How Did Apple’s U2 Freebie Go So Wrong?

People really don't want this album. Sad face.

u2 lpApple and U2 have been dealing with negativity over the past week or so all because they gave users a free copy of the band’s new album “Songs of Innocence.” What gives? Don’t people like a freebie? Don’t people like U2?

The “gift,” as the band tweeted, went to 500 million users automatically at a cost to Apple of what some have estimated $100 million. I argued here that the band was upstaged by Apple’s other announcements from the September 9 event. This is the first U2 album in five years and — yes I’m biased because I have a soft spot for the band — but this is a big deal. It deserves its own fanfare.

But it looks like the situation is even worse. People were really upset by the move.

First off, some people with questionable taste just couldn’t bear the idea of the album being on their devices. Some have moved on to other bands and can’t be bothered while others, just to annoy us with their annoying youth, say they’ve never heard of U2. Lies!

But the answer might sit more squarely in the word that Slate used to describe the marketing ploy: creepy.

The fact that Apple was able to infiltrate our precious music playlists in order to inject what they believe we should want pissed people off. Music, like food and movies, are passions that aficionados go to great pains to personalize. There are some who can — and do — spend a great deal of time analyzing bands, songs, notes and albums. That was the original beauty of the iPod. You could choose hundreds of songs to create the unique soundtrack to your day. This partnership encroached on that.

That they could do it with such ease gives us one more reason to be nervous about our privacy and personal data. At a time when tremendous security breaches are happening one after another, we don’t like reminders of what people can do with our stuff remotely from their computers.

“I’m being hyperbolic with the affront here, but it’s a creepy precedent, and over the weekend I did have to skip over U2 songs I never asked for on my phone,” the site says.

So now Apple is offering a free tool for folks who want to remove the album from their devices. If you remove it and then download it again after October 13, you’re going to be charged, so consider yourself warned.

“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. said Bono on the band’s site. “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.” Oh gosh, sad face.

h/t CBS News