Bono reveals why U2 are giving away their new album for “free”

The long-awaited follow-up to U2’s No Line on the Horizon (2009) is now available for free via iTunes, iTunes Radio, or Beats Music until October 13. It’s called Songs of Innocence and it dropped overnight at an Apple event in California, which saw a live performance of its first track ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)’. Watch below.

The free release coincides with the 10-year anniversary of U2’s iPod commercial – feeling old yet? – with Bono detailing the reasons for putting it out this way via a note posted to the band’s website. Titled “Remember Us?”, it reveals that Apple has actually bought the album as a gift to its customers. “Free, but paid for,” Bono writes. “Because if no-one’s paying anything for it, we’re not sure ‘free’ music is really that free. It usually comes at a cost to the art form and the artist… which has big implications, not for us in U2, but for future musicians and their music… all the songs that have yet to be written by the talents of the future… who need to make a living to write them.”

He says part of the motivation for releasing it this way – aside from the presumably lucrative Apple dollars – is to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. “In the next 24 hours, over a half a billion people are going to have Songs of Innocence… should they choose to check it out. That is so exciting. People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library. Country fans, hip hop afficionados from east LA, electro poppers from Seoul, Bhangra fans from New Delhi, Highlifers in Accra… might JUST be tempted to check us out, even for a moment. What a mind blowing, head scratching, 21st century situation.”

Songs of Innocence was recorded in three cities – Dublin, Los Angeles, and New York – with production from Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood. Lykke Li guests on a tracked called ‘The Troubles’. “I hope after listening to our new long player a few times, you’ll understand why it took so long,” Bono says. “We really went there… it’s a very, very personal album.”

He says the band have more collaborations planned with Apple – whose CEO Tim Cook called this event “the largest album release of all time” – over the next few years. ”[These] innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed.”

Songs of Innocence cover art:

Songs of Innocence tracklist:

The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)

Every Breaking Wave

California (There Is No End To Love)

Song For Someone

Iris (Hold Me Close)


Raised By Wolves

Cedarwood Road

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight

This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now

The Troubles