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ShareDigital karma strikes for U2!

Way waaay back in 2010 U2 frontman Bono annoyed many within the industry with his ranting warnings about the ‘evils of the Internet’ and he put the blame firmly in the hands of us ‘greedy ISP types.’

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

He was of course talking about piracy stating “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us — and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.” “Rich service providers” and “swollen profits”- we wish!

In response we, amongst other ISPs and industry bodies, argued that rather than blame the Internet for the downfall of their industry and continue to fight against it, artists should embrace the opportunities it can bring and utilise it to help distribute and promote their work. After all, the Internet is just the latest vehicle for piracy and copyright infringement – kids had been recording direct from the radio and duplicating tapes long before the days of the World Wide Web! However, despite our best efforts, our advice appeared to go unheard and the debate continued on.

The best bit!

In an interesting twist, U2 appeared at last week’s Apple conference where they surprised everyone and announced their latest album would be automatically downloaded for FREE by all Apple users, forcing their music upon unsuspecting customers via their iTunes accounts. Maybe they did listen after all and this was their attempt to ‘embrace’ technology?

Unfortunately for U2 (and Apple) this announcement wasn’t well received, with huge backlash from Apple’s customers who have since requested a way to remove the automatic download and avoid being subjected to the U2 tunes. Apple have since obliged and provided a free ‘one-click U2 removal tool’.

Lessons learned?

Perhaps Bono brought this on himself with his previous whinges and moans to a predominantly tech savvy audience who understand (better than he does) the benefits and opportunities the Internet can provide (if it’s done well). This attempt at utilising ‘new’ distribution channels didn’t pay off for U2 this time but many other artists have had much more favourable results over recent years. Lots of younger artists have been discovered thanks to sites such as YouTube, which have enabled them to share and distribute their music to a wider audience.

Will the entertainment industry learn from this and start to ‘embrace’ technology instead of continuing to fight against it? We doubt it! Let’s see what they throw at us next – it will probably be when the toothless VCAP fails to resolve the ‘piracy’ problem and they will once again call for ‘disconnection’ and ‘prosecution’.

Have your say!

Do you think ISPs should do more to help fight against copyright infringement or do you think it’s the entertainment industry’s responsibility? Do you think embracing the new distribution opportunities the Internet can provide will help artists or hinder them? Have your say by leaving us a comment below.

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