“While you were out, we packed your fridge full of chicken nuggets, you didn’t mind, did you?” – U2 and Apple try new marketing manoeuvres with creepy undertones.
Isn’t it funny how one little thing can change your attitude to the way you live your life? Apple and U2 have just done this for me.
U2 released their 13th studio album this week at this years big Apple press conference and they had something special planned. The two money making engines colluded to give all apple users U2’s 13th effort for free.
Sounds like a nice gift doesn’t it? In fact it reflects real gifts very well, you know what i mean… when your Nan knits you a woolly cardigan you don’t want and thrusts it into your hands. You just fake a smile as best as possible and accept that you will palm it off to someone later on.
It is a little creepier though, isn’t it? This album is automatically added to your apple music library. To return to Nan’s gift: It is more like your Nan telling you that you’re already wearing her woolly cardigan (queue screaming in self realisation).
Some people might be happy about this, but it made me look at my music library and wonder who it actually belongs to. I have spent so much money on music and built this quite obsessively organised library. I get quite picky about artwork and track edits. To think that Apple have decided that it is acceptable practice to thrust this album into my music library seems like a strange action (from a company currently being scrutinised about security on celebrity icloud accounts).
This is about privacy. I built my music library over years. It includes CD rips, itunes files and purchased mp3s from elsewhere. I paid for all of it. Have I foolishly believed that I own this system and have control over it? This veneer is now washing away. The moment Apple decides they can extend their influence by integrating U2 freebees (I don’t want) into my music library is the moment I wonder whether Apple (and others) have too much control over my life.
Ironically, this news comes as I am researching different means of digitally distributing my own Grasslands music. How amusing it is for me to be worrying about who has control over my own music, while other peoples music is forced into my life.
U2 probably see it as a friendly gesture and a nice promotion for their inevitably profitable gigs, but it just seems like a strange bending of economics to me. Is the advertising industry getting so desperate that they will literally just force things into our hands and onto our PCs? Just think of the same situation in another economic medium: “While you were out, we packed your fridge full of chicken nuggets, you didn’t mind, did you?” This is not ‘supply and demand’, this is ‘establish a demand via bombardment’.
Apple might want to think about retaining a trusting relationship with their customers and not abusing it. We are individuals. We like different things. We use Apple services in different ways. We don’t all want a U2 album. We certainly don’t want to be reminded of how little control we have over this music we have collected for years.
And as for U2… I wonder if the band will be happy if I creep into their houses at night and install my Grasslands EPs on their ipods?