Bono took “full responsibility” for the controversial release strategy behind U2’s 2014 LP, Songs of Innocence, that installed the album on every Apple device for free, in his upcoming memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.
In an excerpt shared via The Guardian, Bono detailed a meeting with CEO Tim Cook, U2 manager Guy Oseary, and other Apple executives where the frontman previewed the new album and proposed the tech giant “pay us for it, and then you give it away free, as a gift to people… like when Netflix buys the movie and gives it away to subscribers.” The plan was subsequently pushed forward despite Cook raising legitimate concerns like “we’re not a subscription organisation” and “this is just to people who like U2?”
“I take full responsibility,” the singer reflected in response to the public backlash. “I’d thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it. Not quite. As one social media wisecracker put it, ‘Woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, wearing my dressing gown, reading my paper.’ Or, less kind, ‘The free U2 album is overpriced.’ Mea culpa.”
Bono also regarded the action as an “overreach,” “junk mail,” and “taking our bottle of milk and leaving it on the doorstep of every house in the neighbourhood.” He continued the home delivery analogy by saying “we didn’t just put our bottle of milk at the door but in every fridge in every house in town. In some cases we poured it on to the good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk.”
The Songs of Innocence rollout was initially met with overwhelming confusion from Apple users unfamiliar with the band, but criticism soon followed from the likes of Foo Fighters, Conan O’Brien, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, and Sinead O’Connor, who called the group “terrorists.” Although Apple quickly developed an easy-to-delete option, the album was ultimately deemed a somewhat statistical success as the band’s catalogue accounted for one-fourth of all music streamed on iOS devices within four months of its release.
The frontman also copped to the misguided stunt within a month of the album’s arrival. In a fan-led interview, the singer admitted they “might have gotten carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that thing. A drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity, a dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years might not be heard.”
Bono’s memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story will arrive on November 1st (pre-order here). It features 40 chapters structured around songs from U2’s repertoire as well as 40 original drawings created by Bono. He’ll embark on a 14-city book tour starting November 2nd in New York with tickets available here.
Meanwhile, U2 will reportedly open the new MSG Sphere in Las Vegas in 2023 for their first live performances together in four years. Bono and The Edge performed inside of an Ukraine bomb shelter earlier this year, and the band will be honored alongside George Clooney and Gladys Knight at the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in December.