A few days before the launch of their latest album, U2 and Amazon are launching “The U2 Experience.” The exclusive broadcast will simultaneously air across multiple time zones tonight at 6 pm EDT and will be available to Amazon Prime members and Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers in the US, UK, Germany and Austria. In addition, “The U2 Experience” will be available in the US and UK through Alexa on Amazon Echo devices. To listen to the broadcast, users simply ask, “Alexa, play the U2 Experience.”
The broadcast will feature historical and exclusive interviews with U2 band members as they discuss their music careers, albums and past tours as well as the band’s biggest hits and live recordings from their latest tour, The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. Amazon is touting it as a “a first-of-its-kind broadcast for Amazon Music designed with the voice experience in mind.” What makes “The U2 Experience” unique is that it is basically one long live radio program. It cannot be started from the beginning. Instead, “fans will be able to drop into the broadcast and begin listening wherever the unique audio is currently in progress.”
A Different Kind of Music Marketing
It is indeed a first-of-its-kind way to promote a new album. But this is not the first time U2 has tried something unusual when it comes to marketing their music. As you may remember back in 2014, U2 gave Apple the exclusive rights to its Songs of Innocence album which it then gifted to every single iTunes user – without asking first. Apple and U2 pushed the new album on consumers and it was not well received. U2 is trying a different tactic this time, although they are still giving away their content for free. Instead of pushing users to enjoy their music, Amazon and U2 are trying to pull fans in with exclusive audio content.
It will be interesting to see how the broadcast is received and how many fans will tune in on an Echo device. If it does well, one can imagine other musicians and bands will also look to Amazon and Alexa to promote new albums or tours. Even after 40+ years, U2 is still not afraid to take risks. Or learn from their mistakes. People like the idea of free music, but only when it’s their choice. We’ll see how many fans choose to listen into “The U2 Experience” on Amazon and Alexa in the next two days, but it is sure to go better than the band’s experience with Apple Music.