September 18, 2014 7:00 AM EDT

Bono doesn’t view his songs as children—they’re more like parents.

“They tell you what to do, they tell you how to behave,” the U2 singer told TIME. “These songs, we worked quite hard on them over the years, and we really didn’t want—they really didn’t want them to be ignored.”

The best way to get the world’s attention? Give the album, for free, to all 500 million iTunes users. The unique release of their latest album, Songs of Innocence, was announced at Apple’s event on Sept. 9.

In the video above, the members of U2 explain how the first album release of its kind came about.

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Write to Diane Tsai at

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