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U2 Threatens to Release Album Early on iTunes 572

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hurrying-to-market dept.
Uninvited Guest writes "After a rough cut of U2's latest unfinished album was stolen earlier this week, the band has vowed to release the entire album on iTunes if the music appears on P2P networks. Bono told the London Daily Telegraph, 'If it is on the Internet this week, we will release it immediately as a legal download on iTunes, and get hard copies into the shops by the end of the month.' Is this the exact opposite of the Smashing Pumpkins' last album, which the band rushed to release on P2P networks, before it could hit the stores?"
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U2 Threatens to Release Album Early on iTunes

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  • sooo? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_argent (28326) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:46PM (#9775854) Homepage
    If it's available for free on P2P networks, we'll make it available for people to buy online?

    Just don't get that.........
    • Re:sooo? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ggvaidya (747058)
      Presumably, the "real fans" will then buy it on iTunes rather than getting it from their favourite P2P program.
      • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Funny)

        by EvilAlien (133134) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:53PM (#9775918) Journal
        There won't be any "real fans" until U2 has a chance to overhype and overplay their songs in conjunction with movie soundtracks.
      • Re:sooo? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BlueCup (753410) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:58PM (#9775960) Homepage Journal
        What's sad is it's the "real" fans that are going to be hurt by this. The fans that care enough about only hearing the finished product... to me this is like U2 pissing on their fans, all in the interest of making a few extra bucks.
        • Re:sooo? (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          what's sad is you.

          "real" U2 fans would love to be pissed on by Bono.
        • Uh, how?

          Unless they sell the real CD below the price of iTunes normal $9.99 per album price... and the fans win either way?
          • I'm sorry, I suppose I should've been more clear. Assuming this CD isn't ready to be released, and doesn't have everything finished, the tracks assumably would be of a lower quality than the ones that would be otherwise released in November. So by releasing the CD now, these tracks never reach their ultimate potential, and the customers that were willing to wait until November for the best quality possible will not now have that opportunity.
            • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by allgood2 (226994) on Friday July 23, 2004 @06:36AM (#9777888)
              That's true, but not exactly U2's fault. Technically speaking, the original album planned for November will NEVER be produced, and that's due to someone stealing it. They could proceed on a normal timeline but everything would be tainted by the theft. Not bad or good, just tainted, sometimes these things can throw artist into hyper-overdrive and what they produce in the aftermath is incredible. Other times, a great big sucking sound of their creative energy gets tied up in the thought of the theft, and whatever is produced afterwards is just halfhearted.

              I come to this from two sides, I downloaded the Lillywhite Session from the Dave Matthews band, and purchased Busted Stuff when it came out. While I fully enjoy the Lillywhite Sessions for what they are, in fact often enjoy them more than I do Busted Stuff, I do also recognize that they are not finish material. For the band to "complete" the album, they had to totally re-envision the songs, and in that since Busted Stuff is good and great to have as a comparison and contrast of what happens when creative vision is derailed.

              I think U2's desire is to get something out that they feel is close to a finish product rather than having an album out for months that isn't near what they wanted the final album to be. For me that's a respectable decision. For their part, they've vowed to work rapidly on the album, canceling vacation plans and other activities so they could finish it at a reasonable production level. Note, I say production level, because it could be months or years, before whatever creative impulses that drove them to do this album return to a level that would be good enough to allow them to proceed "normally."
        • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Daleks (226923) on Friday July 23, 2004 @12:08AM (#9776384)
          to me this is like U2 pissing on their fans, all in the interest of making a few extra bucks.

          They've done it before. You've heard their album Pop, haven't you?
          • Re:sooo? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by wuice (71668)
            They've done it before. You've heard their album Pop, haven't you?

            I personally don't consider a band experimenting and dabbling in different musical styles (which is pretty much what U2 has done with every one of their albums) to be pissing on their fans. In fact, I think if anything I would say it's more pandering to release album after album that sounds exactly the same, though that would include some of my favorite bands. Maybe I'm defensive, but I think Pop is a great album. I've always been a big U2
    • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GlassHeart (579618) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:53PM (#9775915) Journal
      If it's available both legally and illegally, fans will be faced with the same old choice. History tells us that a good number still choose to buy.

      However, if it's available only illegally, then a fan who wants to hear the album has no choice but to break the law. Having acquired the music, the fan will be less likely to pay for it when it is released legally.

      Once you understand that this is not meant for the people who never would've paid for it, the logic becomes quite simple.

      • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:19PM (#9776109)
        No chance but to break the law? Are you serious. How about exercising the slightest bit of self-restraint and waiting another 2 weeks. Oh I forgot, there is nothing we shouldn't have for free and damnit we deserve it right? I feel sorry for you.
        • " How about exercising the slightest bit of self-restraint and waiting another 2 weeks. Oh I forgot, there is nothing we shouldn't have for free and damnit we deserve it right? I feel sorry for you."

          If the majority of people really felt the way you have caricaturized them, then the content industry would not be thriving. I feel sorry for you for feeling so cynical about how people really are. Gloomy.
    • Re:sooo? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Flower (31351)
      Because then fans can support the band by buying the music instead of committing copyright infringement.

      Sometimes things really are that simple.

    • It's probably so people don't have to spend their time and energy searching for it on P2P networks. Also, they might advertise that it's safer (not to mention legal) to get it through iTunes instead as the files you're downloading through P2P networks might be of poorer quality, be a virus or something else rather than the actual song, etc.

      As for the hard copy version, the plus is that it'll definitely be of higher quality since it won't be of a lossy format.
      • I thought that with iTunes 4.6 the itms purchased music all was in that newfangled looslessformat.
    • Re:sooo? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:56PM (#9775948)
      What choice do they have if it gets to P2P before any other channel? If they didn't release it on iTunes the ONLY way to get it would be illegally through P2P. Many people that would have just bought the album (given no other choice) would take that route. On the other hand if they release it on iTunes you capture part of that DL market. They were obviously already going to release it on iTunes at a later date, so there's no compromise of distributor deals, etc.

      In other words you can either compete with the black market, or just roll over and play dead. U2 has decided to compete.
    • "If it's available for free on P2P networks, we'll make it available for people to buy online? Just don't get that..."

      What's not to get? There's demand for their album, right? But there's no supply. When people want something, but they can't get it legitimately, some will go towards the less-than-legit form of acuisition. But, if they supply it, they'll get sales because that demand is definitely there. Frankly, if I were a fan of U2, I'd just go the iTunes route. I'd get it quicker, plus guarantee
  • by prof_peabody (741865) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:47PM (#9775864)
    I think this just promotes a P2P release. Post it and we'll release it, almost a reward to the fans...
  • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:47PM (#9775867) Homepage
    ... and in a related article containing an even worse threat, "U2 Threatens To Release Another Album".

    RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! THE CRAPPY MUSIC COMETH!

    • Bravo!

      The only thing U2 is good for is a politically-correct answer for politicians to use when asked what bands they like.

      I find Bono extremely annoying and self-important. Every song of theirs features the same annoying twang guitar chord. Thanks a lot "The Edge". What kind of name is that anyway?

      The Brits are extremely pompous and annoying, but at least we can thank them for Led Zep, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Who, The Clash, and others. Ireland? Forget it. Stick a fork in it, it's done.
  • by Cyph (240321) <yoonix@NOsPaM.speakeasy.net> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:47PM (#9775874)
    Smashing Pumpkins did not rush to release their last album on P2P before it hit the stores, rather, they used P2P as the *only* way to release the album. They sent out 25 vinyl sets of the album to various community members to get a P2P release going.
    • Kind of. Not really. Machina II (The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music) was, as the parent said, pressed to 25 vinyl copies and given to family, friends, and members of the community. A few radio stations got them, with instructions to play it in its entirety if they so choosed. A few members of online SP communities also recieved copies in order to promote the online distribution of the album. Very few non-mp3 sourced copies of it are available... I've yet to get my hands on one.

      But as several peo

    • by zonix (592337) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:58AM (#9776964) Homepage Journal

      [...] they used P2P as the *only* way to release the album.

      Correct. Billy Corgan stated it was a personal "fuck you" to Virgin Records for preventing them in releasing the album. It was then they stopped as the band Smashing Pumpkins, to which BC said it wasn't because of issues within the band internally, but that they were tired of competing with "all the Britney Spearses out there" (something like that).

      All this makes the album title quite interesting: "Machina II - Friends and Enemies of Modern Music".

      IMO, what they did was very commendable given the circumstances. Thanks Billy and friends for releasing the album!

      z
  • What?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by citadelgrad (612423)
    Who would want to steal a U2 album? Now I'd steal a Jessica Simpson or Nick Lachey. Maybe a Brittney album. Yah! Like totally.
  • Ok, now someone please steal the next Tool record so we can all get it a couple months early.
    • Doubtful. They like to pain over every single second of that album until it is done...
      Before Lateralus was released Tool, on their website, made a list of fake(well, they didn't say at the time they were fake) tracknames and some random music to go with them, just to see how far it would profiliferate on the P2P networks. Shame to, since RiverChrist sounded like such a cool trackname.
      I would rather artists wait till they think their work is finished, they should have control over what they do and do not
  • Tonight's task (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:50PM (#9775895) Homepage
    As someone who would like to hear the music soon, I'll be at home recording tracks of me singing 'yay, can't wait for itunes. C'mon bono, release it to itunes. La la la la!' for 4 and 5 minutes each, then name them after the album and use the songlist from Amazon.com.

    Stage 2, post them to P2P programs but prevent anyone from succesfully downloading them.

    Stage 3, wait until someone hired by the record agency finds them listed and assumes the worst. Presto! The songs are released to iTunes weeks early.

    Mission accomplished.
  • Does this work the other way around as well? If it never appears on P2P networks will they delay the release of their album indefinitely? Please God, I hope so. I would give money to the RIAA to help keep this album off the networks if it meant no more U2.
  • Don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rokzy (687636) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:52PM (#9775905)
    if it's a rough cut, then it won't be as good as the one you can buy.

    if it's a practically perfect copy, then why haven't they released it already? (hint: outdated distributed method defended by useless middlemen unwilling to die gracefully)

    maybe they're scared that p2p will allow people to "try before you buy", and just want people to be able to pay for it before they've heard it, cf MPAA wanting mobiles banned because people can talk to friends about crap movies as soon as they've seen it.
  • by lakiolen (785856)
    It's the greater of two evils. Either wait a few months and have finished crappy music or have unfinished crappy music right now.
  • Two words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vegetablespork (575101) <vegetablespork@gmail.com> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:53PM (#9775921) Homepage
    Publicity. Stunt.
  • by Slime-dogg (120473) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:53PM (#9775925) Journal

    You'd figure that it's all in the title of the Pumpkin's last album. The truth is that, though Billy Corgan loved the idea of free music, the band was only allowed to release it on-line after Virgin decided that they wouldn't make any money on it.

    As it is, though the album has some great music on it, it is rough... very rough. Given the sales of Machina, which didn't exactly reach the figures that they wanted, F&E was released for free as high quality mp3's.

    So, is U2 the friend, or the enemy of modern music? Is "modern" music that which is envisioned by the likes of Corgan, where expression is free in it's entirety, or is it that which rakes in the cash? I'd say that it's the former, since that's where the real expression comes out. U2's last album was somewhat of a whore for sales... it sounded nice and poppy, none of it was objectionable or edgy... and it sold a lot of copies. U2 is showing their true colors, now, by fleecing us with their name. Their music isn't special anymore, it doesn't have the content anymore, it's just meaningless pandering to the "modern music" crowds.

    I'll stick with my Pumpkins for now.

    • Are you kidding? U2's last good album was Joshua Tree. They haven't put out an album with more than one or two good songs since. To say that their last album is when they started fleecing us is to be off by a good fifteen years :-)

      Oh, and the Pumpkins only have about six good songs. If you want a band that started out great and have just gotten better with age, try REM. Except for Monster, they can't seem to put out a bad album.

      Okay, I think I'm done presenting my opinion as fact. Flame on!
    • by No. 24601 (657888) on Friday July 23, 2004 @04:39AM (#9777565)
      So, is U2 the friend, or the enemy of modern music? Is "modern" music that which is envisioned by the likes of Corgan, where expression is free in it's entirety, or is it that which rakes in the cash? I'd say that it's the former, since that's where the real expression comes out. U2's last album was somewhat of a whore for sales... it sounded nice and poppy, none of it was objectionable or edgy... and it sold a lot of copies. U2 is showing their true colors, now, by fleecing us with their name. Their music isn't special anymore, it doesn't have the content anymore, it's just meaningless pandering to the "modern music" crowds.

      I'll stick with my Pumpkins for now.

      This Casey Casum. Now on with the countdown...

  • by neil.pearce (53830) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @10:55PM (#9775936) Homepage
    A rough cut of the disk disappeared from a recording studio in Nice during a photo shoot .
    It's clear that a photo shoot in Nice has proved itself to be a device that could be used to illegaly copy music. I propose an immediate Senate bill to ban such technology.

    The band was putting together the finishing touches. Most of the album had previously been recorded in Dublin.
    It's clear that being present in Dublin has proved itself to be a device that could be used to illegaly copy music. I propose an immediate Senate bill to ban such technology.

  • by Jesterboy (106813) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:01PM (#9775984)
    Am I the only one who read this headline "U2 Threatens to Relase (a new) Album"?

    I suppose I just need to skim less...
  • by SchnauzerGuy (647948) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:02PM (#9775990)
    A rough cut of the disk disappeared from a recording studio in Nice during a photo shoot. The band was putting together the finishing touches. Most of the album had previously been recorded in Dublin.
    Maybe I'm a little cynical, but this sounds very fishy.

    Why would U2 take the actual CD of their incomplete album to a photo shoot? And since it was a rough cut, it almost certainly was a CD-R, so you would think that any old blank CD disc would photograph just as well. U2 has been out of the spotlight for several years, and somewhat forgotten. Then all of a sudden, their CD is "stolen" and they are back in the news. And to top it off, they "threaten" to release their album early to foil those dastardly P2P pirates.
    • I think you may be right, it may well be a setup. However, one explanation I can think of is that the CD just happened to be in one of the band member's bags or whatever - maybe they were listening to a new mix in the car on the way to the shoot? The article I read didn't suggest that the CD was involved with the shoot in any way, just that it was there.
    • I dunno maybe they were in a recording studio in Nice putting together the finishing touches on the album, when during a photo shoot it was stolen. The photo shoot could have been miles away, it just says it was stolen during the photo shoot, so while they were at a photo shoot, the disk was stolen from the recording studio, the photo shoot could have been in the recording studio but it doesn't say.
    • by Colonel Angus (752172) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:11AM (#9776724)
      Bands often have many versions of their music on CD as the songs progress. They listen to it for missed beats, bad sound, possible enhancements, whatever. It's not uncommon at all.
  • What the hell, U2 threatens to... release the album!!!! Holy crap!
  • Let us know! It's supposedly basically done too, but will be undergoing editing/refinement/etc. in the future months (early 2005 release expected. WTF?).

    BTW, is Trent Reznor on Doom3?
  • by Mitleid (734193)
    I'm usually not one to listen to popular music (not that I'm knocking it or anything.) Organic instuments never really appealed to me, but U2 is one of the few popular bands that I could always seem to get into. My musical tastes are mostly aggressive electronic music (industrial: Skinny Puppy, Haujobb, yadda yadda), so maybe I'm not the right person to be giving a critique on U2, but as far as I see things they've just totally sold out and shown that they seriosuly have no clue.

    For example, take the rel
  • It's a hoax. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakusha (441986) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:25PM (#9776141)
    This story doesn't pass the smell test. Nobody brings a live CD to a photo shoot, where this CD was supposedly stolen. The usual industry practice is to shoot a photo of the packaging, which is provided without the actual CD, which may not even be complete at the time of the photo shoot.
    I used to work in product packaging, and many many times I produced package comps (full quality mockups) for CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes that would not be finished for many weeks or months. The advertising production usually precedes the finished product. Anyone who would take the final unreleased product to a photo shoot, where there are a whole lot of bozos floating around just waiting to steal anything that's not nailed down, well, they're just asking for trouble. That's the whole reason to send faked comps instead of live product to shoots.
    • Re:It's a hoax. (Score:5, Informative)

      by typhoonius (611834) on Friday July 23, 2004 @12:04AM (#9776363) Homepage

      Who knows; the band has a history of stupid leaks:

      • Around 1981, before the release of their second album, October, a suitcase containing Bono's handwritten lyrics was stolen. Apparently, he sort of ad-libbed it in the studio.
      • In 1990, a three-disc bootleg of outtakes from the Achtung, Baby sessions was leaked. It contained rough takes that would eventually become the songs on the album
      • In 1996 or so, an MP3 of a rough edit of "Discotheque," the lead single for their Pop album, was leaked onto the internet.
      • Around 2000, Bono apparently lost a laptop containing rough mixes of songs from their upcoming All That You Can't Leave Behind. It was returned safely, though, and there wasn't a leak.
      • Later that year, though, the band decided to post 30-second snippets of each song from their new album. They were going to release one new snippet a week until the album was released. Unfortunately, the clueless webmasters had already uploaded all of the songs and just didn't link to them yet, so fans just guessed at the file names and downloaded all the snippets early.
      • In 2002, several different mixes of "Electrical Storm" were played on radio stations and were leaked onto the internet.

      In any case, this new album is about three years overdue. Their last album was released in October 2000, and the tour supporting it wrapped up in December 2001. What the hell have they been doing since then? I dunno, I sort of lost track. Kind of sad when you don't know that one of your favorite bands is releasing a new album soon until you read it on Slashdot.

  • Pink Floyd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mattwolf7 (633112) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:36PM (#9776191)
    U2 is just being babies....

    Pink Floyd had Dark Side of the Moon bootlegs in stores....

    "Pink Floyd played a concert version of Dark Side at London's Rainbow Theatre in February 1972. To their dismay, a bootleg recording of the concert sold 100,000 copies about a year before the official release." Article [theage.com.au]

    And look what it became...

    "In the USA, DSotM is the 18th best-selling album of all time and has spent a total of over 740 weeks on the Billboard magazine music charts with the longest continuous period lasting 591 consecutive weeks. It reached the #1 chart position in the US, Belgium and France; even in 2002, thirty years after the album's release, over 400,000 copies were sold in the United States, making the record the 200th bestselling album that year. "Time", "Money" and "Us and Them" have become radio call-in favourites (with "Money" having also been a bestselling single in the USA)." Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    If it is good enough people will still buy it. So if this record is phenomenal U2 should just finish it.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realStrategos (260587) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:37PM (#9776196)
    "French police have launched a major operation to find the disc."

    I just realized how screwed up this world really is. A major police operation has been launch to find a CD. Aparantly all other crimes have been defeated.
  • by siriuskase (679431) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:40PM (#9776211) Homepage Journal
    The faster you get it out, the more it's worth, but the minute it's out, it will start losing value almost immediately due to the ease of duplication. It would be a shame for them to lose out by not being first to market with their own album. By recognizing the way the music market works, they will give fans who prefer a nice clean "legit" version the option of being able to buy it.

    IP of all sorts will get copied in spite of all the DRM and other crippling technology people can devise. It's not just music, if we can't prevent kids from downloading in rich countries, how can we expect to prevent motivated adults in countries without a history of IP protection from duplicating. In China, they clone cars [freerepublic.com], that's surely not frictionless. Someday, IP of all sorts will be marketed like other perishables with a finite shelf life. Copyright and trademark laws will need to adapt to this reality.

    Musicians and Authors will be like Engineers and Programmers and Farmers, if they want to live off their IP, they will need to keep producing more of it. Which was kinda the whole point of IP laws in the first place

  • Erm wait. . . How will this show them again? This seems like a pretty empty threat. Are they under the impression that pirates care if the song is available for sale or not?

    I'm not saying this isn't a smart move in that it might sway die-hard U2 fans (if there is such a thing) from the temptation of downloading the tracks from kazaa early -- though I bet most of them who did download them for free early would still buy the cd anyways. . .

    Still, I hardly see how this qualifies as news, or why this seems t
  • just because I'm fed up with crappy rips, incomplete songs, and screwed up tags to even bother with p2p anymore.

    The ONLY reason I've used p2p at all recently is because I heard some bands on Snake Net Metal Radio (one of the iTunes radio stations) and I wanted to hear at least 1 or 2 other songs by the bands (Nightwish, in this case) - I said "Hey, decent band!" and went out and bought 2 of their CDs, and plan to buy more.

    So, this could very well work.. and p2p can serve as a great way to find new bands.
  • by the_illuminatus (205461) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:48PM (#9776263) Homepage Journal
    ...which is forced to ALWAYS work pro bono...
  • by spezz (150943) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:55PM (#9776315)
    To save you the trouble of downloading it (pay or free):

    1. war is bad
    2. the common man is good
    3. we'd like another stadium tour now, please

  • No, no, no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @11:58PM (#9776334) Homepage Journal
    That story is wrong! The truth is that U2 has delayed their album a year because they have to change the security measures on the album so that hackers won't be able to use the stolen version to write quick cheats.
  • Threatened? Vowed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Friday July 23, 2004 @12:01AM (#9776349) Homepage Journal
    How about a simple "said"?
    There is no justification for the emotive terms "threatened" or "vowed".
  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Friday July 23, 2004 @12:31AM (#9776500) Homepage Journal
    "After a rough cut of U2's latest unfinished album was stolen earlier this week, the band has vowed to release the entire album on iTunes if the music appears on P2P networks."

    ...Yeah, and????

    I mean, is that a threat? Because I truely am baffled. "By golly, since somebody stole our copy, we'll release the entire damn thing on iTunes!" Ok, so we're going to punish the large majority of our innocent fanbase who still easily outnumber the .mp3 wired, deny ourselves a huge revenue stream and put it strait to digital format so the pirates don't have to work too hard to get it.

    Aside from the potential bonus of making iTunes more popular, there's no freakin' logic to this action. Millions of people who have never downloaded a song in their lives are being cut out of the loop for.... Uh, what was that reasoning again???

    Yeah... You go U2. Show em who's boss. ^_^
  • by ElvenMonkey (789317) on Friday July 23, 2004 @03:46AM (#9777394)
    ... A French police spokesman talking about the stolen U2 album confirmed that "We still haven't found what we're looking for."

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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