, Songs of Experience. That record is expected to be launched in “about 18 months”, in conjunction with Apple’s new, “interactive format for music”. Bono, the band’s frontman, claimed: “[The technology] will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way.”
Bono has also recently debuted a new music project: the Venetian Blinds, consisting of the singer, the actor Bill Murray and an eight-piece orchestra, played a one-off gig during last weekend’s wedding celebrations for George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. They sang Cole Porter songs, according to the New York Post. There is no indication that they have plans for a repeat performance.
This article was written by Sean Michaels, for theguardian.com on Friday 10th October 2014 10.54 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010