U2 free album on iTunes (image 001)

The controversial U2 album ‘Songs of Innocence’ has been downloaded nearly 30 million times since Apple announced it would be available to iTunes users for free last month. In a statement to Billboard on Thursday, senior VP Eddy Cue said that the album had racked up 26 million ‘complete downloads’ since its September 9 debut.

Cue adds that over 81 million Apple customers have experienced Songs of Innocence within the last month—a number that includes Beats Music, iTunes, and iTunes Radio streams. “To help put this into perspective,” Cue says, “prior to this, a total of 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since iTunes opened in 2003.”

Billboard was also able to get a statement from U2, who said “Apple is a tech company fighting to get musicians paid. The idea that they wanted to make a gift to the very people that actually purchase music is both beautiful and poetic, and for that we are very grateful.” The pair are already rumored to be working on another new project.

Despite early criticism from users, who felt that Apple forced them to download something without their permission, it appears that in the end, the Songs of Innocence giveaway was a success. A physical deluxe edition of the album, which features 10 additional bonus tracks (unavailable on iTunes), will hit retail shelves on October 16.


  • Virus

    would be on 1,000 if they gave us a choice instead put auto putting it on

    • Screenphile

      BS. While I was able to download the album, it wouldn’t have made any difference. It amazes me that some people–with all the real problems we have to deal with–manage to turn a rose to turd.

  • Chris

    *downloaded – latest Apple invention of FORCE-PUSH 🙂

  • Jason Baroni

    26 out of 500 million… though Apple pushed people to download it, not every one has this musical taste, too. I doubt U2 would sell the same amount legally without them.

  • Is that the number of actual downloads or number of divices it was pushed to? I noticed my old 4S has it installed and I didn’t even click anything.

    • Since Apple is using the terminology “downloaded” I’d assume these numbers are people that have actually tapped the cloud icon in the Music app next to the album in order to download it…

      • Justice and Malice

        Yes. This.

      • Either way it has been “downloaded” by many whether they clicked it or not…

      • iRy757

        Yeah, the many who choose to have automatic downloads enabled under their Apple ID device settings.

      • A download is a download…

      • Brian May

        Depends what the meaning of is, is. Lol

  • Warmachine69

    I was going to buy the album before anyway so 🙂

    • Andy

      Kinda funny that the physical copy of the album has more tracks when it’s usually iTunes that gets the exclusive bonus tracks. I guess the extra songs weren’t part of the deal and they needed a reason to convince people to get the real album since the normal track list was offered to every single person with an Apple ID.

  • Donstil

    From a very reliable source I heard that from this 26 million downloads there where 17 people who actually did it by choice :p

    • iRy757

      Post source or it didn’t happen.

  • Andres

    Forcefully downloaded that is

  • Everyone’s pissed about this album, but personally, I love it! I’m constantly listening to it

  • Wesh

    Are you guys saying that some people got the actual audio files on there iDevices? So not just that iCloud icon that you’d have to click in order to actually download it onto your device, but actually immediatly the full album taking up space?

    The way I understood and experienced it, it was only available in the Cloud for everyone to download only if they wished to do so.
    If it was like that, then I don’t get what the fuss is all about.

    If it actually got downloaded automatically for alot of peeps, then I get it. That’s a bit creepy.

  • Stefano

    Yeah but where’s the data supporting it remains on their iDevices

  • Frandy Goh

    it is just there in my iphone.. i dont even want it..

  • Umut Bilgiç

    Haha dispite all this critisism I am really liking this album and thanking apple for it

  • Alejandro Maximo Marez

    Half of us never wanted it… Sorry Bono