Pushing in your pocket
This week saw the launch of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. Two devices that we’ll soon be seeing everywhere. Apple are notoriously known for being late arrivals at the party but tactfully capturing the imagination of almost everyone as they walk in with coolest groove since James Brown told us to “get on up”.
So let’s talk about how Apple will change the face of mobile communications and bio technology with these new devices. Actually, lets not.
Instead let’s look at the most significant incident in digital music delivery since Radiohead announced a pay as you like method for their acclaimed album ‘In Rainbows’ in 2007. So what happened and what has it got to do with you?
Well U2, undeniably one the biggest bands in history (their sales and touring revenue cannot be denied), released their new album ‘Songs of Innocence’ without so much as a whiff of build up, for free on iTunes this week. Simultaneously they preformed at the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch launch in San Francisco, the tech announcement of the year as it’s the first time brand new Apple products have been announced since the death of Steve Jobs. Those who are not fans of U2 maybe delighted that they’ve not been subjected to the typical teaser campaign of endless studio gigs, interviews, snippets of the latest videos and magazine covers. Others may be acutely aware that a significant event of digital delivery has occurred.
It’s true that in this new age of digital publication most bands giveaway music for free in some form of capacity, but U2 and Apple did something unparalleled. Their partnership has seen their new album being pushed to over 500million iTunes accounts via their iCloud service, meaning whether you love or loathe them you have their album on your mobile, iPad, Mac or any other device with iTunes on. In other words, in a single moment their new album was in the pockets, desks and laps of more people than their entire album back catalogue three times over, instantly. Never before has a body of music been literally pushed into the hands of the consumer in such a way and to such audience volume.
What does this mean for consumers? Will we be force fed new releases in the future? Personally as a U2 fan I’m happy for Apple to pass any of their music my way if it’s free, but I can see how people who loathe the band would be rather less keen to have a new U2 album sitting there on their personal device when they woke up the next morning (hollers of “what happened last night for this be here?”, and “is this the Matrix?” beckon). If I woke up tomorrow morning and found a new Peter Andre record on my iPhone I think I may very well throw my device out of the window!
Is there a line that has been crossed with this delivery? What else will Apple force-feed us in the future and what does this methodology say about U2? Does this strategy undervalue their five years of studio toil to produce this record? Whilst the 11 songs are only available for a limited time (25days) as a free offering via the iCloud, U2 have rattled not only the music industry but the way in which information can be pushed to such a large audience without a sniff of warning. Brands and companies of all industries will be taking note of the monumental event.
Whether you are an Apple convert or not, this display has shown their reach is beyond that of their physical products and not only are questions being raised about the security of content on your device itself (iCloud hacks have been high on the press agenda following compromising celebrity photo's being released on the web), but there are also valuable discussions to be had of what is appropriate to be pushed onto your device(s), by one of the biggest and most influential companies the world has ever known.
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