U2 Manager Paul McGuiness Talks About Steve Jobs

As you might recall in the middle of the last decade, U2 and Apple teamed up to sell millions of iPods and U2 songs. It was a first for both bands – U2 had never sold their music for commercial usage, while Apple had never a non-white iPod (this was back in 2004). Apple created a specific red and black iPod, featuring the average U2 single Vertigo in the iPod commercials, and had pre-loaded U2’s catalogue of songs on these special iPods. Billboard reached U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness, to ask him about the passing of Steve Jobs and their business doings. You can read the entire interview here. Some highlights are below.

Billboard: What was he like to deal with in that regard [as a businessman]? There was this moment in his kitchen, for example, when the details of the U2 iPod were ironed out. You were there for that, yes?

Paul McGuiness (PM): Yeah. For the first time, we were allowing U2 music to be used in advertising. It was kind of generic for Apple, iPod, iTunes. It was like all their advertising-very elegant, beautiful. Effectively, he was putting a music video onto the TV screen and paying for it on a worldwide basis. There was no payment for that. But we got this massive worldwide exposure for our song. And that was the first . . . alongside that we could have the U2-branded iPod.

Billboard: How did that idea come to be?

PM: I can’t remember. I think it might have been Bono’s idea. There were a lot of ideas floating around at the time.

For example, there was the idea we might sell a preloaded iPod, with U2’s catalog on it. In fact, what we sold with the black-and-red, U2-branded iPod was unique. It was the first time they did something that wasn’t white. Until then Apple had a design policy, which was white only. The U2 iPod was a success. With it you got a digital coupon that allowed you to download the entire U2 catalog at a discount.

Billboard: In your role with U2 I’m sure you deal with many different styles of negotiators. How would you characterize Jobs in your business relationship?

PM: He was interested in doing what was right for his company. He had the strongest sense of what everything associated with Apple should look like, whether it was advertising, the store, of the product itself. He and Jonny [Ive, Apple senior VP of industrial design], who we’ve got to know quite well, they had an extraordinary aesthetic that ran through everything they did. Put them in a class of their own compared to all the other consumer electronics manufacturers. There is really no comparison between what they represent aesthetically and what the rest of that industry has come up with.

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