The Last of the Rock Stars
When Hip-Hop drove the big cars.
In the time when New Media.
Was the big idea. -U2
U2 just released their 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence. Through a partnership with Apple, the Album was given to people through Itunes, for Free. Pretty cool, right? Ha ha. Just kidding. Of course this makes them horrible people.
What seems to me to be a forward thinking way of doing business, has been criticized. U2 is labelled with the term, "sell out," by GIVING AWAY THEIR ALBUM FOR FREE.
Of course the face of U2 is their iconic frontman, Bono. Bono, he of 22 Grammy Awards; famous humanitarian, beloved father, friend, husband, musician, and one of the most hated men in the world. I can not think of a person who is more routinely criticized unjustly than Bono.
The latest criticism came in almost immediately. Apple announced they would be offering the new U2 album to everyone. But wait, you are devaluing music! As Bono pointed out as soon as the announcement, U2 actually got paid. It was essentially a gift from Apple. Which makes the exact point people want to criticize, a little confusing.
So the band gets paid, as they deserve to; the album is a free gift to fans, and they still are hated for it. But why, exactly? Radiohead did a very similar thing in 2007 with In Rainbows. They offered the album to people through their website. "Pay what you want," and most people decided that 0.00 was the exact amount they desired to pay. Later they offered the Album in a traditional format in stores and it became a hit. As Radiohead stated at the time: "We sell less records, but we make more money."
It is worth pointing out that Radiohead were hailed for this decision. U2 are hailed by business experts, but by the public at large as well as some fellow musicians, the publicity is negative.
The Rolling Stones made a cereal commercial. Pete Townsend sells The Who's music to anyone willing to pay. Led Zeppelin's music can be heard in a current commercial for a video game.
MTV doesn't play music videos anymore. If you want to promote your music, I have yet to see the problem (if done well) with the Apple connection. U2 famously love new technology. It makes sense they are Apple fans. Their video for "Even Better Than The Real Thing," required the invention for a new kind of camera. That's just one example. Many of the very people rolling their eyes at U2 for making this deal, will be first in line for the new IWatch.
U2 turned down 25 million dollars to sell their song, "Where The Streets Have No Name," to Nissan. They said no. Would The Stones or The Who do that? We know Bob Seger would not have. Or Kid Rock. And that's fine. But where is the consistency?
Part of the problem is, Bono is not entirely easy to label.
Bono is a liberal rock star. So conservatives don't care for him asking world leaders for money to fight AIDS in Africa. It should be noted, since his efforts, things have improved. Having been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize no longer seems silly; it now seems silly that certain people who have accomplished far less, have won over him.
He is also a business man. Who happens to work in the music business. How many bands of U2's longevity can you think of that have kept their original lineup, their entire career? Part of that has to be that they decided from day one they wanted to be smart about the business end. Which would in turn make them less likely to resent each other and break up over such matters like so many bands do. They have generated so much money for Ireland that their was (and probably still is) an entire division in their version of the IRS, just devoted to their taxes. When Ireland got even more oppressive with their tax laws, they very wisely moved some operations to another country. Where they could keep more of their own money. Money they earned. This is not only legal, but smart. The people that criticize Bono and the band over this decision are assuming Ireland knows better than all of their citizens how they should spend their own money.
"Aid is just a stop gap. Commerce, Entrepreneurial Capitalism, takes more people out of poverty than aid. Of course we know that." -Bono
While very much a "give a man a fish," type of person. Bono also has come to understand the power of the Biblical, "teach a man to fish." He started a clothing line with his wife called "Edun". The profits not only go to help Africa, but it provides jobs for Africans as well. Production is sourced throughout the continent.
Which leads to one of the things people do not like the most.
Bono is also a Christian. Many non-believers, don't like him for this.
Many believers also don't like him for this reason. Because, he is not "Christian enough," in their minds.
"We've found different ways of expressing it, and recognized the power of the media to manipulate such signs. Maybe we just have to sort of draw our fish in the sand. It's there for people who are interested. It shouldn't be there for people who aren't." -Bono
A man who stated early on he is a Christian; to people's minds, must repeat this fact in every interview to make them happy. He is also not in a "Christian Band," so he is criticized by standards of a preacher, that he never signed up for.
Is Bono a perfect Christian? Of course not. But here is the thing; that's kind of the point of Christianity. There is only one worthy of any of it. And the people that spend such time and effort condemning a man, that every member of Billy Graham's family seems to think is a good, Christian, man...well. I am going to take the word of people who actually know him.
I will say this on a personal level. I grew up going to concerts by Christian Bands. I would sometimes feel God in the room. I have also felt that, but more so at one specific U2 concert. (and no other rock show) When Bono said, "I think God is in this building," I don't think he was wrong. He might not show up to every U2 show, but I think He is at the very least a casual fan.
Which brings us to what should be the real love him or hate him point anyway; the music. Do you hate U2 music? Do you hate Bono's voice? His lyrics? If so, fine. Dislike him all you want. I have no issue with you.
But when it is based on something else. And on such a visceral, personal level. Either from a strange jealousy or some outdated, pretentious notion of how music should be packaged and sold. I think that is not just unfair, but ridiculous.
Think if you can honestly say you would turn down the chance to get your art shared with the world. That you would turn down money for something you worked years on.
If you can, you should immediately go to the hospital to get that stick removed. You have bigger issues than seeing a band you don't much care for, show up for free in your Itunes.
The McRib Phenomenon
3 years ago