U2’s newest studio album, Songs of Experience, was released December 1. It has received lukewarm reviews from fans and critics alike, but Billboard reports that it will likely debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Why? Every concert ticket they sold on the corresponding tour included an album download, helping to account for the over 170,000 equivalent album units it’s on track to earn it its first week.
Tickets to U2’s eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour went on sale last month. Whether or not fans liked their fourteenth studio album, the band, with a decades-long career and established fan base, is still bound to sell out arenas – and they did. The tour made history as the first ever fully Ticketmaster Verified Fan on sale (or at least, they tried to; tickets are still available and no longer require access codes), and possibly as the recipient of the most angry and anxious tweets from hopeful ticket buyers, as well.
Knowing this would be the case, U2 employed the strategic ticket bundle tactic, in which each ticket sale included a copy of the new album, and each album redeemed as part of the bundle counts as a sale. Inquisitr says there is speculation that up to 40,000 copies of Songs of Experience have been redeemed, meaning bundles accounted for almost one quarter of all albums “sold”.
Artists who have used ticket/tour bundles before (Kenny Chesney, Katy Perry, P!NK) have seen second week sales drop by up to 80 to 90 percent. This trend may well continue with Songs of Experience considering what some people have to say about it.
Pitchfork rates the album 5.3/10, calling it “the shameless effort of four men in their late 50s to muster a contemporary, youthful sound”. The AV Club says Songs of Experience is an “insufferable” album that “few U2 fans will remember, let alone sing along to, in 20 years”, and NME notes that, unlike its prequel, Songs of Innocence, which was infamously forced on all iOS devices sans request, this one “won’t mysteriously appear on your iPhone, which is probably for the best”.
On community-built review database Rate Your Music, the album got a 2.62/5 based on 331 ratings. Here’s what a few Twitter users had to say:
Sorry, but I’d say the worst U2 album released. Just doesn’t do it for me….. sorry again.
— Paul Saunders (@psmariners) December 7, 2017
I‘m not really getting into U2‘s new album. It‘s sad because they were my most favourite band like forever, but they last albums were…. ?
— Kathrin (@strallakind212) December 7, 2017
Three things on this dying planet are certain: death, taxes and the reliable appearance of a new U2 album every three to five years until the end of time.
— Hélder (@Helder_odrigues) December 7, 2017
Whether or not bad reviews and good sales is considered a success in the eyes of U2, kudos to them for a career that continues to, at least financially, prosper after forty years.