The Guardian Gets It Right On The U2 Free Album

From The Guardian:

U2 have a new album – and it’s all over the web. There are 14 downloads points. It’s all over BitTorrent, available for free. People are exchanging notes about how to download it for free. There’s a certain element of glee that the album, which wasn’t going to be available, has suddenly leaked out.

No, I’m not talking about the release the other week on iTunes, for free, of U2’s Songs Of Innocence. This is a rewind to February 2009, when the band’s previous album, No Line On The Horizon, leaked out on to the web nearly two weeks ahead of its official release date. The same had happened before that, with How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in 2004: leaks, and peer-to-peer delight at getting something for nothing.

Yet to judge by the howls when Apple made the latest album free to download to all of the 800m or so iTunes account holders (by automatically adding it to their “Purchased” folder), there’s nothing the internet hates more than getting music for free. Especially if, in the case of people who have “automatically download new purchases” turned on, the music appears in their music folders. (For everyone else, it is simply sitting as a potential, but unrealised, download.)

So what’s going on, internet? Do you like getting U2 music for free, or not? Actually, and as so often, the howls came from a minority – as you can tell by the fact that all of U2’s other albums immediately shot back into the charts. But those outside the fanbase seemed to throw a collective grump. And those who get their kicks from purloining stuff that they’re expected to pay for were especially grumpy. How very dare the music industry make something available for free that it usually gets people to pay for. And what a wicked notion to get the world’s most valuable company to bear the costs of buying it (Apple is said to have kicked in $100m on this). It’s much more wicked than Samsung spending $5m on Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail last year to make it available to a million Galaxy smartphone owners … isn’t it?