U2 releases album for free on iTunes

The announcement was made at Apple's press conference on Tuesday

Published September 9, 2014 7:44PM (EDT)

  (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

At Apple's Tuesday press conference in Cupertino, California, CEO Tim Cook revealed the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch, iOS 8 and, rather unexpectedly, U2's latest album.

Rolling Stone reports:

U2 surprised the world today by releasing Songs of Innocence, their first album in five years, as a gift from Apple, available for free immediately to anyone with iTunes. The band made the announcement with Apple CEO Tim Cook at a Cupertino press conference for the new iPhone 6, capping the event with a performance of the album's first single, "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)." After a standing ovation, Cook said, "Wasn't that the most incredible single you ever heard? We would love a whole album of that."

"With this, we wanted to wait until we had one that was as good as our very best work," Bono said. "The question is now, how do we get it to as many people as possible, because that's what our band is all about. I think you can help us."

"I do believe you have over half a billion subscribers to iTunes, so — could you get this to them?" "If we gave it away for free," Cook replied. And five seconds later, the album was released.

"From the very beginning U2 have always wanted our music to reach as many people as possible," said the band's lead singer, Bono. "The clue is in our name I suppose - -so today is kind of mind-blowing to us. The most personal album we've written could be shared with half a billion people by hitting send. If only songwriting was that easy ... It's exciting and humbling to think that people who don't know U2 or listen to rock music, for that matter, might check us out. Working with Apple is always a blast. They only want to do things that haven't been done before -- that's a thrill to be a part of."

"Songs of Innocence" is available for free to the approximately 500 million iTunes users in 119 countries now.

By Joanna Rothkopf

MORE FROM Joanna Rothkopf

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Apple Itunes Songs Of Innocence U2