Apple, U2 reportedly working on secret new digital music format

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2014
U2's new collaboration with Apple appears to run deeper than the recent exclusive release of the band's new Songs of Innocence album on iTunes, as the Irish rockers are said to be working alongside the iPhone maker to create a new digital music format.



Though details are nowhere to be found, U2 frontman Bono believes that the new format will spur a resurgence of buying music, rather than streaming or illegally downloading tracks. He told Time that recent arguments for streaming and looking the other way on piracy --?that they spur sales of tickets for live concert tours --?don't take into account the needs of less well-known artists.

"Songwriters aren't touring people," Bono said in an interview. "Cole Porter wouldn't have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn't coming to a stadium near you."

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was apparently keen to the idea of a new high-definition digital music format, as Canadian rock legend Neil Young revealed in 2012 that the two were working together on such a project. Young said the new format would have offered fans uncompromised studio quality sound in the form of digital music downloads, but Young apparently decided to go in his own separate direction, releasing the Pono music player and accompanying download service earlier this year.

U2 has long collaborated with Apple on consumer-facing products like the U2-edition iPod and Product (Red) accessories, but the group was reportedly rebuffed for more in-depth partnerships under late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Bono indicated as much in 2009 when the group signed a deal with Canadian smartphone makers BlackBerry.

"I'm very excited about this," he said at the time. "Research In Motion is going to give us what Apple wouldn't -- access to their labs and their people so we can do something really spectacular."

Apple's tune seems to have changed under new CEO Tim Cook, who has led the company in a much more open direction. The recent $3 billion acquisition of headphone maker Beats and Apple's new enterprise tie-up with former blood rival IBM are prime examples of this change of course, which also includes more transparency on issues like privacy.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 99

    This is all fine and good, but please pick a band that people care about :)

  • Reply 2 of 99
    I don't think Bono is interested in anything other than promoting his personal projects (which is fine, by the way...he's a business person also), so it's probably a benefit concert, U2-branded product, or cross-promotion for Product RED.
  • Reply 3 of 99
    This is all fine and good, but please pick a band that people care about :)

    1) I'd think a new digital format would be for all bands on iTunes. Perhaps it's to find a way to finally push digital music sales even further with a higher quality and/or a lower file size.

    2) One thing I always Apple failed at doing is recreating the experience with the album. Same goes for DVDs with interactive elements and extras.
  • Reply 4 of 99
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,101member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by locker 8755 View Post

     

    This is all fine and good, but please pick a band that people care about :)




    Yes, we all live in our own little universe where everybody likes the same bands, the same food, the same books. So we jump to conclusions about what other people feel. I can assure you there are countless millions of fans who do indeed care about U2.

     

    I put your comment in the same category of people who comment about mobile carriers and how AT&T sucks while T-Mobile is great, how AT&T is great and Sprint sucks, how Verizon’s hind end leaks buttermilk and (insert carrier) is the cat’s meow.

  • Reply 5 of 99

    If streaming services are hurting the bottom line of artists and labels, why are they continuing to support streaming services?

  • Reply 6 of 99
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by locker 8755 View Post

     

    This is all fine and good, but please pick a band that people care about :)


     

    Is picking U2 reflective of how "Apple" sees itself? Was this an unconscious decision reflective of how leadership sees the company? That's how I see it.

     

    Apple once hip and progressive and all that and somewhat of a niche, but getting older and less relevant. (I hope not).

     

    With that said, Apple may become irrelevant as newer companies transform technology. Not too long ago, you could keep up with technological changes, but these days it is overwhelming. There is going to be tremendous disruption in business due to the tons of technological discoveries. It would not be a surprise to see Apple impacted like IBM and Microsoft.

     

    For me, I don't watch the keynotes anymore. I see Tim Cook becoming too self-reflective of Apple and the company becoming staid. Jobs was always about tremendous disruption and very iconoclastic.

     

    Apple is losing its iconoclastic view. It is changing as it gets older and bigger. Just my feeling about the company as I've used their products since the Apple II.

  • Reply 7 of 99
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,101member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    1) I'd think a new digital format would be for all bands on iTunes. Perhaps it's to find a way to finally push digital music sales even further with a higher quality and/or a lower file size.



    2) One thing I always Apple failed at doing is recreating the experience with the album. Same goes for DVDs with interactive elements and extras.



    I don’t think it will have anything to do with higher quality encoding or smaller file size. Your second speculation is more likely. This will be about improving the experience and recreating the album as the default choice.

  • Reply 8 of 99
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,101member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pfisher View Post

     

     

    Is picking U2 reflective of how "Apple" sees itself? Was this an unconscious decision reflective of how leadership sees the company? That's how I see it.

     

    Apple once hip and progressive and all that and somewhat of a niche, but getting older and less relevant. (I hope not).

     

    With that said, Apple may become irrelevant as newer companies transform technology. Not too long ago, you could keep up with technological changes, but these days it is overwhelming. There is going to be tremendous disruption in business due to the tons of technological discoveries. It would not be a surprise to see Apple impacted like IBM and Microsoft.

     

    For me, I don't watch the keynotes anymore. I see Tim Cook becoming too self-reflective of Apple and the company becoming staid. Jobs was always about tremendous disruption and very iconoclastic.

     

    Apple is losing its iconoclastic view. It is changing as it gets older and bigger. Just my feeling about the company as I've used their products since the Apple II.




    Well, some people always see the glass as half-empty. Others see things getting better with age, like Jennifer Aniston.

  • Reply 9 of 99
    redhotfuzz wrote: »
    If streaming services are hurting the bottom line of artists and labels, why are they continuing to support streaming services?

    The real money is in merchandising, touring and licensing music rights for advertising and entertainment. There is typically very little profit in the actual sales of music to consumers unless one has a massive hit. Why? Competition. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people with millions of songs competing for attention.
  • Reply 10 of 99
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member

    I hope Apple x Bono x Beats do a Pono.

     

    If they are serious about music.

     

    It is all about the sound.

     

    Blow me away Apple.

  • Reply 11 of 99

    I can't wait to see Bono's contribution to an audio codec and compression whitepaper.

  • Reply 12 of 99
    mr o wrote: »
    I hope Apple x Bono x Beats do a Pono.

    If they are serious about music.

    It is all about the sound.

    Blow me away Apple.

    There would be no benefit to Apple to support the Pono hardware. That's an extremely small niche to consider.
  • Reply 13 of 99
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Though details are nowhere to be found, U2 frontman Bono believes that the new format will spur a resurgence of buying music, rather than streaming or illegally downloading tracks.

    Good luck with that.

  • Reply 14 of 99
    For some reason I think this may be a music social network similar to bandcamp or soundcloud. How else will small bands that don't tour benefit and/or make money from a "new format"?

    Ping 2.0?
  • Reply 15 of 99

    We have ALAC. What else could the world possibly need?

  • Reply 16 of 99
    blackbook wrote: »
    For some reason I think this may be a music social network similar to bandcamp or soundcloud. How else will small bands that don't tour benefit and/or make money from a "new format"?

    Ping 2.0?

    The only way I can think of some benefit for songwriters would be in the way music is licensed. Perhaps songwriters will register their music through Apple and Apple will act as licensing and royalty agent, replacing BMI and ASCAP. Only by becoming a self-publisher of music (lyrics and compositions) do songwriters have any influence over the use of their own work.
  • Reply 17 of 99
    Track 3 on the new album is called "California (there is no end to love)".
    Sounds more like the in depth collaboration to me :)
  • Reply 18 of 99
    We have ALAC. What else could the world possibly need?

    A lossless codec is nice but it would be great if we could get both the sizes and processing requirements of decoding lossless reduced significantly. That area hasn't really moved much in over a decade.
  • Reply 19 of 99
    virtua wrote: »
    Track 3 on the new album is called "California (there is no end to love)".
    Sounds more like the in depth collaboration to me :)

    And Andre "Dr. Dre" Young is now a part of Apple.


    [VIDEO]


    PS: Posting this Tupac song because I like it:
  • Reply 20 of 99
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    The real money is in merchandising, touring and licensing music rights for advertising and entertainment. There is typically very little profit in the actual sales of music to consumers unless one has a massive hit. Why? Competition. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people with millions of songs competing for attention.

    That sounds very "Amazon". And you're right, a big issue is competition for attention which could have a source in overcrowding which in turn leads to a wide range of quality from creative domain to actual production. And in this process there might be tons of money and time wasted. Well, not exactly wasted but charged upfront by studios in every production, just in case nobody buys the final product.

     

    The question is how to even the terrain so people can sift out what matters, regardless of whatever genre you like, and at the same time reducing overhead costs? Should that happen, everybody wins. I think there are good opportunities for music industry through discovery tools/process.

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