A few months ago I posted a blog entitled,”Why is Everyone Mad at U2?”;- discussing the surprising blow back from Apple gifting digital copies of the bands latest release,”Songs of Innocence.” In the piece I noted Sharon Osbourne was particularly vocal, and in my opinion hypocritical, in her criticism of the band on Twitter stating . “U2 you are business moguls not musicians anymore. No wonder you have to give your mediocre music away for free cause no one wants to buy it.” For my full blog post go to: http://wp.me/p4kPiy-69
Last week both Sharon and Ozzy appeared on the Sirium XM’s “Opie and Jimmy Show” to discuss upcoming projects including Ozzfiesta, a possible special to commemorate the anniversary of their realty show, and the future of Black Sabbath. During the interview the subject of Sharon’s recent thoughts on U2 came up, although Sharon noted after she made her initial remarks, the members of U2 sent Ozzy a “lovely” hand written note. Her issue was not with the band but she felt calling the album a “gift to the world” deceptive because the band was paid by Apple, rather than recording the album for free.
A video of the interview is below, U2 question is around the 22 min mark.
Sharon’s issue is more of a business issue, making it sound when massive artists like U2 give away their music for free it does a disservice for new struggling artists to be heard. With all due respect to Sharon, who is a savvy businesswoman and mogul in the recording industry, as a consumer I strongly disagree. To reiterate my point in my first post on this subject, record labels gouged customers by overcharging on albums (in all forms) for years and still do. Record labels devalued their own product by creating an inflated market for it and then trying to over saturate their target market. The advent of MP3s and digital music dealt a significant blow to the industry in a way corporate music labels still haven’t recovered from. Case in point, the new AC/DC album debuted as the best selling rock album last week,but sales were a third of their prior release. Record labels profit more off of licensing the music to movies, commercials, video games, and other mediums then to the actual music sales. I surmise this is why its’ so damn expensive to purchase an actual concert ticket these days.
Consumers themselves have become apathetic to music as well. High School and College students, who were once the top customer for record labels, are now opting for services like Spotify or Pandora rather than owning an actual album. Music is no longer a valuable piece of cultural currency rather it is a disposable commodity used to sell cars and life insurance. This is why as a consumer and music appreciator I will gladly download a free album by one of my favorite artists just as I won’t for an artist I don’t care for. In a case like this, where Apple, pre-loaded the next release of IOS with the album, I can understand if someone feels something is being forced on them but you can either quietly delete it or hit the skip button. This is hardly the first time a mp3 player or phone came pre-loaded with an album or track. Rather than cause a stir, I would like to see how other artists of the same magnitude promote their music in new ways.
In closing, let me make special mention Sharon and Ozzy have been trail blazers in introducing new artists to the public, often using Ozzfest as a way to expose upcoming bands to music fans around the world. If anyone in this business knows how to bring new artists to the forefront it’s Sharon Osbourne.
Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. Not only does he love the new U2 Album, he is very excited to see them live this summer at Madison Square Garden!