"[T]he two most important ingredients of rock: the forbidden and the mysterious."
Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-725
May 29, 2016
Only a few days are left in the African Well Fund’s “Build A Well For Bono’s Birthday” campaign. It goes through June 1. After making a donation, don’t forget to sign Bono’s birthday card. The fine folks at the African Well Fund will make a handcrafted card with everyone’s well wishes (get it? well…wishes…ha!) and it will make its way to the B-man himself. He’s said it’s his favorite birthday gift every year!
It’s been fun watching how three-quarters of U2 have taken to sharing things via the band’s social media accounts. From art galleries to commutes, I’ve enjoyed how their personalities are coming through. Adam’s post where he flew standby and was at the back of the plane had me thinking, "Rock stars – they’re just like us." His posts back on May 24 showed his commute from London to Dublin, ending in the recording studio. I know I wasn’t the only one who enlarged this photo to try to get a glimpse of what he was working on as if it’s a game of iSpy or something. It harks back to when the band was recording Pop and the webcam was on. I half expect another cardboard cutout of Dirty Harry popping up in the band’s social media feed once again saying “Go ahead, make my album” or something like that.
The amount of activity from the U2ers has me still thinking we’ll get something more than just the Paris Innocence + Experience tour DVD this year. The DVD itself may be in the news longer than anticipated as HBO is pitching the concert in its Emmy 2016 For Your Consideration package as a possible nominee in the Specials category.
I know I’m in the minority on this train of thought; however, they are making themselves more available than usual. Typically you wouldn’t see this visibility around a DVD release. I don’t recall them following this publicity path for other DVD releases. Over the past few months, we’ve had Bono on the cover of Q Magazine, the We Are Family gala, and all of his public appearances for the One Campaign and such. Bono joined Edge at the iHeartRadio Awards on April 3. There’s Edge’s hour long interview with Sam Jones and the launch of his own Fender guitar. Adam’s also been busy with public appearances on behalf of Walk In My Shoes, the American Ireland Fund gala, a friend’s book launch, and his “Unknown Pleasures” column about Allen Jones for British GQ.
Ryan Tedder’s comments about Songs Of Experience also has me feeling positive about the album being more done than the band’s letting on. Tedder said, “It’s the most exciting stuff I’ve heard since All That You Can’t Leave Behind. And that album cover was on the wall; [it was] saying ‘Match or beat this record.’”
That insight fascinates me because 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind won eight Grammy awards spanning three years of eligibility. The album had so many commercially available songs across so many radio station genres, a sold-out world tour, and became an album of healing after the attacks of 9/11. It marked a comeback of sorts for U2 as the band was having to dream it up all over again after Pop. U2 is not holding up Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree as the benchmark for Songs Of Experience. Tedder also said, “It’s a very, very accessible sounding record. It’s just great. It’s like: I would buy this album. And I know that a lot of our younger fans would buy, or stream, the album.” U2’s looking for commercial accessibility this time around. If this holds true, I believe Songs Of Innocence was for the fans who “get” who U2 is about. Songs Of Experience may become the album that brings more fans to U2.
The timing of the Paris DVD release for June is also interesting. Why would the band want to close the chapter on Songs Of Innocence at this point? Give the DVD some breathing space over the summer months, hope it does get nominated for an Emmy, ride out that publicity campaign and conclude with the September 18 awards ceremony. There’s the 40th anniversary of the first meet-up in Larry’s kitchen that led to U2 on Sept. 25 as well. The fall may be ideal for U2, and from what I’m seeing they’re slowly priming us for it. I sure hope my crystal ball is right.
Chris Enns shared with the staff some @U2 podcast statistics a few days ago. We’re 32 episodes in now and we have listeners from just about every part of the globe. I never thought spending an hour chatting U2 with some friends would be heard in places like Iran, Qatar, Israel, Malta, or across the whole of South America, Africa and Oceania. I’m glad that we’re able to share our love of the band with so many, and I hope that you all continue to find it entertaining to listen to. On behalf of all of us, thank you for listening!
Songwriters Kay Hanley and Michelle Lewis have joined together to start the advocacy group Songwriters of North America as a response to the abysmal royalty payments songwriters receive from streaming services. They told radio station KPCC that their song “Wings,” which was played several million times on Spotify, earned them a royalty check of $4.78. The royalty works out to be 0.00208 of a penny for each time the song’s played. By contrast, The Trichordist reported that a songwriter would need a song to be played 288 million times to match the average Spotify employee’s salary.
It’s been over a year since our last update on the Curt Schlesinger et al. v. Ticketmaster class-action lawsuit. Members of the Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster class action lawsuit received an update on May 26 with the final settlement agreement terms. Live Nation has set up a dedicated settlement site that explains what class members will receive, and links to the official class action settlement agreement.
The events and venues for these ticket codes are at the sole discretion of Live Nation, so don’t anticipate that you can use your codes for U2 tickets.
If you’re interested in U2’s early days, Valerie has been posting a lot of great band history via Twitter. I have been enjoying the old concert posters and music magazines.
And finally … Bono made a very brief appearance on Thursday night’s NBC Red Nose Day telecast. One look can say so much. The band has supported Red Nose Day for years now. Last year, they shared “Song For Someone” from Vancouver for the telecast. In England, it’s known as Comic Relief. Bono and Larry joined a skit in 2005, and performed “Get On Your Boots” in 2009 for a Comic Relief-themed Top Of The Pops. Bono's 2007 Red Nose Day cameo is also a classic!
Have a great week!