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Old 12-01-2004, 09:41 PM   #1
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U2 the Band vs. U2 the Corporation

The thread regarding the copyright issue, as well as issues surrounding the evolution of Propaganda into its online successor got me thinking about the differences between U2 the band and U2 the corporate entity.

I've been a U2 fan for a long time, and while I know they are human and fallible, I have thought of them as giving their fans a certain amount of respect and leeway that other bands don't necessarily give. So to perceive this as changing is disappointing, and I've come to realize that there are two distinct creatures when it comes to U2.

There is the U2 the band, who create amazing, uplifting music, and then there is U2 the business.

I'm curious about whether or not there is a distinction that you make when it comes to U2. Borrowing a post from the other thread:

Quote:
Originally posted by mkjc
With other bands you can separate the people from the music. With U2 I think people need to feel they are good people for the music to have its full meaning.
Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
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Old 12-01-2004, 10:12 PM   #2
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No, I don't think you need to think they are good people to like the music, but I am a fan both because I like the music and they are good people. Does that make sense?

There was an interesting story awhile ago about the business of U2. Some of it went over my head, you can tell I'm no business major...
http://www.atu2.com/news/article.src...Year=2004&Cat=
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by mkjc
With other bands you can separate the people from the music. With U2 I think people need to feel they are good people for the music to have its full meaning.
While I can like music without knowing much of anything about a band...to love that band I have to care about the people in it. In the late 80's, after being absolutely repulsed by some musicians, I made a consious effort not to learn anything about the musicians or bands I liked.

Even with my beloved The Church I heard a couple of songs on the radio, bought a few albums and that was it. For well over a decade I didn't read or listen to a single review, interview, article or anything else with them or about them, except for the albums, and I liked their music. Then I got internet access and couldn't resist googling them...and I was just sucked in. Not only did I find there was a whole host of material (both with the band and solo and outside collaborations by each member of the band), but I also found I actually liked the people I have found them to be. I wouldn't be the hardcore fan I am without liking the people.

I think the same is true of U2, but U2 has a a huge corporate side which The Church, both for good and bad, doesn't. The corporate U2, while allowing them great financial security and freedom, also puts up a wall between the band and their fans. A band with the popularity of U2 has to have a strong corporate side, but I think they have such devoted fans because they are able to come across as real humans who actually care about their fans. It can't be as personal as the relationship between fan and band as one can have with a band such as The Church (for instance I just set up an exhibition of artwork by The Church's lead singer), but it can be very real and very powerful.
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:33 PM   #4
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I've been having the same problem for the past month or so. I really like the new album, but U2's recent business decisions just seem to go against everything I always thought they stood for. Since when does U2 cheapen its music by allowing one of their songs, as well as their image, to be used to advertise a product? I know, they supposedly accepted no money for use of the song and it is promoting a product on which one plays music, but it still felt like a slap in the face. It's almost like I care more about the integrity of the band and their music more than the band does! And then I read about how appallingly the members of Propoganda have been treated (thank God I never signed up!) and then there was the whole business about Universal not allowing their lyrics to be posted on fan sites (I know, it was Universal's decision, not U2's, but you can't tell me U2 didn't know they were getting in bed with a corporate monster when they signed the dotted line - and since when does U2 allow anyone else say in how their songs can be used except themselves?) And then fans who have legitimately bought everything U2 has ever released have to pay $150 to get a handful of unreleased songs.

If this is what it takes to be a mega-selling band these days, I wish U2 would just pull a Pearl Jam and say "No thanks" to the corporate music machine. And you know what? Despite the above rant I will still be doing whatever it takes to get a ticket to the nearest show to me on the tour, no matter what it costs me. Sometimes I feel like a crack addict dependant on my dealer.
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:38 PM   #5
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IMO U2 allows for their corporate side of things to do the "dirty" work in order to not get killed by the media like Metallica was and therefore maintain their "pristine" image . Reading the interview of the Edge, done by Negativland was an interesting window into how the corporate side of things work (alah the smashing of Negativland).
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:41 PM   #6
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The overload of crap going on with the U2 camp (whether you agree with the moves or not) alah the commerical, the IPOD, the copyright issues with the lyrics and guitar tabs, the Propaganda problems, the three CDs, and the possible/potential reaming with potentially high ticket prices... it's a lot to take in and at one time to be honest.
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Flying FuManchu
IMO U2 allows for their corporate side of things to do the "dirty" work in order to not get killed by the media like Metallica was and therefore maintain their "pristine" image . Reading the interview of the Edge, done by Negativland was an interesting window into how the corporate side of things work (alah the smashing of Negativland).
Link to the interview
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:46 PM   #8
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Whoops...
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Old 12-02-2004, 04:53 PM   #9
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I thought the IPod move was a stroke of genius. In this age of video being dominated by hideous hip-hop, rap, etc on MTV, U2 found another way to visually cast their music. A non-financial collaboration with a major distributor where they made a 60 second video to the masses - mostly in prime time during sporting events, prime time shows, etc. I think this could be the wave of the future to penetrate the market of those who pulled the plug on MTV decades ago. Just think of it as another way to broaden the base...and I don't really like Vertigo the song.

U2 is a business, first and foremost. Their product is music. In a world economy, that's what we all are in one aspect or another. We're fortunate as U2 fans that the business makes an unbelievable product...It's beautiful really...
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Old 12-02-2004, 05:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's shades

And you know what? Despite the above rant I will still be doing whatever it takes to get a ticket to the nearest show to me on the tour, no matter what it costs me. Sometimes I feel like a crack addict dependant on my dealer.
This is where my reservations about the business of the band comes in. They know how fervent a lot of the fans are about the band. They know there are fans who feel compelled to buy concert tickets at any price, and every U2-emblazened product they can find, whether it's good for their bank accounts or not. True, nobody's got a gun to a fan's head, but then, you have to remember that the word 'fan' is short for 'fanatic'. Whenever Bono talks about the 'die-hards', that's exactly who and what he's talking about. It isn't the band's fault that this occurs, but they need to be aware that it exists. They need to realize that music that inspires such deep devotion - on an almost religious level - can easily be used to screw fans out of money when they really shouldn't be spending that kind of cash.
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Old 12-02-2004, 05:12 PM   #11
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Regarding that Negativeland/Edge interview, does anyone know if U2 wound up lending them the money they were asking for? $10,000 doesn't sound like that much money considering what happened.


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Old 12-02-2004, 05:14 PM   #12
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Funny, I never saw music as a "product" - at least not U2's music. Sure, technically I know it is something that is bought and sold, but at heart I believe it is artistic expression, something from the heart and soul, as corny as that sounds.
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Old 12-02-2004, 05:14 PM   #13
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I'm not so happy about the fact that in the months leading up to this album, the idea of U2 as a corporation and U2 as a band has developed into two such strong individual beings. I don't want to jump on the bandwagon and start slating the band, but I find some of the recent 'business' decisions that have been made tovery questionable.
No, I wasn't particularly against the Ipod (I wasn't chanting it's praises either, but I didn't have the vendetta against it that some people did), and alot of people were quick to point out that this deal between Apple and U2 was probably largely managed and encouraged by the higher powers (PMcG and the sorts). However, U2 were clearly informed about this decision - they promoted and endorsed the product, which makes me think that they must also be aware of this recent decision to take down lyrics/tablature from websites. I don't think they're completely innocent in this whole thing, and that concerns me a little bit. Like you said, U2_Muse, I always felt that U2 reserved that respect and dignity for fans too, and I do feel really disappointed by the outcome. I want to stress that I don't feel that U2 are bad people for what's happened recently, as I don't at all, but I think most of you can feel the disappointment too. Let's face it, if Bono can make Geroge Bush listen, he could defintely have made Universal listen.
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Old 12-02-2004, 05:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Flying FuManchu
IMO U2 allows for their corporate side of things to do the "dirty" work in order to not get killed by the media like Metallica was and therefore maintain their "pristine" image . Reading the interview of the Edge, done by Negativland was an interesting window into how the corporate side of things work (alah the smashing of Negativland).
It's interesting you should bring up the Negativeland affair. I was just talking to a good friend of mine who's a big Negativeland fan, last night, and she says that the bitterness of Negativeland and a lot of their fans toward U2 still exists, 12 years later.
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Old 12-02-2004, 05:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shade

It's interesting you should bring up the Negativeland affair. I was just talking to a good friend of mine who's a big Negativeland fan, last night, and she says that the bitterness of Negativeland and a lot of their fans toward U2 still exists, 12 years later. [/B]
I can imagine that is certainly is. They were essentially destroyed, and they didn't have to be. I would be bitter and angry if it had happened to a band I cared about. These kind of slights never fade for those involved.
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:05 PM   #16
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I still love U2, I just wonder where the line is drawn between art and commerce.

I don't have a problem with the iPod, because I see that as an extension of their product line, as it were.

I am, however, uncomfortable with the issues surrounding the former Propaganda members and the new fanclub, and the cease and desist letters regarding the tabs and lyrics.

That said,

Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's shades

And you know what? Despite the above rant I will still be doing whatever it takes to get a ticket to the nearest show to me on the tour, no matter what it costs me
Me too.
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:13 PM   #17
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I've grudgingly accepted U2, the corporation years ago because it's kept U2 the band from being The Clash or Joy Division.

I'm still bummed about the Guitar Archive though.
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:56 PM   #18
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Thanks for the link to that interview Fu Manchu, it was fascinating reading!
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:22 PM   #19
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The bottom line is that the two are very separate entities in many ways, but the most important way for them to be separate is artistically. While the definition of selling out has not changed, what comprises selling out has changed over the last 35 years. It all really boils down to this: When a band makes artistic and musical decisions solely because it will be to their financial gain to do so, they have sold out, and that's when the true fan gets disappointed (and should).

The Stones, much as I love them, are a total sellout. Their music is terrific, but they haven't done anything noteworthy on an artistic level in 25 years. The mega-tours, corporate sponsorship and millions of dollars are a very major part of why they get out on the road and keep doing it.

U2 on the other hand has continued to make brilliant artistic statements up until as recently as 1 week ago. Their new album is on a par with their best work. you simply can't and don't come up with something that outstanding and worthy if you are creatnig it solely for financial gain. Their hearts and their integrity are clearly in the music, and that is what makes it so great. And that greatness creates the need for a "corporate U2" not vice versa. And if they want to allow their song to be played as part of the ipod - which hinestly for anyone that owns one revolutionizes the way you listen to music - or allow a song to be used on "The OC' (SYCMIOYO was on it tonight) to reach a wider audience, good for them. This is some of the best music our planet will ever hear, and everyone should be told to take a listen to it. U2's financial machine exists and is dribven by the artistic integrity and talent of the band, not vice versa. By definition, U2 is NOT a sellout - they illustrate how to NOT sell out and still make millions.
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:30 PM   #20
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I agree that one needs to separate the music from the people. Let's remember that the process for achieving bigtime mainstream fame selects out for megalomaniacs who are willing to sacrifice various aspects of themselves to become rich and famous. Also, to be fair many of us would never have even heard of U2 if they weren't such great businessmen.

Michael Jordan was an awesome basketball player but also a mean, competetive freak - wouldn't want to know him but I'll watch his highlight reels any day.

Martin Luther King was an amazing civil rights leader but may have cheated on his wife - wouldn't want to marry him but I wish I was strong/brave/talented enough to emulate his civil service.

Bono is an amazing singer, but unquestionably a megalomaniac by any legitimate definition of the term. I wouldn't want to meet him but I'll do whatever it takes to see him sing.

Right now U2 are very focused on surpassing the Rolling Stones as the #2 rock band of all time. Despite the far superior critical acclaim U2's albums have garnered, the Stones are way ahead in terms of radio hits and the ability to reliably sell out stadiums. The U.S. corporate-owned media write history, and therefore U2 needs to suck up to them in order to establish their legacy. This means a less creative but more accessible album, mega-marketing and corporate deals, and the upcoming stadium tour (summer and fall).

Forget the personalities and enjoy the ride.
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