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Apple Paid $100 Million to Give You U2’s Latest Album

Apple's U2 ad

After U2 played a single from its new album at the end of Apple’s iPhone keynote last week, Tim Cook told Bono that the Cupertino company could make “Songs of Innocence” available through iTunes “in five seconds” as long as the band agreed to give it away for free.

By the end of the day, around 500 million iTunes customers in 119 countries worldwide saw the album added to their accounts. But this wasn’t just a generous gesture from U2. As Bono told Cook at the time, “First you would have to pay for it, because we’re not going in for the free music around here.”

And boy, did Apple pay for it. The Cupertino company had to hand over an incredibly handsome sum of money to make the deal happen.

“Apple paid the band and Universal an unspecified fee as a blanket royalty and committed to a marketing campaign for the band worth up to $100 million, according to several people briefed on the deal,” The New York Times reports. Part of the marketing deal is a global television campaign, which includes the colorful commercial “Echoes” that was shown at the end of Apple’s event.

The deal was confirmed by Guy Oseary, the man who took over the management of U2 less than a year ago. To his credit, Oseary was keen to point out to The Times that this wasn’t a gift from U2, but rather a gift from Apple. “They bought it and they are giving it away,” he said.

Rumors that U2 may appear at Apple’s iPhone keynote began weeks before it, and given the close relationship between the two, it didn’t seem unlikely. They’ve been working together for over a decade, since Apple announced the U2-themed iPod, on things like the Product (RED) campaign — but no one predicted that Apple would be giving away the band’s latest album for free.

It’s a win-win situation for both parties, though. For Apple, it proves that the company is still very much into music and indeed a big figure in the music industry. And for U2, it provides a major platform to promote its newest album around the world.

Who would turn down the chance to have their latest product unveiled and advertised alongside the biggest and best iPhones yet?

Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...