Neil Young isn’t the only rock legend attempting to change the way we listen to music. Fresh off the surprise release of Songs of Innocence, U2 and Apple are reportedly working on a new digital music format that, according to Time, “will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music — whole albums as well as individual tracks.”
“I think it’s going to get very exciting for the music business,” Bono said (via Billboard), adding that the format will be “an audiovisual interactive format for music that can’t be pirated and will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way, where you can play with the lyrics and get behind the songs when you’re sitting on the subway with your iPad or on these big flat screens. You can see photography like you’ve never seen it before.”
A digital format that “can’t be pirated” is perhaps the main selling point, as both illegal downloading, legal streaming and sites like YouTube have all chipped away the music industry from a sales perspective, leading to some record lows during the month of August.
According to Bono, this new digital format is “about 18 months away,” which could potentially align it with U2’s planned Innocence follow-up Songs of Experience. While one of the biggest bands on the planet are championing this new format, the files are more likely to help younger, lesser-known artists than the stadium fillers, as the format gives listeners incentive to actually buy music. “Songwriters aren’t touring people,” Bono said. “Cole Porter wouldn’t have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn’t coming to a stadium near you.”
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Although Songs of Innocence should be allowed to flourish through repeat listens, as Bono said in his open letter to fans, because of its sudden and egalitarian album release, there has been an equally immediate wave of opinions about the free LP from both critics, industry insiders and the public. “It’s like everyone’s vomiting whatever their first impression is,” bassist Adam Clayton said about some of the backlash Songs of Innocence has faced.