Hey Apple, Don't Mess With My Playlist
To celebrate the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Apple Pay last week, Apple decided to gift each of its iTunes users with U2’s brand new album 'Songs of Innocence' for free.
I like U2. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge follower of their music, but their songs certainly don’t make me want to cut my own ears off (I have Radiohead and Coldplay to thank for that).
I’m a MASSIVE fan of things that are free.
So why am I finding myself in large agreement with a lot of my fellow iTunes account holders, who are unhappy about all of this?
I’ve tried to ask myself if I’m just being ungrateful. After all, I’m getting a much anticipated new album for free, and I didn’t even have to lift a finger to get it.
I just go to my music and there it is, sitting just below Tenacious D and just above (and I’m not making this up) Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’. (I downloaded it so I could teach my little niece the dance, but I like to keep it on the playlist for nostalgia purposes).
Although I’m certainly not immune from demonstrating the odd bit of ungrateful behaviour, I don’t think it’s that.
I love the fact that U2 are embracing new revenue streams. They need to, given that the traditional album distribution route is drying up.
Even though they’re giving away the album for free, they’ll be getting handsomely paid for it by Apple. The two have worked together before, and it’s starting to become the trend that major artists like Jay Z (who has a deal with Samsung) collaborate with corporates to release new music.
I also would probably have got around to listening to U2’s new album at some stage.
The reason why I’m a little bit peeved is that I’d have preferred to have been given the option. I have some alarmingly embarrassing music on my iTunes account. Whigfield is one, the original soundtrack to the musical ‘Hairspray’ is another.
But, it’s a carefully crafted playlist and I love it because each and every song is there for a reason. Granted, some of the songs were purchased at times like 2am and I couldn’t recall the exact reason behind it when I woke up the following morning. But that’s all part of its charm.
When I see the U2 album there now, it feels really hollow somehow. It’s there because a corporation decided it would be a great marketing stunt. I also know it’s been implanted on every other iTunes account, so there’s nothing unique about it.
Ironically U2 have always campaigned against people downloading their music for free...and now people are campaigning that they stop giving it away.
I also love putting my songs on 'Shuffle All'. Apple basically popularised this method with their iPod Shuffle.
For instance, last night I was treated to the following songs in sequence: Alive by Pearl Jam, What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstong, and Holding Out for A Hero by Bonnie Tyler. If this sort of thing is to become the norm, I'm going to start to fear the shuffle button, rather than embrace the eclecticness it brings.
I don’t blame Apple or U2 per se. I’m sure their intentions were good. But by just giving people the option to download the album for free, instead of implanting it onto people’s playlists, they would have won so many more fans.
Instead, the major talking point is, “How do I get rid of it?” with users arguing that the album is simply taking up valuable space in their iPhone’s storage library. In response, Apple have had to create a special webpage (here it is, in case you need it) which takes you through what you need to do to remove the album from your iTunes account.
All this shows a real lack of understanding for their users.
Music is a personal thing. We all have different tastes. It’s why when One Direction comes on the radio, my reflex impluse is to throw said radio out of the nearest window. And why when I try to introduce my beloved Metallica to sceptical minds, I’m met by a long cold hard stare.
Give people the option. If they want it, they’ll get there. And they’ll feel all the better for it as a result because it’s a decision they’ve made for themselves. If it’s forced, it just ends up feeling hollow and unappreciated, which Apple have unfortunately learnt the hard way.