U2’s mysterious album: pro bono or pro Bono?


Theresa Benton

Many Apple users saw U2’s free album as a gift, but some question the band’s intentions.

Kara sat down to do her homework after a long day at school. Wanting to relax a bit, she put in her headphones to listen to music. Some of her favorite songs played, but then something she did not recognize came up.


Though Kara is fictitious, her story most certainly is not. More than a few Mercy girls have experienced the same thing.

On Sept. 11, 2014, many Apple users were surprised to see a U2 album show up on their playlist.

“I don’t mind it,” said freshwoman Sydne Price. “But it is a little…interesting.”

The surprise album, titled Songs of Innocence, is leaving many asking why and how. U2 hasn’t released a new album in five years, so what’s the deal? As of now, there is no real reason as to why U2 decided to partner with Apple to gift users with their music. It is possible it was an attempt to remind consumers to buy their music. The band’s lead singer, Bono, published a letter to fans on U2’s website on Sept. 9 titled “Remember Us?”

According to Billboard, U2 made a deal (valued at $100 million) with Apple for the album to be automatically downloaded onto the devices of half a billion iTunes users. This begs the question: was this a free gift, or an advertisement?

“I think it was cool,” said junior Katie Urbin. “I’ve never seen anyone do that. It got people interested and talking, which I guess was the point.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic though.

“I don’t really like it,” said sophomore Bridget Keney. “I think it’s invasive.”

Whether or not U2 intended their action to be an advertisement, other musicians may follow their lead. In the future, automatically downloaded music– disguised as presents– may be the go-to way to spread the word about a new artist or album.

Either way, it’s free music, and some people are happy to see it as such.

“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, free album!'” Urbin said. “I was excited!”