The Entertainment Retailers Associated has branded U2’s recent album giveaway “as damaging as piracy”, and says that all it has succeeded in doing is devaluing music further.
Said ERA chairman, Paul Quirk: “Giving away music like this is as damaging to the value of music as piracy, and those who will suffer most are the artists of tomorrow. U2 have had their career, but if one of the biggest rock bands in the world are prepared to give away their new album for free, how can we really expect the public to spend £10 on an album by a newcomer?”
The ERA statement also notes that aggregate sales of U2’s catalogue amounted to 697 albums across Great Britain and Northern Ireland the week before the band announced it would give away 500m copies of Songs Of Innocence. Last week they amounted to 6,744, an 868% increase, but worth less than £50,000 at retail prices. Of those sales, 95.4% were digital downloads, as physical retailers were not briefed in advance to order in extra stock.
U2 and Apple “gifted” their new album, Songs Of Innocence, to 500m iTunes users last week, but many of those users complained about the album being downloaded into their music collections without their permission. Apple very quickly released an online tool that allowed users to remove the album from their devices should they wish to.
“Some customers asked for the ability to delete Songs Of Innocence from their library, so we set up itunes.com/soi-remove to let them easily do so. Any customer that needs additional help should contact AppleCare,” Apple spokesman Adam Howorth told the BBC.