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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.

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

  1. Don Peterman

    lol, U2 sucks. Irrelevant mother fuckas. Screw Bono. Screw everything he stands for. His stupid lyrics, and his whole “start a revolution with my lyrics” approach to the music makes him an even larger asshole. One that can hardly hold back all the shit. Actually, he can’t hold back all the shit, because now he’s gone and made Apple shit on everyone’s iDevice. Fuck U2. Fuck Bono.

    Let’s end poverty, though. For real.

    Fuck Bono. Fuck!!!

  2. I’m against a company thinking they have the right to add whatever the hell they want to my iTunes. U2 makes crappy music based off what I heard on the “free” forced album. It’s not about being against human rights it’s about being against crappy music. Disliking music doesn’t make you against anything. And saying that it does is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Human rights is the right to like or dislike whatever the hell you want.

  3. i’d rather be given the choice of downloading the album than have it plonked in my phone without my permission! their music is not my cup of tea so why would i want it on my phone??

  4. I have nothing against U2, Bono etc. But I am a rock & metal fan. Needless to say, having their album play after listening to Judas Priest or Trivium is like drinking water-downed beer.

  5. Thank god!!! Thank you for this, you helped me get rid of the U2 Virus. For those that can’t delete their songs, re-download, then delete, then turn off the show all. FINALLY U2 FREE!!!!!!

  6. Frank Spaulding

    Anybody notice there is a war in Syria right now? That may possibly become a sh*t mess bigger than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime? And you’re worried about a piece of music? Really?

  7. This just proves that its better to disable all automatic updates and use iCloud only for syncing calendar and contacts accross different devices, if even that, maybe better to just disable it! I did not receive that album so this publicity stunt does not concern me.

  8. Beasly Reese

    All of you iPhone owners have my sympathies with respect to this terrible ordeal you are going through. My prayers are with you as you try and make it through this difficult time.

  9. Classic Rocker

    What is in world would make Apple pull such a stupid stunt. I hope whoever thought of this gets fired! I cannot get rid of this sh$%! My iPhone and iPad will not ‘swipe to the left’ to be able to delete. I have my music just the way I like it and U2 has never been in my library. This is pissing me off!

  10. iTunes is only giving it away for free until October 14th when the album has it’s official “worldwide” release.

    On that day, it will vanish from everyone’s clouds so relax!

  11. Hannah I got this from a friend – if you go to settings > iTunes & App Store and where it says apple ID click on that, sign out and then sign back in again and it disappears. Hope it works!

  12. S.M.Lilley

    Shame on APPLE and U2 !!! You took advantage of millions of people and their privacy ! What else have you done that we are unaware of ? You are just as bad as a drug pusher !