Will giving away their new album help persuade consumers to value music again?
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They’re used to playing marathon shows in sold-out arenas, but on the morning of Sept. 9, Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.—known collectively as the world-bestriding Irish band U2—performed a single song on a bare stage in a tired auditorium to a mere 2,300 geeks, investors and journalists.
The audience at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif., may have seemed inconsequential, but millions watched U2 on a live feed. Or tried to—the feed stuttered under the pressure of people logging on to discover what the tech giant Apple, the event’s host, was ready to reveal. Onstage, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the company’s heavily anticipated smart watch, then summoned the four rock stars to unleash…