Photo: Getty Images / Brad Barket
When rock band U2 partnered with Apple back in 2004, it was a bit of a surprise because U2 had never before licensed its music for use in a commercial, as it did for Apple’s iPod.In Chuck Klosterman’s “Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas,” his essay on U2 reveals what inspired the band’s partnership with Apple.
“The company that best exemplifies the marriage of technology and pop culture is Apple,” Bono told Klosterman in 2004. “They understand music. They like the art object.”
U2 also felt very strongly about the iPod and its potential in the music industry.
“The iPod is probably the greatest pop object since the electric guitar,” Bono said. “We—as a band—feel strongly about the iPod. We—as a band—talked about the idea for an iPod years ago.”
As part of the partnership, Apple created a U2-branded iPod, offered U2’s single “Vertigo” exclusively through the iTunes store, produced an iPod commercial featuring U2, and created the first-ever digital box set featuring all of U2’s albums.
At the time, Klosterman found it a bit odd that the leader of a rock band was talking about partnering with a computer company. But Bono said that the band wanted to do it because they like Apple, and Bono was personally a huge fan of Steve Jobs.
“It’s art, commerce, and technology colliding,” Bono said—a sentiment he repeated when Apple went on to launch a special-edition U2 iPod.
The lovefest didn’t last: Bono went on to back Palm, a competing smartphone maker, through Elevation Partners, a private-equity firm. And then in 2009, RIM—remember RIM?—sponsored a U2 tour.
Check out the now iconic iPod commercial featuring U2 below.
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