It has been a whirlwind nine months for Guy Oseary since he took the reins of U2’s management after longtime manager Paul McGuinness announced his retirement last fall. Oseary, 41, rang Billboard on Sept. 11 to answer some questions about the launch, and what’s next.
Songs of Innocence is being touted as the biggest album launch of all time. How did you get to this point?
U2 worked five years on this album and we’re really confident with it. The goal was how do we reach as many people as possible? U2 first worked with Apple nearly 10 years ago, and here we are 10 years later with Apple gifting this album to 7 percent of the planet.
The Apple deal was significant for U2, but how could other artists potentially benefit?
Any sort of innovation may inspire other people. We may see someone going, “Hey, what can we do that’s interesting with our lyrics or our videos or something interactive with the ticketing to our shows?”
Bono emphasized that the band was paid by Apple for the album and a $100 million ad campaign is in progress. But is there an altruistic component?
Apple’s very private about their philanthropic work, but they’ve done a lot for (RED). They’ve given $70 million to $90 million to saving lives, and while I was at the event I counted two times where two (RED) products were actually promoted at the event.
You gave away an album to 500 million people. How do you turn those free customers into album buyers a month from now?
This is all new territory, but we have four brand-new songs [for] the deluxe edition, which is a killer package. And it’s early days. You can’t look at the standard [album] as one piece of this puzzle, you have to look at whether we reached as many as possible. Are people buying the catalog all of a sudden? The answer is yes.