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U2’s Songs of Innocence: a great album opens new revenue model for musicians

Released yesterday, U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, hits you twice over.

First, this album comes after five long years, after No Line on the Horizon (2009) and is the Irish band’s fifteenth. Such a long period between albums raises fan expectations and U2 doesn’t disappoint. I particularly enjoyed ‘Cedarwood Road’ and ‘Iris’, but each of the album’s 11 songs stand strong. It’s too early to write a critical review but I’m loving the album.

Second, if you have an iTunes account, you can download this album free. This is new and could open up a new trend — as consumers stop buying music, musicians are making more money from concerts, investing and movie licensing than album sales. “We were paid,” the band’s lead singer Bono told Time magazine. “I don’t believe in free music. Music is a sacrament.”

Although the size of the Apple-U2 deal remains undisclosed, it is likely to be big. The big question is will such a deal be offered to lesser-known musicians and open new revenue streams? My assessment: yes, but the value of those deals will vary. For budding musicians, this deal opens another door for them to be able to pass through, just as releasing videos on Youtube has been for some time now. Disruptive technologies are impacting not merely sounds but revenue models for musicians as well. We need to watch this space carefully.

My first exposure to U2 came with their fifth album The Unforgettable Fire, released in 1984. The song, ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’ blew me completely. By the time I reached college and became part of my college rock band, U2 released its seventh album, The Joshua Tree. This time I was ready, and we played the album’s most-famous track, ‘With Or Without You’ on stage. We got accolades, awards and encores for our performances but we knew it was the music of U2 (along with Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams among others) that pulled the crowds and gave us our 90 minutes of fame.

Listening to Songs of Innocence, took me all the way back to those heady days. Over the next week, you will hear much about this album as well as this deal, but for now, I sign off with some links I found interesting around this ‘autobiographical’ album:

With ‘Songs of Innocence,’ U2 Recasts Its Youth: New York Times
Bono Reveals Secrets of U2’s Surprise Album ‘Songs of Innocence’: Rolling Stone
U2: Songs of Innocence – first listen review: The Guardian
U2’s ‘Songs of Innocence’: A Track-by-Track Guide: Rolling Stone
Bono On U2’s Not-So-Free iTunes Album: Time
Review: First Impressions of U2′s ‘Songs of Innocence’: Wall Street Journal
The U2 discography

Happy listening!

 

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