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News October 27, 2015

Disagreement over download figures of U2’s album

Billboard quoted sources suggesting the U2 album made available for free on iTunes this week has only been downloaded 200,000 times in the US. UMG immediately dismissed the figure as completely inaccurate.

Earlier this week, Apple announced it was giving away U2’s new album Songs Of Innocence to half a billion iTunes account holders in 119 countries, either by way of a stream, or an on-demand download.

Apple CEO Tim Cook described the Irish band’s 13th studio set as “the largest album release of all time”.

U2 were apparently paid something in the region of $100 million by Apple to host the album exclusively for six weeks. It took months of negotiations between Apple, U2, their new manager Guy Oseary and label Universal Music. U2 and Apple have a relationship that goes back 10 years, with Apple’s U2-themed iPod released in 2004.

But a dispute has arisen as to how well the 11-song Songs Of Innocence has sold. Obviously not all half a billion iTunes account holder are U2 fans, even if it is for free. Billboard quoted sources that the album has had 200,000 downloads in the United States.

Retailers told Billboard that normally a release like Songs Of Innocence would have sold 450,000 and 500,000 units in its first week. But as it’s only on iTunes until October 13 (after which it gets a physical release through Island Records), they predict it will only shift 150,000 units.

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