U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, will be released on October 14, but iTunes users can own it now for free. Today, U2 both announced and released the record at an Apple launch event promoting the release of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. Apple then gifted Songs of Innocence to its half a billion iTunes customers worldwide. Apple CEO Tim Cook calls it “the largest album release of all time.” The album will be an Apple exclusive until the October 14 physical release, which will come with a 24-page booklet (there will also be a deluxe album edition, containing an acoustic session of select songs from the album plus four additional tracks).
The new album, U2’s 13th album, gathers the band’s earliest influences, including ’70s rock and punk as well as early ’80s ambient and electronica. Recorded in Dublin, London, New York and Los Angeles, with production work from Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood, the album’s creation seems to be just as grandiose as today’s launch.