It has been a whirlwind nine months for Guy Oseary since he took the reins of U2’s management after longtime manager Paul McGuinness announced his retirement last fall. That includes a Golden Globe, an Oscar nomination, a big Super Bowl campaign and the premiere of The Tonight Show in support of two songs that ultimately didn’t make the final cut on Songs of Innocence, the history-making album that debuted to 500 million iTunes customers on Sept. 9.
Many people are already calling the announcement “disruptive” in the same way that Jay Z’s deal with Samsung and Beyonce’s surprise album drop were also disruptive to traditional industry rollouts. While this news was significant for U2, how could other artists potentially benefit?
Well first of all, when music becomes a piece of the conversation at an Apple event, that’s always a good thing. Two is, the power of music and the fact that it can actually be shared with 7 percent of the planet in one push of a button. That’s a pretty big concept. Any sort of innovation may inspire other people to do things that are innovative. We may see someone sitting with another manager, or another band going, “Hey, what can we do that’s interesting maybe with our lyrics or our videos or something interactive with the ticketing to our shows?”
That’s all, I don’t know where it’s headed, I just know that I’m always looking for the answers, for new ways to do things. That’s my job, my job is to try to not follow the lead. And there’s a lot of other people that have a lot of peers and bands that are in the community wanting to lead, and they’ll lead in other ways. And that’s what’s exciting to me. It’s not gonna be the same thing. But who knows where it goes? There’s endless possibilities to do things today with music and performance.
It’s been a decade since U2 has had a true mainstream hit, so there’s a whole generation of music listeners who may just be discovering the band’s music. How do you convert them into fans without oversaturating them?
As you can see from today’s iTunes charts, clearly people are digging back into the catalog to learn more about the band, with 16 albums on the iTunes charts. That’s a statement, that people are going, “Oh, let me learn more about this band.” I’ve seen a lot of tweets from kids who are 14, 15, 16, 18 who are going, “Wow, this is really good.” They didn’t know what to expect. That’s a great feeling, that maybe someone in their collection only has hip-hop, and yet maybe someone only has country artists, or someone in India doesn’t have any Anglo artists, and they discover U2 today. The one thing all these people have in common is U2 now. The one thing everyone on iTunes has in common today is U2 and a U2 album. It’s an amazing opportunity, even at this stage in U2’s career, to make new friends.