U2 singles strategy upon further review

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Jun 17, 2002
I am not ready to change my opinion on U2 releasing different singles at the same time worldwide, as I think it's confusing and not really feasible with the global communication network. However, I'm not so sure ABOY was the mistake I have been saying it was for North America anymore, so I'm already contradicting myself.

I know Popmartijn shared a similar thought process on what U2 or Interscope MIGHT have been trying to do weeks ago, and now that's exactly what's happening. Here are the positives from ABOY in N.A. and Sometimes while it was released and hyped up in the R.OW.

1) ABOY topped certain radio play formats in the U.S., and reinforced the idea that HTDAAB was in fact a more rockin' record than it really is. I think U2 has gotten all the buyers it will get for those who expected "punk rock on venus".

2) Vertigo was U2 overload due to the I-pod promotion, etc. The ABOY video was definitely "for the fans", fairly well-done, and resulted in a free mini-concert in NYC. Plus, it was sponsored by MTV, the demographic brainwashed on crap music that is the hardest for U2 to crack.

3) Since ABOY was part of the MTV jammed special, I think that's the ONLY reason the video made onto TRL 3 times, has been on the MTV Top 20 countdown for a few months now, and got decent rotation on MTV2's "all things rock".

4) Other video stations picked up the pace with ABOY, with VH1 playing it and having it on their Top 20 countdown for a few months, too. Much Music and affiliates are still playing ABOY in pretty heavy rotation, with the video in the top 10 or top 2, depending on your music channel.

5) Meanwhile, SYCMIOYO is released in the UK where it gets a lot of press for debuting at #1. That really helped R.O.W. sales, IMO. It was not released to the R.O.W. on Feb 7 everywhere, though...just a few select European countries. In fact, it has a MAXI single with an impressive tracklist due out in Japan tomorrow, and was released in N.A. quietly last week (and Germany, for that matter).

6) It was probably good that U2 pulled back a bit after the I-pod thing, although I'm not one of those who views that as a sellout...I think it's U2 helping the record industry get a structure in place for paid digital music, which they couldn't due, period.

7) So, now ABOY is peaking in Canada and on certain U.S. radio formats. Meanwhile, SYCMIOYO is promoting itself on the exact opposite formats, and VH1 has made it this week's "spotlight video" while completely dropping ABOY from their playlist.

8) HTDAAB sold so many records so fast that sales dropped quickly and had me concerned, and I blamed the singles strategy. In hindsight, HTDAAB has held up remarkably well in what is a totally different market in 2005 versus 2000. Vertigo won 3 grammies and has yet to fade from the scene...it's still U2's most played song on the PoP 100 airplay charts in the U.S.

9) So, what U2 effectively has is 3 hit singles in N.A. at the same time, with Sometimes being a global success already charting at #13 on the World Singles Chart. With this trickle down release strategy, they will get a lot of mileage out of this song, and it's a good song that deserves it.

10) All of this was done w/o U2 getting "over-exposed", almost like a mini-strategy within the overall HTDAAB big picture. The tour is now the hottest thing going, the flap over lack of tickets probably HELPED U2, as demand >>> supply, so U2 comes back in the Fall. The tour is now planned to go well into 2006 as U2 hits Australia & other areas.

11) HTDAAB will benefit for a much longer time due to all these factors, and U2 doesn't have to do much more marketing, as the tour, grammy nominations, next year's Christmas season, and singles should keep things going w/o any more I-pod saturation.

This could end up being quite brilliant, and as others have pointed out, U2 have always been very savvy in the business sense. I don't know if Paul M. deserves the credit or not, but HTDAAB will outsell ATYCLB, IMO, and in 2 years time, I still think 15M in sales is feasible. IF COBL, MD, OOTS, or any of these songs really breaks through on the charts - after Sometimes does - then watch out...this album could blow away all expectations!
I think it's a bit too early to say 'Told ya!' but keep it in mind should Sometimes... become a big US hit. :wink:
Popmartijn said:
I think it's a bit too early to say 'Told ya!' but keep it in mind should Sometimes... become a big US hit. :wink:

when you say 'big' how big do you mean?

makes it into billboard 100 ?
top 50 ?
top 30 ?
Top 40 on Hot 100, with Top 5 spots in the HAC, Mainstream Rock, and maybe Modern Rock would be a solid hit. W/O downloads or a Maxi CD single in the U.S., it cannot make it to the top of BB charts.

So, I'll post the airplay charts as much as possible to help determine how it's doing. ABOY hit #1 on Triple A as did Vertigo...Vertigo hit #1 on 4 formats. Sometimes would have to do the same to help the album significantly.
I know that Sometimes is the official third airplay single, but the rock stations in New England (and also stations on satellite radio) seem to be playing City Of Blinding Lights a lot more right now. Perhaps Sometimes is too slow for them.

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