When was the last time you bought a CD? To be honest it’s been a while since I’ve set foot in a music shop, let alone bought a CD. So when I read that U2 were selling there new album, No Line on the Horizon, for $3.99 on Amazon (US), I presumed it was part of an offer, or perhaps even a typo - €13.99 would seem more realistic surely?
Well as it turns out, $3.99 is exactly what they are selling the new album for. In a week that has seen the 22 Grammy’d, 140 million albums sold, Irish God’s of rock take up a week long residency on The Late Show and have a New York road named after them, U2 have taken the bold move to release their newest works at a seriously discounted price.
So what do you think, clever marketing ploy or an attempt to connect with the masses during a tough economic time, by Paul David Hewson and co. Interestingly Lily Allen recently did a similar $3.99 pricing on Amazon.com for the debut of her second album, It's Not Me It's You, and landed at No. 5 on the charts. So there’s no reason the same tactic wouldn’t work for superstars like U2. Of course it could also be an interesting ploy to discourage illegal downloads of the album. At $3.99 why bother stealing it?
The physical CD is selling for $9.99, there’s a limited-edition boxed set with poster and film download for $64.99, and the digi-pack with the same perks is $22.99.
All in all it’s very similar to Radiohead’s "pay what you like" offer for the 2007 digital release of In Rainbows. Of course Radiohead weren’t under contract at the time (a fact people often forget). In this case, U2's label, Interscope, suffers the biggest burden of loss if most people simply go with the MP3 only option of Horizon's first week sales.