Last week with the unveiling of the new iPhones, Apple also announced that they had given all customers free copies of a new and unannounced U2 album. Soon afterwards the internet shit their pants. Not because this was a free album by an iconic band. Nor was it because this is another volley in the changing of the music business landscape. No, the internet freaked out because this was another way to kick dirt on U2. Now I am not a U2 fan. I think I’ve owned one album from the group. But the backlash they received was mind boggling because U2 is not the first act to pull this. Jay Z did it with Samsung and his old lady Beyonce followed suit. Now they did get a little flack but not near the level Bono and boys have. One of those critics is the reason I am writing this. Music mogul, manager, and camera whore, Sharon Osbourne offered up her opinion.
“U2 you are business moguls not musicians anymore. No wonder you have to give your mediocre music away for free cause no one wants to buy it.”
Now anyone that knows who she is should find this statement laughable on many levels. She took her husband Ozzy Osbourne, and transformed him from a bat biting, Alamo pissing on, Devil worshiping Heavy Metal singer to a clumsy lovable Dad via reality TV makeover. With that makeover came a truck load of bobble heads, T-shrts, lunchboxes, and other kitschy crap that kept Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts in the black. None of this was done for the sake of music it was to expand his profile and business. It created new revenue streams because, let’s be honest, he hasn’t released a good album in about two decades. Sharon in her incredible foresight saw the changing record industry and broke him away from the metal genre turning him into a pop culture icon. She created Ozzfest as a touring festival so he could get the rub from the upcoming metal acts while at the same time positioning him as a musical deity when years before he could not fill most arenas. Then all the TV shows, don’t forget the variety show she had so her talent less kids could get more undeserved airtime. Again, she had turned him into a brand. Music was just a branch of a growing music business tree.
And kudos to her.
She learned just like The Beatles and Elvis and KISS did, make that money while you can. However, she went from being a shrewd business manager to an egomaniac cunt. From the show she made herself a star and it all went downhill. She has picked fights with almost 90% of the music business and never looked good doing it. From not giving Bob Daisley or Lee Kerslake proper credit. To stealing all writing credits from Jake E Lee for Bark At The Moon. To suing Tony Iommi for 50% of the rights to Black Sabbath. She did this to insure that all 4 original members would share equally from the name.
That is the definition of fuzzy math.
It then came as a surprise that leading up to the Sabbath reunion drummer Bill Ward said he was not participating because he was not getting a fair offer. Her lawsuit to get everyone 25% each quickly turned into Bill getting a reported 4%. As disgusting as that was, and it was, she made a business decision because she knew musically Ozzy doesn’t have it anymore.
So her remarks about the U2-Apple deal were puzzling. Yes, U2 are business moguls just as she is. They cut a great deal with Apple for this album plus I’m sure there is another deal to use U2 music in future ads for a certain amount of time. When they release the physical copies of the album in a couple months they’ll get more talk from this Apple deal. Again, get that money. Even more puzzling about her remarks is many bands of the Metal genre have done something similar. The Melvins, among others, have released free EP’s through a relationship with auto manufacturer Scion. Converse sneakers have offered similar arrangements.
I’m starting to think that the reason she is mad is because she wasn’t able to pull this off. For all of her work in making Ozzy bigger than the genre but to corporate America he is still the vile guy that killed a dove. So since she couldn’t make it happen she’s criticizing those that did. I still bet that in a couple years will see a deal with Ozzy and Burger King and she’ll sing a different tune.
Just like Ozzy’s it will probably suck.