And It Pissed Me Off MUCH More Than I Expected
Right, I had heard the kerfuffle, people were annoyed that U2’s new album came free with new iPhones. Some of the reactions seemed a little extreme to me, I mean, OK someone gave you an album, you can delete it, big deal. Maybe it’s even good. I was curious and I was going to get around to listening to it. I really like some of U2’s records. I finally went and got an iPhone two months ago. I like the thing, I’m getting used to it, I love having iTunes in a unit with my phone and email and blah blah, welcome to iSociety, I’m digging it, but THEN!
I’m driving on the freeway, listening to MY playlist, with music I selected, you know, songs I CHOSE to listen to, and this tune comes on I don’t recognize. WTF is this, I’m thinking. I can’t skip over it, or even look at the iPhone screen, because I’m driving, but then I hear Bono’s voice and immediately realize what has happened. The free download invaded my device. It didn’t wait for me to choose to download it. It crashed my party. It hijacked my iTunes playlist. And I was seriously enraged, just so much more angry than I would have expected. Yelling expletives at U2, I turned off my car stereo, the only thing I could safely do in that moment. I was just NOT going to listen to something that one of the biggest bands in the world forced me to. It turned me off to U2 instantly and properly.
Now here’s the thing. U2 doesn’t need me to like them. They don’t really need to care what any of us think of this. Apple Inc. gave them 100 million dollars to exclusively distribute that record for a period. Of course U2 took the money. Because even if you already have more money than God, as U2 has had for a long time now, you still accept a check for let me say it again: 100. Million. Dollars. I don’t resent them their success and I don’t blame them for taking the dough. But they lost me. I just have no interest in a band that would take my personal music set, that I am deejaying, for myself, and put their record on in an ambush. I don’t even care if it’s any good or not. It could be Sgt. Pepper for all I care.
When this happened, it really surprised me how much it offended me. But on reflection it makes sense. Our music collections are very, very personal. We each have unique, subjective, significant meanings attached to the records we love and the playlists we assemble. Bono, I can forgive his relentlessly self-aggrandizing Jesus cozying up to war criminals to Save The Children schtick, I want to think his heart’s in the right place. Edge, he wants to build a vast compound castle fortress whatever where he’s not supposed to because he can afford to buy the moon and Mars twice, fine, OK, he likes shiny things. Do not jump into my music collection like you are welcome and wanted there automatically for some reason. How fantastically arrogant. No.
I downloaded the delete U2 app. And ran it. I am sure the 100 million dollars more than makes up for pissing off a fan who bought WAR on its 1st pressing, and tickets to see them live several times in the 80’s and 90’s, and listened to Joshua Tree hundreds of time, joyfully and willingly, because I wanted to, and chose to.
This was an amazingly tone deaf move on Apple and U2’s part, in my perplexingly strong opinion. But I gotta call it as I felt it. My music playlist. Mine.