Bono Recalls U2’s Favour To Steve Jobs And Apple

Partnerships between musical acts and big companies are common in the industry since they provide an additional income source and help bands reach a broader audience. U2 also collaborated with Apple in 2004, but their priority was not money, as Bono revealed in an excerpt from his upcoming memoir ‘Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,’ published by the Guardian.

One of the defining characteristics of rock music is rebellion against mainstream culture, and thus, collaborations between rock acts and corporations have been a matter of dispute. While they enable musicians to reach more people, they have also attracted criticism from the rock scene, such as when Korn’s David Silveria modeled for Calvin Klein. Thus, Bono wanted to tread lightly when making a deal with Apple.

“‘Actually, Steve,’ I said. ‘We don’t want cash. We just want to be in the iPod commercial,'” wrote Bono, talking about their intention to get into a business partnership with Steve Jobs and Apple. “Steve was thrown. The spots contained only the dancing silhouettes of music fans, their heads holding those iconic white earbuds, white arteries pumping the music from tiny MP3 players now called iPods.”

So, U2 didn’t expect payment from Apple, and they just wanted ‘Vertigo‘ to appear in a commercial. Steve Jobs didn’t turn down such an offer, but the band’s manager still had a request from Apple. “‘There’s one other thing,’ added Paul McGuinness. ‘Although the band are not looking for cash, some Apple stock, even a symbolic amount, might be a courtesy.'”

“‘Sorry,’ said Steve. ‘That’s a dealbreaker. ‘Well,’ I tentatively suggested. ‘How about our own iPod? A customized U2 iPod in black and red?'” Bono asked, resulting in the production of the iPod U2 Special Edition, featuring the autographs of the U2 band members.

This partnership marked the first time that U2 agreed to license their music for commercial use, hoping it would give them a chance to introduce themselves to a younger audience. Thus, ‘Vertigo,’ the first single of 2004’s ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,’ became an international hit with the help of the television advertisement for Apple’s iPod. In addition, a special edition U2-branded iPod, cast in black with a red click wheel and having a digital box set that included all of the band’s albums, was also released.