U2 giveaway fails to deliver catalogue bonanza
Just 60 additional albums sold on the High Street as promotion devalues music and excludes millions
16 September 2014: U2's much-publicised
decision to give away 500m copies of their new album around the
world resulted in sales of just 6,047 additional copies of their
19-album back catalogue in the UK last week, according to
Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) analysis of Official
Charts Company data.
And less than 60 of them went through High Street stores.
ERA Chairman Paul Quirk said, "This vindicates our view that
giving away hundreds of millions of albums simply devalues music
and runs the risk of alienating the 60% of the population who are
not customers of iTunes.
"If one of the justifications of this stunt is that it would
drive sales of U2's catalogue through the market as a whole, then
so far at least it has been a dismal failure."
Aggregate sales of U2's catalogue amounted to 697 albums across
Great Britain and Northern Ireland the week before the band
announced it would give away 500m copies of their latest album,
Songs Of Innocence. Last week they amounted to 6,744, a
massive 868% increase, but worth at retail prices less than
Of those sales, a massive 95.4% were digital downloads, since
physical retailers were not briefed in advance to order in extra
Said Quirk, "This promotion is a failure on so many levels. It
devalues music, it alienates the majority of people who don't use
iTunes and it disappoints those who prefer to shop in physical
stores since few shops had U2 stock available.
"Giving away music like this is as damaging to the value of
music as piracy, and those who will suffer most are the artists of
tomorrow. U2 have had their career, but if one of the biggest rock
bands in the world are prepared to give away their new album for
free, how can we really expect the public to spend £10 on an album
by a newcomer?"
Independent research conducted for ERA indicates that more than
60% of the UK public does not use iTunes.
For U2's last album, No Line On The Horizon,
87% of UK sales in the first month were on physical formats,
according to Official Charts Company data.
"Dumping an album in hundreds of millions of iTunes libraries
whether people want it or not, reduces music to the level of a
software update or a bug-fix or just plain spam," said
For more information, contact Steve Redmond - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) represents
digital, internet and bricks and mortar entertainment retailers of
every type from download and streaming services to Britain's
biggest supermarkets to small independents. Innovation and
investment by ERA's 170 members in the UK's £5.2bn entertainment
market has ensured that the UK has among the highest per capita
consumption of music, video and games in the world.
Entertainment Retailers Association