Bono praises Apple and Spotify over digital music payments

Bono

Bono has praised Apple and Spotify for their efforts to pay musicians for downloads and streams of their music, while claiming that songwriters still get “a poor deal” in the digital era.

The U2 frontman’s latest comments on digital music came in a blog post published on the band’s website to mark the start of 2015, written while recovering from a serious cycling accident.

Bono said that the band’s controversial iTunes giveaway of its Songs Of Innocence album was “very annoying to people who a) like being annoyed, and/or b) felt it was like someone robbing their phone in the pub and taking a couple of photos before leaving it back on the table”

He added that he empathised with the latter group, but directed the former to a YouTube video by US chat-show host Jimmy Kimmel suggesting that Bono’s response to complainers should have been “fuck you”.

Bono had warm words for Apple, despite the criticism of the band and technology firm’s partnership. “That Apple remains a music company is the best news for any one who wakes up with a melody in their head or wanting to hear one,” he wrote.

“Apple is unique in big tech in trying to get artists paid. That they would agree to pay Universal for Songs of Innocence, and then gift it to all the people who still believe music is worth paying for, both makes sense and is a beautiful thing.”

Neither U2 nor Apple have revealed how much the company paid for the album, with the $100m reported in the media a misleading figure, since it includes the value of Apple’s marketing campaigns featuring music from the album.

In his new year’s blog post, Bono also praised streaming music service Spotify, which has fielded criticism from a number of artists – most prominently Taylor Swift – about its payments to artists and songwriters.

“We all now understand the Internet is giving us access to information that is mostly flattening an uneven playing field. This is all good except when some technologists think that creative content is only valuable in its ability to show off their wares - hard or soft,” wrote Bono.

“Some say musicians should be pleased with new ways to promote live concerts but I remind people that Cole Porter didn’t play live shows. Songwriters are getting a poor deal right now.

The reason I respect for-fee services like Spotify is that they are slowly turning people who are used to getting their music for-FREE, into paying ten dollars a month for a subscription model.

These payments don’t add up to replacement for income from physical or digital sales at the moment - but I think they can if everyone sits down – record companies, artists and digital services - to figure out a fairer way of doing business.”

This is not the first time Bono has defended Spotify from its critics. During an appearance at the Web Summit conference in November, he suggested that musicians should be targeting labels with their ire rather than streaming services.

“Spotify are giving up 70% of all their revenues to rights owners. It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record labels haven’t been transparent,” he said then.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Monday 5th January 2015 08.52 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010