Why is U2’s latest album on your iPhone? How to remove Apple’s publicity stunt

Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2’s latest album via iTunes yesterday: The album, titled Songs of Innocence, instantly became “the largest album release of all time,” as Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on stage during the company’s iPhone 6 event. But now, it looks like it’s also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time.

To turn Songs of Innocence into a record release, [company]Apple[/company] decided to add it to every iTunes user’s music library without asking. For many iPhone users, this meant that the album also automatically downloaded onto their device — and that left many people confused, if not upset.

To get a sense of how badly the distribution scheme was received, one has to look no further than Twitter, where more than 24 hours later, complaints are still pouring in.

https://twitter.com/warrenellis/status/509808552882741248

Searching for “U2 phone” on Twitter not only gets you countless swear-word-laden tweets, with quite a few coming from younger iPhone users who seem to have no idea who U2 is, but also complaints about actual issues like storage space.

That brings up a good point: How do you actually get rid of the album? Turns out that’s not as easy as it should be.

Users can always erase individual songs from their device, which in itself is a less-than-obvious process. To delete, swipe left on the song and press delete.

If a song has already downloaded (as shown by not having the cloud symbol), swipe left on the song title to show the delete button. If you click delete, you'll see it goes back to the cloud.
If a song has already downloaded (as shown by not having the cloud symbol), swipe left on the song title to show the delete button. If you click delete, you’ll see it goes back to the cloud.

Once they’re deleted, they’ll go back into the cloud, but still remain in your album list. If you detest seeing U2 even show up on your artist list, you can hide the band by hiding all of your music from the cloud.

If you haven't downloaded the songs, it should look like the left panel. To hide them from your phone, go to Settings then Music and turn off the "Show All Music".
If you haven’t downloaded the songs, it should look like the left panel. To hide them from your phone, go to Settings then Music and turn off the “Show All Music”.

However, even if you delete those songs, they may be automatically re-downloaded if automatic downloads are turned on for a user’s iTunes account. Here’s how to disable that option on your computer or see below from your phone. 

To prevent your songs from being re-downloaded if they're in the cloud, go to settings and iTunes & App Store. Turn off automatic downloads and show all music to prevent them from downloading again.
To prevent your songs from being re-downloaded if they’re in the cloud, go to settings and iTunes & App Store. Turn off automatic downloads and show all music to prevent them from downloading again.

After that, users have to actually fire up their computer to launch iTunes, and hide the item from their library. There is no way to permanently delete the album.

Given these complications, it may have been a better idea for Apple to forego the world record, and just make the album available for free to anyone who wants it.

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