U2’s Bono talks 885 million iTunes accounts, new music format, and ‘haters’

“Over the weekend, U2 frontman Bono sat down for an interview with Dave Fanning on the Irish radio station 2FM where the two discussed a wide range of topics,” Yoni Heisler reports for TUAW. “While the interview mostly centered on the band’s new album, Bono took some time to touch on a few Apple related items.”

Some snippets of Bono’s comments:

• The same people who used to write on toilet walls when we were kids are now in the blogosphere. The blogosphere is enough to put you off of democracy [laughs]. But no, let people have their say. Why not? They’re the haters, we’re the lovers, we’re never going to agree.

• No one has deleted more U2 songs in the last 5 years than the 4 members of U2.

• Why can’t I use my phone or my iPad to disappear into a world created by artists with photography? If we want to listen to Miles Davis in a silent way, why can’t we have the photographs of Herman Leonard playing in the background while we do it? Or, with another click find out what mood he was in when he made that? Or with lyrics, why can’t we read Bob Dylan’s lyrics while we’re listening to his music at a certain point in time? … 5 years ago I began a conversation with Steve Jobs at my house in France and I said to Steve: “How is it that for a person who cares about the way things look and feel more than anyone else in the world that iTunes looks like a spreadsheet?” …So he made a promise to me that we would work on this together, and with the team at Apple we’ve been doing it for years, and it’s not ready yet for Songs of Innocence, it will be ready for Songs of Experience.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iTunes LP redux for iOS?

Visuals can be great, but, for most people, most of the time that they are listening to music, they are doing something else with their eyes, like driving, exercising, dancing, or working. It might seem to someone in the music industry like Bono that people will consider what he’s working on with Apple to be indispensable. They will not. If you try to force album-only sales, people will simply pirate music.

So far, every concoction meant to goose sales of forced bundles, what the music biz calls an “album,” have failed. iTunes LP? Most people have no idea what that even is.

No amount of visual doodads this side of “celebrity nudes” (and no, Bono, don’t get any bright ideas!) are going to change the fact that most of the time people listen to music, they are doing something else with their eyes.


  1. Interface, Interface, interface… I don’t know about most people, but iTunes is clunky and I dunno… Doesn’t seem like an Apple product with how hard it can be to use sometimes…

    1. The problem is that iTunes was designed for a time when all of its users were on some level “curators”. Filling in dates, genres, ripping movies and music, making playlists, collecting TV shows.

      Most iTunes users today don’t have the patience for that. And it’s not how they use media. Most are now wired for a Netflix approach: “You have it, I’m looking for it. I trust it will be there for me the next time I go looking.”

      I love a good playlist, but I just don’t bother to compile them anymore. Genius Playlists are great, but they’re bolted on to an overall framework that needs a re-think.

    2. iTunes works perfectly fine for me.
      Only issues I have had with it is with home sharing taking forever to load sometimes. These last updates have fixed the problem, for now anyways.

      1. iTunes is overdue for a big revision instead of these minor fixes that have us scratching our heads thinking “now where did they move that feature?”

        I’ve been begging Apple for the ability to be able to move TV shows and movies to separate drives for years while keeping audio on the internal drive. I’m not holding my breath.

        1. I have all my media on an external drive.

          Any purchased stuff can be moved as well IF you do it manualy.

          I do agree with the “where the Hell did they move that” part lol
          99% of iTunes works great for me. (Now)

        2. You’re right, iTunes is a mess. They tried to simplify it by hiding stuff, that doesn’t make any sense to me, just makes it more confusing. I turned all the sidebar shit back on and it looks the same way it did before now.

          1. I read a while back that iTunes would be broken into several separate applications. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but nothing has happened so far.

            It’s been around for a long time without any great changes so breaking it up may be a good thing. At least it might make it easier to troubleshoot and configure.

  2. MDN needs to remember that real art, high art, has always only appealed to the 1% minority. Bono and Steve Jobs were talking about music as a high art experience. When I was young, in the late 60s and early 70s, music was high art, the whole experience of buying and indulging in a new Stones, Who, Tull, or Zeppelin album was the same experience as those who first witnessed a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo. Remember: even if it’s only 1%, it’s still millions of people who will appreciate the iTunes LP high art of Bono and others.

    1. I’m from the same period, and I have to answer: “Not really”.

      I bought the LP, listened to the music, and either liked it or not.

      But maybe I’m different in that I never got hung up on “stars” and “fame”. If the music was good then I liked it. If it wasn’t I wasn’t going to listen to it anymore. Didn’t matter who made it.

      I simply never bought into that “star” worship thing, I’d rather judge something by how it is, not by who made it.

      1. In either case there were a large number of people who had time to sit and listen to music. Listening to music was a “foreground” activity for them.

        Now we’re all doing other stuff, and listening to music while doing it.

        Back then, most people had stereo speakers pointed to a listening position for listening to music. Today the only place you see that it’s paired with a 50″ screen.

  3. Do I really care what the artist thought or felt when he created the music?

    Or what he ate, drank, bought, consumed, …?

    The music is the important thing, not the musician.

    Clear cut case of someone taking himself too important.

    1. Yeah. Sad you think so.
      I’m one of the 1%.
      Can I care what you think listening to the music… nothing?
      Well, what, should I care?…

      Clear cut case of a consumer taking himself too important.

      1. I bet neither of you two Miles lovers are in the “background noise” line of music listening. For some artists, it is art, and to be taken on its own, with attention, not just playing while doing something else. At least not the first time through. Or the second in the case of good jazz (or whatever you like).

        I’m only my 3rd time through the new U2 album, and it isn’t doing it for me. I’m a fan, but this album falls flat for me so far.

        1. My musical tastes are all over the place. I happen to think Brian Eno (invented “background” Ambient genre) is one of the great musical geniuses of all time. I can go from Miles Davis (Bitches Brew is sublime) to Eno to Philip Glass (ever listen to Koyaanisqatsi? 😉 ) to Jeff Beck quite easily.

          I agree with you about the U2 album. I always joke U2 would make a great instrumental band. I like some of their stuff but this is the beauty of iTunes: I can buy the songs i like and forget the rest. I think it’s cool I got the new album free. I’ll listen to it and enjoy it.

          But music, like art in general is in the ears of the beholder. It’s gotta hit the right nerve at the right time or, well, meh…

  4. I have to disagree with Bono. I don’t really care what the artist was thinking about when he created the art. Do I really want to know what was going through Van Gough’s head right before he cut off his ear? No thanks.

    I care how the music, photos, etc. make ME feel. We relate music especially to times in our lives, be they love, hate, sadness, fun. Plus, do we really need another reason for people to walk around looking at their phones all the time?

  5. Maybe I’m in the minority but I love to learn the background stories of music. It makes me understand much better what the music and lyrics are trying to communicate..which in turn makes the music more meaningful to me.

    1. He’s a highly successful Rock musician, of course he has a big ego, you don’t get successful like that otherwise.
      Musicians with no ego tend not to be successful in the mainstream.

  6. I have to agree with most of the comments in this page. I do like to read the back story on some songs, but once is enough. If the backpage is so important, put it on wikipedia.

  7. From my POV: iTunes LP has rarely taken full advantage of what’s possible. One I know of that is excellent is the .itpl created for Bryan Ferry’s ‘Olympia’ (Deluxe version) album. It’s everything Bono is talking about:

    – Users can pour through it while the music plays.
    – Play the entire LP
    – Or play individual songs
    – Read essays related to the making of the album
    – Look through a photo gallery related to the album
    – Stop the music and watch videos: This includes a Making Of video, an official song video and a remix video
    – Read the credits

    The only thing not in Ferry’s ITLP is the lyrics and that’s by choice.

    The ITLP files can literally be an entire iBook, with all the media bells and whistles that format offers.

    So what is Bono going on about?! I cannot comprehend what’s the BFD he wants instead.

  8. I completely agree with MDN’s take on this. People listen to music while doing other shit, because it puts them in a groove to get shit done or makes a boring task more enjoyable and entertaining.

    Some might argue that other stuff going on in YouTube videos seem to be a hit, but half the time when I open a song on YouTube I don’t even watch the video, I just start it and then go back to doing other stuff just listening to it in the background the same way I do my mp3’s.

    Whatever they are working on, I hope it’s just as simple to also continue to enjoy our music the way we already do.

  9. I have spent the last 10 years working with Apples help on the iTunes LP format it will become the defacto format for albums the big problem right now is the technical hurdles that normal music makers need to grasp as its seriously more complex than it should be for the everyday artist. Im not sure what this new format Bono is on about but i think its just an update of the iTunes LP format hopefully it will include more artist centric connections to selling merchandise via iTunes ? I am just about to deliver 6 albums in the iTunes LP format to Apple and will see if anything is changing check my web to see what can be done in the iTune LP format to make albums really extra special and more immersive than a throw away MP3.

    1. Sadly, since the mp3 format became popular, most people have gotten away from buying whole albums and only buy the songs they like. Even old folks like me who have huge collections of vinyl still remember buying a great many albums that had one, two or three good songs on them and the rest were just wasted plastic. Do you think the LP format can survive in these days of cherry picking?

      I’ve already purchased all the classics and would not be willing to put my money down again for, say, Dark Side of the Moon just to get some liner notes.

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