In 1980, Def Leppard decided to give their debut album away for free to Classic Rock readers. Although some questioned the change, frontman Joe Elliott sounded delighted with it in 2014 when speaking to Metal Express. The singer stated that the free offering helped Def Leppard reach a larger audience, allowing them to become a dominant force in the charts. When asked about U2’s recent decision to distribute ‘Songs of Innocence’ to Apple and iTunes subscribers, Joe compared the situation to Def Leppard’s free CD giveaway in the 1980s: “For years, most of the major music magazines have been giving away CDs, and it’s not a big deal.” The Sunday papers used to give out CDs, and artists would be paid a royalty on 2 million copies sold, so it’s a terrific method for musicians to generate money. U2 did not give Apple their music for free; instead, they received a large sum of money for it.” He went on to praise U2’s ‘phenomenal’ commercial decision while also pointing out ‘the mistake’ the band may have made:
“What U2 has done in terms of business has been phenomenal.” They broke a record and generated a profit of 2000% the moment it was released. However, I believe they made a mistake by automatically adding it to people’s accounts. They should have just invited you to come and get it. I believe U2 has established a precedent that we will not know if it is good or terrible for some time.” When U2’s album ‘Songs of Innocence’ was added to iTunes customers’ libraries, Apple experienced such a backlash that the software corporation had to build a special mechanism to allow users to remove the record from their music collection. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed sorrow, and Bono was forced to apologize for ‘pushing’ the album on people without their agreement.