What’s Up with the U2 Free Album Download Numbers?

u2-album-cover.jpgIt’s an interesting turn of events that a free album, given to all iTunes Store customers, has elicited such a wide variety of reactions. Some people are delighted that the album is free; others incensed that Apple is forcing specific music on them. I wrote an article for Macworld about how to hide the album – because you cannot delete it from your iTunes library – which has been extremely popular. Lots of people don’t like U2, and don’t want this album.

But I’m curious about the numbers that are being reported. Re/code claims that “iTunes users have downloaded more than 2 million copies” of the album. That’s 0.4% of the 500 million iTunes Store accounts. Is it possible that so few people have actually downloaded this free album?

This album can show up in your iTunes library, or on your iOS device, in several ways. If you have Settings > Music > Show All Music turned on on your iOS device, you’ll see all your purchases (except for those you’ve hidden, using the technique I explain in my Macworld article). And if you have Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases checked in iTunes’ Store preferences, the album will display in your iTunes library. Presumably, if you have automatic downloads turned on, you’ll also have downloaded it. (I can’t confirm this; I don’t have this feature turned on, and I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the album downloads automatically.)

So the above suggests that people will see the album in their iTunes library, or on their iOS devices, but could only two million people have actually downloaded it? U2’s last album sold a bit more than a million copies – very low for this band – but I’d have expected more people to want to grab a freebie. Unless the fact that it’s free makes it seem less worth listening to…

What about you, dear reader? Did you download the album? Did it show up in your iTunes library automatically? And did it download automatically?

16 thoughts on “What’s Up with the U2 Free Album Download Numbers?

  1. Yes, I did. I’ve no issue with freebies. I just went to purchased page and clicked download. I don’t think it’s too bad. I have good memories of U2 back from the early 90’s. It’s not my current style but if I don’t like it I just delete or hide it, as you say. Can’t get worked up over this free but ‘forced’ album as some have. I have much more important matters to concern me, I’m afraid. Obviously I don’t have iTunes Match, show all music to show icloud turned on. I like to manually select my music for my devices.

  2. Yes, I did. I’ve no issue with freebies. I just went to purchased page and clicked download. I don’t think it’s too bad. I have good memories of U2 back from the early 90’s. It’s not my current style but if I don’t like it I just delete or hide it, as you say. Can’t get worked up over this free but ‘forced’ album as some have. I have much more important matters to concern me, I’m afraid. Obviously I don’t have iTunes Match, show all music to show icloud turned on. I like to manually select my music for my devices.

  3. It showed up in purchased music, along with the only album I’ve ever bought via iTunes. I downloaded it, played it once, not my cup of tea (I’m not a U2 fan). I’ve pulled it into LMS for the Squeezebox system – my partner might like it.

  4. It showed up in purchased music, along with the only album I’ve ever bought via iTunes. I downloaded it, played it once, not my cup of tea (I’m not a U2 fan). I’ve pulled it into LMS for the Squeezebox system – my partner might like it.

  5. I had to go to my purchased items in iTunes to find it. I think it’s a very good album, but it sounds awful!

  6. I had to go to my purchased items in iTunes to find it. I think it’s a very good album, but it sounds awful!

  7. It showed up in my iTunes in the cloud purchases on my Mac and I downloaded it. On my iOS devices, I have automatic downloads enabled but it showed up as still in the cloud on them—I would have to take explicit action to actually download it on them. So it’s not as if it’s eating up lots of storage on my iOS devices.

    I’m not a huge U2 fan, but I found it okay to listen to. I can’t understand why some people get livid over free music. I guess they have forgotten that the original iTunes came with a bunch of free music. If you don’t like it, don’t play it! Problem solved.

  8. It showed up in my iTunes in the cloud purchases on my Mac and I downloaded it. On my iOS devices, I have automatic downloads enabled but it showed up as still in the cloud on them—I would have to take explicit action to actually download it on them. So it’s not as if it’s eating up lots of storage on my iOS devices.

    I’m not a huge U2 fan, but I found it okay to listen to. I can’t understand why some people get livid over free music. I guess they have forgotten that the original iTunes came with a bunch of free music. If you don’t like it, don’t play it! Problem solved.

  9. I downloaded it manually because I have automatic downloads turned off. I like most of the album, and a couple of the songs are very, very good. I get that U2 are probably going to appeal to listeners of a certain age, but I don’t understand the outrage over being given free music. Had it been an artist I don’t like, I simply would have ignored it.

  10. I downloaded it manually because I have automatic downloads turned off. I like most of the album, and a couple of the songs are very, very good. I get that U2 are probably going to appeal to listeners of a certain age, but I don’t understand the outrage over being given free music. Had it been an artist I don’t like, I simply would have ignored it.

  11. Beyonce’s surprise album sold 600,000 copies the first week (and at least that many copies were downloaded via file-sharing), so 2 million copies of a well-known band that’s past its prime in a slumping musical category isn’t too bad. U2 are middle-aged rockers in a fragmented musical landscape oriented towards electronic and dance, whose main audience has stopped downloading/buying music, and isn’t primarily interested in anthemic arena-rock.

  12. Beyonce’s surprise album sold 600,000 copies the first week (and at least that many copies were downloaded via file-sharing), so 2 million copies of a well-known band that’s past its prime in a slumping musical category isn’t too bad. U2 are middle-aged rockers in a fragmented musical landscape oriented towards electronic and dance, whose main audience has stopped downloading/buying music, and isn’t primarily interested in anthemic arena-rock.

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