Apple’s Devious U2 Album Giveaway Is Even Worse Than Spam

September 16, 2014 10:36 AM

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The company concluded its big reveal of the Apple Watch and the newest generation iPhones with a curious coda: 10 years after the U2 song “Vertigo” was used in one of the first “dancing silhouette” iPod ads, the band took to the stage to unveil a surprise new album being distributed exclusively by Apple, and given to all users of the iTunes Music Store. In a press release, Apple calls this, correctly, “the largest album release ever.” “A big moment in music history. And you’re part of it,” crows the U2 page Apple set up on its website. “Never before have so many people owned one album, let alone on the day of its release.”

This is all technically true, but bloviating aside, there’s a very simple reason why this is unprecedented, and that is because it doesn’t make any sense. Never before has such a major technology company also operated as publicist for a creative artist. The whole endeavor yearns desperately to be a ...

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