Bono Backs Off Songs Of Innocence Apology, Defends Spotify

After U2 suffered massive backlash for sliding Songs Of Innocence into everyone’s iTunes library without permission, Bono apologized for the stunt in a Facebook Q&A. His comments to journalist David Carr at Dublin’s Web Summit tech conference this week were far less apologetic. He even called the album’s surprise free iTunes release “one of the proudest things for us ever.” Here’s an excerpt from Billboard’s report:

“It’s one of the proudest things for us ever,” Bono said of the headline-grabbing September promotion. “We always wanted our music to be heard, and the idea that we could have worked for years and years [on] what we think are the most personal songs that we have ever written — and you have to become very raw to write like that — only then for them maybe not to be heard was terrifying. So we were just thrilled that we got a chance to introduce ourselves to people who weren’t fans of listening to rock music, or people that listen to Bhangra in India, or whatever, all around the world.

“Two figures arrived out of that,” he continued, “100 million people checked us out and listened to two or three tracks. And 30 million people actually listened to the whole album. So we did in three weeks with Songs Of Innocence what took us 30 years with The Joshua Tree.”

Bono also took the stance that all press is good press:

“We got a lot of people who were uninterested in U2 to be mad with U2. And I would call that an improvement in the relationship,” he said to loud laughter and applause from the audience.

Finally, he disputed the notion (perpetuated by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason among others) that U2 devalued their music by giving it away for free, trotting out again the argument that Apple paid U2 for the music because music is a sacrament:

“And we were paid,” the singer continued when the cheering died down. “No one values music more than me or the members of U2. To us, music is a sacrament. It’s a sacred thing. I think artists should be paid way more than they are, but the greatest way to serve your songs is to get them heard. I’m already paid too much. I’m a spoiled rotten, overpaid, over-nourished rock star. One of the reasons I haven’t been vocal about music artists [getting fair payment] is that I know I’m the wrong spokesperson for this. But I have to tell you, if I were starting a band now, aged 17 or 18, I would be very excited.”

Bono sure does take a lot of confusing stances! He also defended Spotify, saying, “It’s an experimental period, so let’s experiment. Let’s see what works.” Obviously he doesn’t share Taylor Swift’s reservations about letting his music be part of a “grand experiment.” Read more from the Web Summit here.

[Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images.]

Tags: Bono, Spotify, U2