10 Bands Apple Should Have Partnered With Instead of U2

In Customer Engagement, Featured on App, Marketing and Sales by Vaughn HighfieldLeave a Comment

Apple U2

Eww 2, and why Apple made the wrong choice

Cast your mind back to the first truly successful Apple product since the Apple II. The year is 2001 and an incredibly chunky device that could store 5gb of music hit the market. This was the iPod. Granted, it was largely unsuccessful until it made the jump to Windows PCs in 2004, but at the time it was the epitome of gadgetry perfection and the symbol of cool. It made sense that musicians and music labels wanted to be seen to be getting behind this – especially if they wanted to court a new generation of music listeners who might even consider downloading music through iTunes.

So, who better to do this than U2. Oh, wait, what? Even in 2004 (and then 2006 when it happened again) a U2 branded iPod seemed a little strange. They were still, of course, wonderfully well known and slightly cooler than they are ten years later when we see them being brand ambassadors for Apple’s new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

But who are Apple kidding? It’s 2014. Apple’s target userbase of purchasers aren’t U2 fans, and a simple search on Twitter for Apple and U2’s partnership doesn’t yield the most positive results. In fact, there are some particularly damning tweets out there:

While the issue for some people is the fact that Apple went ahead and gave them a free album without their consent – especially by automatically downloading it instead of putting it into their purchased songs list – the real issue from most searches seems to be that it’s a free U2 album. The key market of twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings who are true brand advocates just don’t identify themselves as U2 fans at all.

Apple are, by far, one of the biggest tech brands in the world. People want to know what they’re doing and lots of companies, brands, and bands would jump at the chance to work with them. So we’ve compiled 10 bands that give off that same vibe of being down with technology, accessible for a wide demographic, and actually enjoyable versus enduring U2’s desperate cry for attention as they drift out of cultural relevancy. Of course, it’s an eclectic mix as the ideal would be to work with multiple bands to cover a larger set of music lovers around the world. It’s also probably a better bet to have a smaller band associated with them to show that Apple is still about being at the forefront of the music scene and tapped into what its users are listening to most.

So, without further ado, here’s a possible top 10 compiled from Bilboard top 100, Spotify, Shazam and iTunes charts, some guesswork, and an avoidance of every band I actually like – along with some thoughts on why they’d fit.

Maroon 5

maroon 5
Bare with me. While I’m no fan of their music, Maroon 5 has a single in the Bilboard top 10. Lead singer Adam Levine is also somewhat of a YouTube known thanks to his personality, impressionist talents, and penchant for doing talk shows. While their music might certainly be wet, they’re definitely more culturally relevant than U2 and a whole lot more fun.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry
She’s a colourful and quirky character, and it’s undeniable that her pop songs aren’t catchy. A free Katy Perry album wouldn’t make my ears tingle with aural excitement, but it’s unlikely as many people would complain about having some cheery pop on their phones. She’s also got the brand presence and audience – albeit her target audience is on the younger end of Apple’s demographic.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran
He’s young, talented, and is having success in the US after having already won over UK audiences. His music is also wide enough to capture those who prefer soft acoustics and those who like catchy pop songs.


An odd entry, but seeing as his song “So Wake Me Up” was the most streamed song of the last year on Spotify with 200m streams under its belt and around 3.8 million per day increasing that record. While unexpected, if a lot of people got Avivii’s album for free, they’d probably be rather happy.

Pharrell Williams

pharrell williams
The man has been everywhere in the last year or so, so admittedly he would have probably been a more annoying aspect to an Apple conference. However, the man is clued up on fashion, music, and technology, so having him as a brand ambassador would have been smart. And, seeing as his album is hot as anything on the iTunes store, handing it out to more people (or a special new song/EP instead) would have definitely gone down better than U2’s.


While not very popular amongst the clued up music crowd, they’re such a globally massive band that by omitting them would be foolish. I can see the backlash already, but they are marginally more liked than U2 and Chris Martin is seen as less of an ass than Bono, and thus the entire band seems that little bit more relevant in the process.


It’s been a little while since we heard something from Adele, but she’s still got the catchy songs and Apple’s key market enamoured with her. Her interviews on YouTube have millions of views, and having someone with a less corporate attitude would have helped Apple’s image with the younger market.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift
Once again, she may be aimed at the younger end of Apple’s audience, but her songs are catchy and they get streamed and sell a lot too. It also helps that her dance moves and general persona get her adored on YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. If Apple had embraced Taylor’s talents, they’d certainly be getting more positive press around the music deal.

Kate Bush

Kate Bush
If Apple had wanted to stay with aged music icons then Kate Bush would definitely be the better choice. Her sold out 2014 tour shows she’s still loved, her new albums are widely regarded as being fresh and sell well to boot. Her persona is also loved by many in their 20s and 30s who are more obsessed with the kitsch vintage attitudes going around in fashion, music, and entertainment as a whole.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
Because, why not. The music industry brought Tupac Shakur (a.k.a 2Pac) back from the dead for Coachella 2012, so I’m sure Apple could afford to bring the king of pop back for a conference. That said, it’d be incredibly cringeworthy to watch…

While my personal list is actually drastically different, who would you have preferred to be working with Apple? And do you think brand advocates are as important as they appear to be?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below

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