Sour Apple: Noel Gallagher warns of free U2 albums in 2008, says it’s ‘time to start shitting’


Former Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher once said something to the effect of, “If you tell the entire world you’re the greatest band on the planet, half of them are going to believe you.” The same holds true for his opinions and predictions: if you give enough brazen pullquotes and soundbites over the year, some are bound to come true.

But something he said in an October 2008 interview with Q Magazine has really hit home this month. Nearly six years ago, Gallagher warned that, in assessing the value of music and the trend of giving albums away for free, “the time to start shitting it is when U2 start giving records away.”

Last week, U2 delivered Songs Of Innocence to millions by directly depositing the album to people’s Apple devices.

The quote stemmed from Gallagher being asked at the time if he considered giving away that month’s Dig Out Your Soul, Oasis’ seventh and final studio album. His full response, captured over the weekend on social media by Los Angeles’ all-around rock and roll renaissance man Scottie Diablo, is classic Noel.

Diablo even dubbed it #Noelstradamus.

Noel G u2

  1. I wish someone would report this story correctly!

    U2 did NOT give away their album for free. U2 did not directly deposit the album to people’s Apple devices. According to some reports, Apple paid U2 somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000,000.00 for the right to gift copies of the new album to iTunes users through mid-October.

    Also, U2’s new album was NEVER physically uploaded to anyones devices. Yes, it is listed on their music playlist and it can be listened to via iCloud. But no physical .m4a files were ever uploaded to any device. Device owners can choose for themselves whether or not to download the physical .m4a files to their devices.

    1. EXACTLY. It is a different animal. No one is asking an indie band, who pooled their money together to produce a record, to give it away free on iTunes. This is advertising.

  2. Music does have a ‘value’ but pieces of plastic containing it don’t. Equating music with the medium it’s sold on is a folly. Before CDs and LPs there was sheet music .. how music is transmitted will always change with technology. Today the technology has become ubiquitous to the point that the distribution costs are low. Artists who believe that they’ll be paid for the plastic their music is transmitted on are living in the past. I’m sorry but that’s the reality (backed up by a raft of recent releases). No doubt it’s difficult for some artists to accept that how they previously generated income has gone but that’s life. It’s like a candle maker complaining about electrification. That said the music or craft itself doesn’t have to degraded or cheapened. If anything it’s lowered barriers to the appreciation and made music more democratic (is it fair that there’s a cost barrier to hearing new music?). If people can get your music for free and they love it then they’ll come and see live performances etc. Surely that’s only putting music back into the days before greedy middle men and plastic was making all the profits. We’ve moved back to a time when having your music on the airwaves (just now a free LP into iTunes) generates interest in the live artist and their work.I believe that time will judge the period when music was distributed on various forms of paid plastic as the anomaly in the history of music and that music being free for appreciation and a flyer for generating interest in the live artist has been and will be the norm.

    1. This is not about “plastic”. It’s about intellectual property, the fact that music is easily shared because of the small data sizes of MP3s (piracy) and the widespread availability of digital recording technology. Let me explain the knock on effect of that last bit…

      The barrier to entry and the barrier to piracy is lower than ever. Know how many albums were released year on year until the mid-90s? Around 35,000. Know how many albums a year are released now? More than a million. The fact that everyone and their granny can produce an album in their bedroom and the fact that music is almost seen as a ‘right to own’ commodity as opposed to something to pay for means that it’s intrinsic value has dwindled to almost nothing, Labels failed to make the transition because they were too busy holding onto the old model of pushing units and screwing artists. At least, however, back then artists had a chance. Now it’s almost futile. The entire industry is diluted, the bottleneck to success which was once stringently guarded, is almost closed while a free-for-all happens in the periphery. The problem is regulating HOW people access music to generate revenue. It’s just not possible any more but because of artists “doing it for the love”, people can have their cake and eat it too.

      Speaking of cake…

      Say there’s a baker and he bakes cakes. His cakes happen to be really great and people buy them happily. People come into his store and physically buy the cake in a nice little package. The guy has worked his entire life to create these cakes and he has a skill that is sought after and paid for happily because they are in demand and cannot be replicated. Then, one day in the technological future, they create this digital cake-making machine and everyone is able to produce cakes that also taste great by simply punching the recipe into their computer. Poof! Out comes a cake. Not only that but they make a virtual cake sharing teleportation device like you see in Star Trek that allows anyone to eat a facsimile of HIS cake when they feel like it, without ever leaving the house. The baker keeps baking cakes but nobody wants to buy them anymore because 1. they can do it with their own digital cake making machine and 2. they can taste his cake virtually for free at any time they want. The result? A devalued production chain and a devalued product.

      THAT is what has happened to the music business.

        1. This issue is grossly complicated so no, I don’t. If I did I would probably be very wealthy, which I’m not. I don’t think anyone has a solution because the internet cannot be controlled. You can’t stop people sharing mp3s as much as you can’t stop corporations like Behringer or M-Audio from making cheap recording technology for massive profits. In a nutshell, the music business is f*cked and what was once a mountain to climb is a sheer, almost insurmountable 20 mile cliff.

          However, if you’re an artist in 2014 the plus side is that you have this giant platform to promote your music (the internet) and can make a decent living if your music is good enough to get you decent gigs. Radio is still around and still has the same quality controllers as it did in ages past so if you play your cards right you can make a decent amount of royalties in ‘over-air’ broadcast. We all know digital royalties are in their infancy and no one is making money except the majors and the owners of the platform (Spotify, etc). The movie business is still robust so instead of trying to be a rockstar, maybe write a film score or get your music on a TV show. The music business as far as the old model of physical albums has definitely dwindled to almost nothing. It’s time to be creative but just remember there are 999,999 other people releasing albums this year who are also hungry to be creative and successful. It’s the most competitive it’s ever been. And what do we know about competition? The more competitive a market, the lower prices are driven. I.e. devaluation. The one thing you still have going for you in the music business is the same as it’s ever been: cream rises. If your music is good enough (read: appeals to a mass market), you’ve still got a chance but you gotta fight harder for it than ever before. There’s just too much static in the signal for you to be heard these days.

    2. It’s not even how they previously generated revenue. There is no revenue. None. Zero. It’s seriously that bad right now. Even if you are the greatest musician in the world it doesn’t matter. And the truly talented people that used to go into music now stay away from even starting to play music because there is absolutely no money and it’s an industry that is in complete shambles that is full of scum bags trying to make the last few dollars that remain. The music industry is completely F’ed and there is no money to do anything anymore. Who is going to spend $10k to make a decent album when they sell maybe 50 copies to their friends? Nobody. You’re gonna get a ton of music made by some dudes in their basement that was mixed by their cousin and the cover was taken by their mom, and they won’t have any real experience making music at all, because even after making that one album in their basement they will have maxed out their credit card because of all the time it took them while they didn’t have a job. The situation is truly dire, and people are just getting out of it, and soon there won’t be anyone worth that 99 cents you don’t want to pay.

  3. Well Noel also did release Dreams of Children which was pretty much free for most people. I don’t really understand the point of this article as we’re holding someone to what was said six years ago, as if we are not allowed to change our attitudes. I think at this point anyway we’re not expecting anymore amazing releases from U2- pretty much their last surprisingly good record was in 2000. They are highly successful enough to release a free album, and most people would say their new stuff doesn’t compare anyway to Joshua Tree or anything around that era. I also agree with the comment below, and anyone who remembers the red iPods about five or six years ago knows U2 and Apple have worked some partnership. Songs of Innocence is decent songwriting with great production, and people would probably buy it anyway, but not in huge waves. Dig Out Your Soul was an amazing record, and if that was free it would be ridiculous.

    1. This is a big deal, and extremely relevant to today. How can an artist come up in todays world if they have to give away all of their music for free, because people say things like “Well, U2 gave their music away for free why would I buy your music? You’re not even close to their level of stardom.” It’s basically impossible to make it as a true musician nowadays and not some novelty act like Lady Gaga. And it’s all because there is 0 money in it. Artists don’t need to be paid millions, but as long as they can keep a roof over their heads there will continue to be great music. Right now though, real musicians can’t even do that things are so bad, and what U2 did, while generous, completely screws over everyone else who actually needs money to, you know, buy food and pay rent with the album they released that cost them 10k to produce.

  4. The point is that zillionaire bands like U2 have made their money and will do what ever the fuck they want in order to maintain relevance. As there are no more record companies to spend the money on A&R, production and development as U2 and the other rich dinosaurs had in order to build the mega stardom they now have, present day artists are completely left on their own. If U2 lets everybody know that music should be free and nobody should have to pay for it, then that last little .001 cent that musicians now receive for each 99 cent download is rendered truly useless. maybe if the music buisness goes away all together the actual spiritual,informative,inspirational purpose of music in our culture may be revived.

    1. There are many record companies. Where did you get the notion there are no record companies? Universal, Sony, own half of all the little labels out there. Who do you hear on the radio? Groups on Little Dick Records? Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, lady Gaga, all the big stars that dominate the radio have big corporation labels behind them making it very hard for indie labels to get play, even on rinky dink 5-mile radius radio. Indies have saturated iTunes, and good bands find success and get snapped up by majors because it’s the smart thing for them to do, or they’ll drown in the sea of self-made home studio bands that come and go when they realize they need their Starbucks job back. U2 is desperate for attention but they don’t need publicity stunts, they just need to write better stuff. Maybe they just want to be nice to their fans and in this ungrateful society people are just too self absorbed to receive something without being gracious.

  5. Meanwhile, Rush continues continues on the traditional way. They release new albums that sell well and then they go on tour and fill arenas. They may have slowed down the pace, but they’ve never been a nostalgia act and never felt compelled to dominate the world like U2, who’s music by the way, completely sucks now. Rush’s latest studio album, “Clockwork Angels” is perhaps their best since their 1981 masterpiece, “Moving Pictures”. And they’ve put out some great stuff since then.

  6. As I really like U2 I didn’t mind it one bit when I found the album for free in my itunes purchases. Crazy world when you complain something was free. The U2 haters really are just so jealous that it comes so easy for them now but they really did pay their dues to get where they are. They really stuck their neck out when they put together the ZooTV tour. It was expensive and they had little financial support. Whether people want to recognize it or not they are the epitome of the aspirations of all small youthful rock bands. They met in high school and could barely play their instruments but ended up being one of the greatest live rock and roll successes ever. Musicians can be so insecure and jealous because in the end they all want attention and praise no matter how righteous the want to appear. People keep criticizing that they will do anything to stay relevant. I don’t see it. I just see them being what they have always been. The dare to be as big a presence as possible and welcome the criticism … now. After Rattle and Hum they realized how people were going to start trying to tear them down. They said to themselves, “why be so damn admirable if people are gunna be like this. Lets just be they same good guys we are now but like are music kick ass instead.” Noel is my favorite though, I must admit, but the criticism of the free album sounds a little like jealousy. I could be wrong but I could be right since Oasis never had the cohesion that U2 does and could never have lasted as long as them. They always depended on Noel’s great song writing abilities. Also I think that Noel is criticizing the fact that musicians are expected to be either greedy and self indulgent or generous and humble… like there is no in between. U2 make thoughtful music but also entertainment and yes make money. Noel is clearly saying…this is work man! Further, WTF could U2 possibly do to be any more “relevant”. What does that mean in music terms anyways besides, “I like what they did.” No musician or group can really define the current music state any more. Nothing is new. Music can be “relevant” again when all albums are deleted from history and all musicians are dead are and forgotten. Then the the wheel of rock and roll can be invented again and relevant. Some people take this way to seriously. Music can’t really save the world or your soul. You either like because it makes you feel something you want to feel or you don’t and it isn’t relevant to you. Kudos to Noel for making such awesome music. Sorry he can’t be as relevant as used to be. He knows you are all chasing yesterday. Oh ya one last thing. U2 was never punk. They haven’t really changed much no matter the image of the times.

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