Like U2′s manager, Paul McGuinness, Bono firmly believes that all problems can be solved by haranguing people in power and pleading for charitable donations, rather than actually changing economic models. But one thing Bono won’t do is dis Radiohead, one of the few successful bands with any critical cachet whatsoever. So when McGuinness decided to call the Internet release of In Rainbows a failure, Bono felt it necessary to send a letter to NME making clear that while their manager doesn’t want the RIAA to consider these upstarts’ hair-brained schemes, U2 thinks the band are “courageous and imaginative,” etc., smooch smooch, let’s photo op with Barack sometime.
“I wanted to set the record straight on behalf of the members of U2 on comments made to the BBC by our much-loved and valued manager, Paul McGuinness, regarding Radiohead’s decision to make the music of ‘In Rainbows’ available as a download, using the ‘honesty box’ idea for payment.”
We agree with our manager that this is a head-scratching and worrisome time for many musicians who, unlike ourselves, are depending on royalty or publishing cheques to pay the rent (particularly songwriters). We also agree that it is disturbing to see internet service providers and technology companies profit from the so-called ‘disintermediation’ of the music business when so many music lovers are losing their jobs. And while there is no doubt that it’s extremely difficult for a new artist to get the kind of investment on which U2 depended in the first few wobbly years of recording, we disagree with Paul’s assessment of Radiohead’s release as “having backfired to a certain extent.” We think they were courageous and imaginative in trying to figure out some new relationship with their audience. Such imagination and courage are in short supply right now…they’re a sacred talent and we feel blessed to be around at the same time.”
And the potential for a co-headlining tour of stadiums (a green one, of course) is restored.