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Bono finally owns-up to ruining your iTunes library with that free U2 album

U2 frontman Bono has finally owned-up. The free U2 album forced onto everyone’s deeply-personal iTunes libraries back in 2014 was entirely his idea.

The Songs of Innocence album appeared automatically in people’s iTunes libraries, and then inadvertently synced onto iPhones and iPods thereafter. It was notoriously hard to dispense with too.

Many users who deleted it, including this writer, found it would mysteriously show-up within the library again. It was quite upsetting. For 8-years I’ve wondered whether I needed to blame Tim Cook’s musical taste, or Bono’s over-reaching. Now we know it’s the latter.

In his forthcoming memoir, previewed in the Guardian over the weekend, Bono says: “I take full responsibility.” In the book 40 Songs, One Story he writes: “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.”

The Beautiful Day singer (that one wasn’t on the free iTunes album) recounts the story about how the giveaway came into being after a conversation with Tim Cook, who was still relatively new in the big chair at Apple.

Bono writes that Cook told him: “‘You want to give this music away free? But the whole point of what we’re trying to do at Apple is to not give away music free. The point is to make sure musicians get paid,’” He continues: “‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t think we give it away free. I think you pay us for it, and then you give it away free, as a gift to people. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?’”

Turns out few iTunes users agreed, as there was quite the backlash. Bono initially apologised and Apple gave everyone instructions on how to delete it. However, this new contrition makes me feel a little bit bad for being so annoyed by it.

He writes: “You might call it vaunting ambition. Or vaulting. Critics might accuse me of overreach. It is. If just getting our music to people who like our music was the idea, that was a good idea. But if the idea was getting our music to people who might not have had a remote interest in our music, maybe there might be some pushback. But what was the worst that could happen? It would be like junk mail.”

Anyway, guess we can close the case on that one, finally.

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