Friday, November 29, 2013

U2 Explain Their ‘Complicated Love Song’ For ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

Ireland and South Africa came together when the biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” held a screening at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City co-hosted by the Irish rock band U2. Among the notable people in attendance were Idris Elba (who stars as South African leader Nelson Mandela), Naomie Harris (who plays his wife Winnie), producer Harvey Weinstein (a co-host of the evening), Vogue editor Anna Wintour (another co-host), and U2 members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr.

Speakeasy talked to U2 shortly before the screening about the song they recorded for “Mandela” titled “Ordinary Love,” and about the group’s coming album. The Edge confirmed that a new U2 album is on the way, but said they had yet to pick a release date. The band’s sessions were interrupted by one of the few things that could have pulled them away–the chance to record a theme song for “Mandela.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Management Shuffle Signals End of U2′s Beautiful Day

Paul McGuinness U2

Paul McGuinness could never break another hit act — and usually the mark of a great manager is the ability to do it more than once. That’s the downfall of the music business: the belief that suits count more than artists.

Credit McGuinness with building U2.

But now’s a good time to get out, because the band is at a crossroads. It took all the money out of the market with a multiyear stadium trek and, without a hit single, it will probably never be able to tour at this scale again.

Hits are what U2 is dependent upon if it wants to keep the mantle of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, which it stole from the Stones decades ago, even if Mick Jagger doesn’t know that.

But rock is dead. At least on Top-40 radio, where hits are made.

What’s a poor boy to do?

Become a venture capitalist, like Bono did with Roger McNamee and Elevation.

Or try and save the world, which Bono is also doing.

But if he wants to stay a relevant musician, that’s a much harder goal to achieve.

But he’s got Guy Oseary in his corner! Oseary becomes the manager of U2 with McGuinness’ sale of Principle Management to Live Nation.

To believe Oseary is a great manager is to think Metallica svengali Cliff Burnstein can front a band, and Irving Azoff can play in the NBA. What Oseary does best is get into the head of Madonna and make her believe he’s indispensable, which he’s not. Madge has had a series of managers since she broke through, even the aforementioned Mr. Burnstein, who helped her stay relevant with “Ray of Light.”

But Madonna’s relevant no more. It pains her, but athletes retire. And in music, the game changes. It’s less about age than fads and desire and other elements elder people just can’t keep up with, and oftentimes look bad trying to. If you’re not willing to admit your age, you’re gonna have a hard time in popular culture.

And so often music is youth culture.

And you can tour to your core, but as you age that core cannot fill stadiums — not usually.

If you know McGuinness, he’s a force of nature. Someone who’s all what he’s promoting, 24/7. It’s not easy to find someone like that, who lives and dies for you. He’s essentially Col. Parker, but with a fairer deal and a worldwide viewpoint.

In other words, no one’s gonna care as much.

So U2 has lost its rudder.

And although Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel is brilliant at what he does — one of the absolute best — U2’s problem is not touring financials so much as creative issues.

Music has always operated best when unrestricted. When those involved were free to reinvent the wheel at their leisure, to test limits, be offensive and charm us all at the same time.

Tying up with Live Nation is no different from selling out to Google or Microsoft. You’ll get paid, but you’ll lose control. Happens every day: The founders get frustrated and leave, and their products often go into decline.

But music is not a mere product. When done right, it’s not evanescent. It pricks our hearts and stimulates our brains and makes us believe life is worth living.

Bono once had that power. He’s sacrificed it. So goodbye ’80s rock. And goodbye ’80s pop, too. We’re in a new era where the most stimulating productions emanate from bedrooms, get traction on YouTube and are shared virally by the general public.

There’s business and there’s music. Business ain’t bad. But music’s in sad shape.

Because everybody’s looking to sell out.

UK votes U2's Beautiful Day most popular anthem

Britain is a nation of happiness and inspiration seekers when it comes to music with a whopping nine out of ten people (95 per cent) boldly claiming that tunes have the power to evoke happy memories. Music's ability to rouse and move also scored similarly highly with 93 per cent of people regarding their favourite song as inspiring.

The research, conducted on behalf of cruise company Royal Caribbean International, also found that we are a nation of passionate music lovers with three-quarters of people (74 per cent) stating that music is important to them. People also agreed that music enhanced memories with over a third (31 per cent) re-living their favourite holiday memories on cue to a particular track.

Broadcaster, Lauren Laverne, said 'I think an anthem should be uplifting, as well as something we can sing along to ' and the choices reflect that brilliantly. We all have a song that captured our hearts and stays with us, so it's great to see a mix of the old and new, with classic Beatles up there alongside Robbie. And I'm delighted the research showed that women love music even more than the men ' banishing the myth that when it comes to rock n roll, boys know best.'

The research coincides with the announcement that new ship, Anthem of the Seas, will become the most entertainment-dedicated and technologically advanced cruise ship ever to be based in the UK when it launches in spring 2015.

As part of the research, music industry expert, author and DJ, Stuart Maconie, selected five anthems ' both recently popular and traditional ' and asked the nation to choose the song that makes them the happiest. The top three tunes ' U2's Beautiful Day with 36 per cent of the vote; the Beatles' Hey Jude with 28 per cent of the vote; and Hubert Parry's Jerusalem with 22 per cent ' reflect the diversity of tunes that reach anthem status.

When choosing an anthem, people were also asked what qualifies a piece of music to become anthemic in status. Music's clear association with optimism was also evident in the results with 44 per cent looking for a song to rouse their spirits, and 23 per cent after a song that brings people together. Just seven per cent of people looked for a tune that they could sing along to, reinforcing that a strong anthem is more than just a catchy song.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


U2 is one of a couple dozen major artists to contribute a song to Songs For The Philippines, a new charity relief album that's available on iTunes. The 39-track album is selling for $9.99, with all proceeds going to the Philippines Red Cross and its relief efforts after the recent typhoon.
U2's "In A Little While" is the fourth track on the album -- it's the same version of the song that appeared on All That You Can't Leave Behind. Other artists on the album include The Beatles, Eminem, Muse, Adele and too many more to mention.


U2 al completo en New York en la premiere de 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

All four members of U2 were on hand Monday night for a special New York City screening of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the upcoming film that features their new song, "Ordinary Love," on the soundtrack. Bono was among those who spoke inside the theater before the film began. 

"Ordinary Love" in Vinyl

u2 ordinary love vinilo

"Ordinary Love", the song U2 made for the biopic Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, has been released in vinyl by Interscope Records.

Danger Mouse(Brian Burton) appears in the credits as producer of the new song  and side B song, "Breathe" is produced by Declan Gaffney.

Both were recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York.

The cover has been made by  and is based on Oliver Jeffers' art.

U2 ‎– Ordinary Love
Label:Interscope Records ‎– B0019655-11
Format:Vinyl, 10″, 33 ⅓ RPM, Limited Edition
Released:29 Nov 2013
Style:Alternative Rock, Indie Rock
A Ordinary Love 3:39
Additional Backing Vocals By – Angel Deradoorian
Additional Production By – Declan Gaffney
Additional Recording By – Grant Ransom, Ben Baptie and Barry Gorey
Additional Synths and Piano By – Declan Gaffney and Brian Burton
Assisted By – Ben Baptie
Backing Vocals By – Edge and Larry Mullen Jr, The
Lyrics By – Bono
Mixed At – Electric Lady Studios, New York
Mixed By – Tom Elmhirst and Danger Mouse
Music By – U2 & Brian Burton
Producer – Danger Mouse
Wurlitzer and Synth By – Barry Gorey
B Breathe (Mandela Version) 4:02

Assistant Engineer – “Classy” Joe Visciano
Backing Vocals By – Edge, Larry Mullen Jr, and Adam Clayton, The
Lyrics By – Bono
Music By – U2
Producer – Declan Gaffney
Recorded At – Electric Lady Studios, New York

(RED) Auction 2013 at Sotheby’s

bono y chris martin en la subasta en Sotheby's de Red

Big money was spent and a big collaboration was sung on Saturday night at the (RED) auction at Sotheby's in New York City.

The event, a joint effort between Bono and designers Jony Ive (Apple) and Marc Newson, reportedly raised almost $13 million -- which was apparently then doubled with a donation from Bill Gates. The money will benefit the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa.
The Edge, Niles Rodgers y Angelique Kidjo interpretando Get Lucky de Daft Punk, RED Sotheby's
 Before the auction began, Bono and The Edge took part in a jam session of sorts, performing a cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" with Angelique Kidjo, Nile Rodgers and his band, Chic. 

Then, during the auction itself, Bono and Chris Martin did a couple of songs on a piano that was being auctioned. With Martin on the piano bench and Bono standing behind, the pair sung a cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and then did U2's "Beautiful Day." 

Bono and The Edge were back on stage with Kidjo and Rodgers during the afterparty, singing Chic's "Good Times"  and  a cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance." 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bill Gates And Bono On Their Alliance Of Fortune, Fame And Giving

This story appears in the December 2, 2013 issue of Forbes.

Forbes: While you two are an odd pairing on paper, I have a theory that you were separated at birth–there are more similarities than you might think.

Forbes: You both played chess growing up. You both started college–neither of you finished it. You both built global businesses. You both were affected deeply by your first trips to Africa–Bono after Live Aid, and Bill before your honeymoon with Melinda on safari–and you both consider Nelson Mandela one of your top heroes.

So given this, Bill, true or false: The first time you had a chance to meet Bono you didn’t really want to because you thought it would be a waste of time?

Bill Gates: Yeah, we have a mutual friend, Paul Allen, and Paul said to me several times, “You know, Bono is really serious about poverty and the stuff you’re working on; you should talk to him.” And I have to admit, I did not make it a priority. And then there was a Davos [meeting] that was in New York after 9/11, so Bono, Bill Clinton and I met, and I was kind of amazed that he actually knew what he was talking about and had a real commitment to making things happen. It was phenomenal. Ever since then we’ve been big partners in crime.
Bill Gates and Bono at the second annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, United Nations, New York (Credit: Glen Davis)
Forbes: Bono, you’ve said that you’ve learned a lot from Bill. What has he taught you, and why did you seek him out?

Bono: Before I tell you what I learned from Bill, I’ll tell you what I taught him. It’s an interesting story about not judging your friends. I said to Paul Allen, “Would you help me get to Bill Gates? Because we really need to professionalize our operation, and we need funding, and I know that he’s interested in the same things that we are, and Melinda, too.” Paul’s a kind of shy guy, but he usually answers my e-mails, and he stopped answering them. Actually, I got a little cross with Paul, and I said, “Well, that’s not very nice.” This is the one thing I’ve ever asked him to do.

I had no idea, of course, that he’d been asking Bill, but Bill was actually like, “No, I don’t want to meet him! It’s Sonny Bono, or whatever.”

I went up to see Bill and Melinda, and I said, “Look, we have an organization, and we’ve got very, very smart people. Brilliant people. But we need to professionalize.” President Bush had taken over the White House. Our rather relaxed attire going into Bill Clinton’s White House we felt was no longer appropriate, and we really needed to be more formal. So we got a million dollars from Bill [Gates]. And then he later told the New York Times or somebody that that was the best million dollars he ever spent. That’s a great compliment, coming from Bill Gates, and it makes funding a lot easier.

But what was shocking for me as an activist was to learn how important the role of commerce was in ending extreme poverty and the role that entrepreneurial capitalism has played in taking people out of extreme poverty. Right now capitalism is in the dark. It’s on trial. There’s a sense of the “us” and “them,” the 99%, the 1%, those who’ve gamed the situation, those who’ve been screwed by the situation. Some of these accusations, of course, are ridiculously far-fetched. But some of them are not. It’s critical that [entrepreneurial philanthropy] somehow coheres in the 21st century into a new sort of shape and form. What I learned from Bill and Melinda is that it wasn’t just going to be their cash that would be put to work but that the most important thing that they would contribute would be their brainpower.

Forbes: Bono, I believe you have called yourself an “adventure capitalist.” Maybe talk a little about RED, where you’re taking your advocacy and tying it into commerce to promote change and raise a tremendous amount of money.

Bono: I remember going to see Bob Rubin just after he left being Treasury Secretary. We asked him his advice on tackling HIV/ AIDS. And he said, “You know, if you want to move the dial on this, you’ve got to go about it like Nike almost. You’ve got to explain to, say, America the scale of the problem and how the problem can be solved. And you’ll probably have to spend $50 million doing that, the same way Nike spent marketing their ideas.” I said, “Bob, where do we get $50 million?” He said, “That’s your problem!”

We formed RED. And now RED, with the help of the Gates Foundation–by the way I couldn’t do anything I do without the Gates Foundation–was an attempt to sort of piggyback the great companies like Apple or Microsoft, Armani, the fashion company, Starbucks. At the French Open all the great tennis players came out with their red tennis rackets, because the Head company has gone RED. So we use RED not just to raise the… I think it’s $207 million we have raised so far to buy AIDS drugs for those people who can’t afford them–but to create heat and excitement around the issue of solving the problem. When lawmakers met in Congress in difficult times they would feel heat. We used to get this thing up on the Hill here in the U.S., and [they weren't] feeling that one, that AIDS emergency. So we wanted to be in shopping malls, where they would feel it. When they walked down the street and saw a Gap T-shirt, they’d feel it. When it comes to appropriations–and this year was a struggle to get funding for the Global Fund [which provides money to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria]–the heat is very important. That’s what RED does. It creates heat, so that when the other organization, ONE, can actually go in Berlin, in France, in Paris, in London, we go after the big government budgets and tackle it that way.

Forbes: Bono is the activist who’s become a capitalist. Bill, you’re one of the alltime capitalists and philanthropists who’s now had to increase how much you work with governments. Can entrepreneurial philanthropy and activism be practiced purely, or do they inherently need to be merged?

Gates: I think the key to all philanthropy is how you unlock the much larger sectors–the government sector and the business sector. Say you have a goal, like reducing the number of children under 5 who die every year. The direct philanthropy in terms of inventing vaccines, buying vaccines, getting them delivered, isn’t really going to make a big dent in that problem. Unless you get the brilliant minds of the pharmaceutical companies engaged in the invention, unless you get the government aid budgets from the generous rich countries engaged, and unless you get the people on the ground–which in many cases are working with the developing country and how they train and manage all these primary health care workers. Unless you’re deeply engaged with that, you’re probably not going to have a big impact.

There are pieces, like some of the research, like the malaria vaccine piece, where philanthropy actually can fund a very substantial, even the majority of that. But when you get into the delivery mode, the $130 billion a year of government aid budgets focused on these poor countries, making sure that gets used the right way, that it’s not being cut because of budget problems and that you’re drawing in the power of the private sector that’s developing these countries–that’s part of how you’re going to win and get that number to drop in half in the next 15 years.

Forbes: Corruption is such a big part of it. How do you make sure that the money you put into these countries isn’t just propping up bad governments?

Gates: Well, it depends on how measurable the sector you’re operating in is. In the case of health, figuring out how many people survived by getting HIV drugs is pretty straightforward. Figuring out your vaccine coverage that reduces measles, that’s down from over a million a year to $300,000 a year. That is one of the most straightforward things. And because you buy the vaccines and ship them into the country, you know you’re controlling that procurement piece–you have a little bit of training money, a little bit of labor money, maybe a few percent of that can go astray.

But it’s not like building a road, when you send money to the government and no road shows up, or you know you’re paying twice as much for it. The health and agricultural sectors, which are very critical to the poorest–getting the health right, the nutrition right–those things actually you can operate in a mode where at most corruption would be 5%, and if you can’t withstand a few percent, like someone who came to the training session, then you’re an idealist who really doesn’t belong in the game of helping poor countries.

Bono: There’s a cure for that disease of corruption. There’s a vaccine, at least. We call it transparency. One of the things we’ve been working on in the ONE Campaign, and have been working on with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates, is a revolution. A transparency revolution. This wave of transparency is coming through all manners of commerce, just bringing daylight so that people can see what’s going on in those transactions and judge for themselves if their governments are dealing with them fairly.

Forbes: Hand in hand with transparency, of course, are numbers. Bono, you recently have come out of the closet: You’ve admitted you’re a numbers geek. Talk a bit about “factivism.”

Bono: Well, that’s just me pretending to be Bill. I’m Irish; we do emotion very well. You’re just experiencing some of it, and it can go on and on and on! I’ve learned to be an evidence-based activist, to cut through the crap, find out what works and find out what doesn’t work. Repeat what works, increase it and stop doing what doesn’t work. I don’t come from a hippie tradition of let’s-all-hold-hands and the world’s going to be a better place. My thing’s much more punk rock.

I enjoy the math, actually. The math is incredible! I was telling people recently there are 9 million people on AIDS medication. In 2003 there was 50,000. This is the most extraordinary thing. I just want to give thanks to the taxpayers who are paying for that. Because this is a remarkable thing. Numbers work. In the last ten years infant mortality is down. I think it’s 7,256 less deaths a day. That’s down from 9.4 million to 7.2, something like that. I love these numbers. These are sexy numbers. They rhyme somewhere in my head.

Forbes: Okay, so based on numbers and data, what’s the biggest course change either of you made?

Gates: You’re always learning–field visits, meeting with scientists, looking at the numbers; it’s a collage of those things that come together. For our health work, it’s been figuring out how primary health care systems can be really well run–and that gets you the vaccine coverage, it teaches the mother about things to do before birth and after birth, the nutrition things, the reproductive health supplies. It’s amazing how some countries spend very little on their primary health care system and they get 95% of the kids vaccinated, and some spend a lot more and get 30% vaccinated. So the importance of personnel systems and helping get those right, the measurement, training, hiring.

In our U.S. education work, it’s been the most dramatic where we’ve been focused on school structure in the first four years and not so much on helping the teachers learn from the very, very good teachers. And that shifted around, because we saw about 10% or 15% improvements with the thing we called the small schools initiative–that just wasn’t going to be enough. So we got very focused on how do teachers get feedback, what are the exemplars doing right, can you help people improve–essentially, their personnel system and not just the compensation piece, because that turns out to be secondary to the idea of professional development, analysis and measurement. It’s kind of obvious at this point, but it took a lot of time and money to have that be a primary model that we apply.

Bono: Applying transparency to development, actually, was a big lesson for us. It’s strange, but the two parties most important in the transaction that we call development assistance are the two sides of the equation who know the least about it. The taxpayer and the child who’s been vaccinated or the student who sits in a class. That has got to change. And I think it will be wonderful when it does.

I remember, for instance, we worked on debt cancelation, and we were in a ghetto outside of Accra. There were no latrines for, whatever it was, 80,000 people living there. And years later, after fighting for debt cancelation and having this money well spent by the Ghanaian government, I saw the latrines! I was like, “Wow, I have to use these!” I went in, if you’ll excuse me, and I’m standing there and I look up on the wall, and it says “Paid for by HIPC.” HIPC. What’s HIPC? Well, I’ll tell you what HIPC is. HIPC was the UN’s idea for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. And they were largely leading the vanguard on this debt cancelation. But that was their signage! Does anyone know what that was?

In the Oval Office with President Bush before the AIDS initiative, I remember saying to him, “You can paint those pills red, white and blue if you have to, Mr. President. If you do this, this will be the best advertisement for the United States ever.” And it has been.

Forbes: If this rock thing doesn’t work out, I’m sure K Street has a job for you. I know you come from a family of salesmen–you’ve become maybe the most effective lobbyist in the world. How have you embraced that?

Bono: Well, thank you. It’s the ideas that win the day, and when we go for a meeting with Angela Merkel, say, a couple of months ago or together, me and Bill, went to see pretty much most of the French government a few months ago, we tried to bring ideas with us that will solve the problem that we are presenting. Our strategy, you could call it sort of inside-game maneuvering with those ideas–but then outside mobilization, so there’s always a moment where you can lean in with the policymaker and just say, if they are being rude to you: “Coming to a stadium near you. … ”

Forbes: Last question. There’s a lot of pressure on you guys, as people expect big things. Do your amazing first acts create self-imposed pressure for your second acts?

Gates: Well, yes. But that’s fun. You have the possibility to fail. I think Warren’s generosity to the foundation made that even more acute, because if it’s money that you made yourself, it’s like “Okay, I have a right to make a mistake.” With his money, even though he’s been nice enough to say it’s okay to fail, I don’t feel like I should. It’s kind of fun. You want to wake up in the morning thinking, Am I working hard enough? Am I thinking hard enough? Have I found the right people? Why isn’t this thing that I thought would go well not going well? That’s kind of a dynamic thing, and I feel glad that that kind of challenge–philanthropy has that every bit as much as my previous work did.

Bono: I haven’t left my day job yet, though there’s always this possibility when U2 puts out an album that no one will be there to buy it. And according to my band, if I keep doing these type of events, that’s going to be closer than we thought. I have a tricky one, you know, because I have to balance being an artist, which is my gift, and being this salesperson. In U2, I sell melodies, I sell songs. Here I try to sell ideas, but I have to believe in them, and then I’m a pretty good salesman. There is a huge pressure in not wanting to screw up the position that you’ve been put in. I do feel that, and I know that everyone in ONE feels that and everyone in RED feels that, because we’re serving. Though Nelson Mandela asked us to serve and Desmond Tutu threatened us on a regular basis that if we stop serving we wouldn’t go to heaven, the pressure is internal, as Bill says.

In this kind of work you do see people crack under that because these are matters of life and death a lot of the time. So it’s lucky that we get to, Bill and myself, drink heavily. That’s a joke. But we actually do have a lot of fun doing this. It’s very exciting to see the progress that’s been made in the last ten years. And you get to hang out with Warren Buffett, who is a comedian.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

U2 and Paul McGuinness: the end of the affair

When Paul McGuinness began managing U2, in 1978, they were playing in car parks. This week he announced he would no longer be the ‘fifth member’ of the most successful live band of all time. Why?

Him too: Paul McGuinness (back) with U2 at an Island Records party in 1980. Photograph: L Cohen/WireImage/Getty
 Paul McGuinness (back) with U2 at an Island Records party in 1980. Photograph: L Cohen/WireImage/Getty

It was music’s Alex Ferguson moment: the guiding hand of a high-achieving corporation standing down after a long and hugely successful tenure. The 35-year relationship between Paul McGuinness and U2, which saw the band go from playing from the back of a van in a Dublin car park to becoming the most successful live touring band of all time, ended rather mutely this week with McGuinness selling his Principle Management company to the concert promoter Live Nation.
As with Ferguson, the 62-year-old is moving upstairs, to become chairman of Principle. Day-to-day management is being taken over by Guy Oseary, who also manages Madonna.
McGuinness made a statement to the New York Times that suggested his age was a factor in the decision. “It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock ’n’ roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career.”
Oseary has been in place for a few weeks. McGuinness told the band two years ago that he was considering standing down. After three and a half decades in the rock ’n’ roll trenches and with a new album and world tour ready to go next year, it’s entirely possible that McGuinness decided he had had enough of the long days that managing one of the world’s biggest bands entails.
It was a surprise to some that U2’s official website and Facebook and Twitter accounts had nothing to say about their manager’s departure once news broke on Wednesday that he was standing down.
By the time Weekend Review went to press yesterday the band had made no statement to the media in general, and neither they nor McGuinness had responded to questions from The Irish Times.
Some see the absence of a valedictory statement from the band as bad form. “McGuinness deserves better than this,” says one observer who has had close links with the band for many years. “The failure of the band to issue a statement has not gone unnoticed in the industry.”
This does not necessarily point to strained relations between U2 and their former manager. There has been no official confirmation of the deal by Live Nation, so the band might regard a statement as premature.
“Paul fought, fought and fought again for the band,” says one person who has worked with McGuinness and knows him well personally. “He would be the one up early and still at work late at night, arguing with local police chiefs and mayors about stage times and curfews. He was more than loyal, and he literally kept the band together at times. He’s an absolute gentleman who will defend U2 to the death.”

All one needs to know about what McGuinness did for U2 is to consider that Bruce Springsteen refers to his manager, Jon Landau, as the American Paul McGuinness.
In May 1978 a new band then known as The Hype were playing at Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Even then they had ideas about themselves. Paul Hewson, David Evans, Larry Mullen jnr and Adam Clayton figured they needed a manager to get them a record deal.
McGuinness was in the audience that night and was impressed by the inchoate new-wave noise he heard from the stage. Taking them to the Granary pub next door, where the members of U2 were too young to be served alcohol, he immediately impressed the ambitious, wide-eyed northsiders by telling them how to handle all the money that would inevitably flow in once they had an album in the shops.
He talked sagely about how The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had run into problems by not sharing their income equally between the band’s songwriting and nonsongwriting members. He persuaded them to share everything. “It has stood them in very good stead, because it backs up the democracy of a decision if everyone’s making the same amount of money,” he later said.
He also negotiated an equal 20 per cent of U2’s income for himself. For a long time he was, very unusually, paid as if he were part of the band. “This was reviewed later on. There should always be a division between client and manager,” he has said.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bono: “Information, and the knowledge that flows from it, has enormous power to challenge inequality”


On 8 November, Bono presented the ONE Africa Award, which each year honours an African civil society organisation, before an audience of media leaders and journalist at the conclusion of the African Media Leaders Forum in Addis Ababa. 
Incredibly I’ve been coming to Ethiopia for more than half my life.  I say “incredibly” because in truth I still think of myself as 25.  It’s a rockstar’s disease – we are encouraged not to grow up.
But I’ve been visiting here since the mid-1980s, and I really think there’s never been a more exciting time.  You can feel it.  It’s electric, and rockstars love electricity. I heard a local band last night with lots of electricity and talent – Jano.
It’s great to be here at a moment of transformation here in Addis, and here in Africa generally.  Economically, socially, culturally, medically, technologically.  Huge transformation.
And the rest of the world is starting to see it.  The world is waking up to how extraordinarily wealthy the continent of Africa is in terms of its people, not just its resources.  And that’s a big shift in the north, because all we heard for years and years was how poor you all were.
And being honest, I was complicit in this; dramatising the situation to make sure that the poorest people didn’t get forgotten. And again, to be brutally honest, to break through our own indifference.  Some used a kind of poverty pornography to break through the noise to get our own governments to do less of what hurt, and more of what helped.
We fought to cancel cold war debts. We fought for funding for HIV/AIDS. We thought it absurd that what was a manageable disease for rich people was a death sentence for poor people.
We weren’t remotely interested in charity by the way, we were interested in justice.  In our heads, you don’t need charity if justice is done. Now the meaning of justice in the 21st century may not have changed—but the ways of achieving it sure have.
Which is where we get to another transformation.  The transformation of the media, and the technology that’s turbo charging it.
None of this is news to you because—well, you write the news!  Traditional models of journalism are changing.  This is true not just in Africa, of course, but where I come from as well.  When almost everyone’s got a phone—and everyone with a phone is a broadcaster—what does it even mean to be a journalist today?
I know it’s a little early in the day to get existential on you, but bear with me a moment.  The demand for information and the flow of information are unstoppable.  We know this.  But what’s still in short supply is what you provide.  Analysis.  Intelligence.  Interpretation.
In other words: not just volume of information, but quality of information.
This, if you want to know my view, is what it means to be a journalist today.  Using your professional insight to turn information into knowledge.
People, citizens, fact-based activists, the “factivists”, are depending on that.  They’re demanding access to information that affects their lives.  Economic development, social progress, human health – all this depends on open data.  Not raw data, necessarily, but open data. Dug up in many cases by your efforts and made useful, made intelligible, by your analysis.
That’s how the transformation of media is helping drive the other transformations.  The quality of governance depends on the quality of civil society, and the quality of civil society depends on the quality—the accuracy, the relevance—of information.
I’d like to pause on an issue that ONE has been working on, with the great Mo Ibrahim, to make sure that at least some of the wealth under the ground in resource-rich countries like Ethiopia ends up in the hands of the people living above it.
We were responding to civil society groups over here demanding transparency – demanding that we join with them in tackling corruption north and south of the equator.
ONE, working with Publish What You Pay, were thrilled to get a law passed in the US and the EU that forced all oil companies on those stock exchanges to reveal who they’re paying, for what, and where. Project by project, no exemptions.
We were thrilled.  The oil companies were not. In fact the American Petroleum Institute has taken legal action to challenge this.  In the US, they sued the SEC, presumably because they want to carry on their dealings in the dark.  The court ruled in their favour. For the moment.
Are they blocking this because they understand a very simple equation?
Transparency plus insight equals transformation.
Why do oil companies not want the public to know how much they are paying for drilling rights?  Why is opacity so important to big business?
Capital flight is always at night, in the dark. Phantom companies, with more wealth than some governments, can’t stand the daylight that would unmask who owns them.
We now know corporate and government corruption is killing more kids than any disease. But guess what?  There is a vaccine and it is transparency.
We used to be known as the ‘get the cheque’ people.  We’re still that, but now we are also the ‘follow the money’ people. And by we, I really mean YOU.
Which brings me to another equation:  the relationship between freedom of information, stability and security. A little bit of a hot button topic at this conference.
I know where I stand on this, and over the week as I meet with the leadership I’ll be respectfully raising it.  As I did with Prime Minister Meles, whom I was honoured to call a friend. The great thing about friendship is you can agree on some things and disagree on others.  And we did.
Where I stand is that information, and the knowledge that flows from it, has enormous power to challenge inequality. Of course, it has enormous power to challenge everything—the whole order of things—which is why countries have often tried to control information.  And when that doesn’t work, governments have tried to control journalists.
This is not good politics. Actually this is just not good.  Full Stop. It’s also not the right thing to do.  And let’s face it, today it’s becoming a physical impossibility, wherever you are in the world.
To try and pretend the revolution in information technology isn’t happening is like King Canute putting up his hand to try and stop the waves. You can’t stop the waves, they are tidal waves.  I would encourage this government, which has done such incredible work on human development, to surf these waves. Not to fear journalism, but to encourage it.
Ethiopia has a story worth telling.  A story the rest of the world should hear.  The story of business leaders creating jobs, fighting and winning market share against the obstacles. The story of activists campaigning – and more and more succeeding – to keep their government honest.  The government’s story of incredible success in halving extreme poverty and hunger in the last twenty years.
This government needs all these stories to be told.
Thank you.

U2: what will $30m management deal mean?

U2 are being taken over by Live Nation and Madonna's manager in a $30 million deal. Will this lead to a disco mix of Bono Don’t Preach, wonders Neil McCormick

U2 are under new management

By Neil McCormick

U2 are under new management. The flag-waving rock megabrand are being taken over by the biggest concert promotion company in the world, Live Nation, in a $30 million deal.
Paul McGuinness, the charismatic manager who has steered their career from the beginning, is being kicked upstairs, to an ill-defined “chairman” role, which even he has likened to retirement.
Perhaps adding to the sense that this is a some kind of sinister corporate manoeuvre exposing the venal heart of the world’s most famous rock idealists is the news that Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, is in line to take over the day-to-day running of the U2 operation (whilst continuing to oversee the career of his solo superstar).
So what does this mean for the outspoken Irish rock legends? Will Bono be next seen posing naked but for strategically placed sunglasses in a high-fashion photo book? Will Madonna and U2 be marketed as a megastar double bill with the highest ticket prices in the known universe and a disco mix of Bono Don’t Preach? Or will it just be (music) business as usual?

When news of the proposed sale of U2’s Principle Management broke, McGuinness released a droll statement admitting that “it could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock ’n’ roll code of conduct.” At 63 years old, he says he wants to take “a less hands-on role”.
Like most managers, McGuinness is a little older than his charges (Bono is 53). McGuinness has grown wealthy steering U2’s ship, but he has also suffered periods of ill-health. With the band rumoured to be gearing up for yet another album and tour, he has perhaps wisely decided it is time for a younger man to take the reins (Oseary is 41).
Judging by U2 messageboards and Twitter chatter, their fan base is quite perturbed by these events. For what it’s worth, from the vantage point of someone who has seen this grow from a one-man operation run from McGuinness’s home phone, I don’t think there will be much change. Everyone knows Bono really runs the band.
Or rather, Bono leads the band, in terms of spirit, big ideas, charisma and energy. Guitarist Edge takes the lead musically. Bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr tend to be the sage counsellors steadying the ship. Every major decision is made by democratic vote, although, as Mullen has pointed out, “only in the classic Greek sense that a democracy is in the hands of those in power. If you are in a band with someone as loud, talkative, argumentative and persuasive as Bono, things can be kind of difficult for the rest of us.”
McGuinness is the fifth member of the U2 cabal, with an equal share of the profits, and an equal vote at the table. I don’t expect that to change a great deal. McGuinness will still be available for big-picture strategising, which has always been his great strength, to balance the band’s artistic impulses with the fundamental principle that they are a business, and what they do has to make money. It might seem obvious but any experience of the giddy flamboyance of rock and roll management will tell you this is not always the case.

The Reaction: how manager mastered music industry

DJ  Dave Fanning believes that Paul McGuinness is "the living template" of how to master the music industry.

McGuinness (64) confirmed yesterday that he is to leave his role after more than 30 years, as part of a deal which will see Live Nation buy the management teams of U2 and Madonna.

Radio DJ Fanning is a close friend of the band, after establishing a relationship with U2 when they performed on his very first live session on 2FM in 1979.

"Paul was never the guy in the studio, overseeing things like a producer; he went out and did the business of making U2 as big as they are," Fanning said.

"He went to London and used it as a stepping-stone to get them to America and further.

"All of the bands I talk to see Paul as the template, the real man who did it all and made it. He did an incredible job with U2.

"It's a big change for the band, but they've been working with Live Nation for years and that arrangement has worked out very, very well," the RTE anchor said. Madonna's manager Guy Oseary is expected to take over day-to-day management of U2.

Fanning told this newspaper that McGuinness "obviously has huge faith" in his soon-to-be successor, who will take on his position as manager of U2 as they prepare to release their first album in nearly five years.

"The band takes care of themselves anyway and know what they want to do or how they want to do it."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Paul McGuinness No Longer U2's Manager

U2 manager Paul McGuinness who has announced he is retiring from the role

Live Nation Entertainment, the giant concert company that includes Ticketmaster, is in advanced negotiations to buy the management companies behind U2 and Madonna, according to several people with direct knowledge of the talks.If the deal is consummated, it will further strengthen Live Nation’s already deep ties with U2 and Madonna, two of the highest-earning and most durable pop acts of the last 30 years.

As part of the deal, Live Nation would pay more than $30 million for both Principle Management, the company of U2’s longtime manager, Paul McGuinness, as well as Maverick, run by Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, according to these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly.

In what would be one of the most surprising shifts in years among the forces behind pop megastars, Mr. Oseary, 41, would take over the day-to-day management of U2. Mr. McGuinness, 62, who has managed U2 almost since its inception — and in doing so became one of the most highly esteemed executives in the music business — would become Principle’s chairman, with a role that was not fully clear.

A spokeswoman for Live Nation declined to comment, and Mr. Oseary could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, Mr. McGuinness said: “It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock ’n’ roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career.

“I am delighted that Live Nation, who with Arthur Fogel have been our long term touring partners, have joined us in creating this powerful new force in artist management. I have long regarded Guy Oseary as the best manager of his generation, and there is no one else I would have considered to take over the day-to-day running of our business.”

According to Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine, the top 10 highest-grossing tours include four by U2 and one by Madonna. U2’s last tour, called 360, had more than $700 million in ticket sales and was seen by nearly seven million people around the world.

Live Nation, which besides its concert promotion and ticketing business manages the careers of some 200 acts through its Artist Nation division, has had close ties with both U2 and Madonna for years. In 2007, it struck a $120 million deal with Madonna that covered touring and recorded music rights for a decade, and it later sold the recording rights to Universal. In 2008, it made a deal with U2 to handle the band’s touring and merchandising exclusively for 12 years.
Bilboard magazine says  U2 is readying a new album for tentative release in April,and is shopping for brand partners to announce the new project via a Super Bowl commercial. Leading the meetings for Bono, McGuinness & Co. is Oseary, who's been reaching out to potential sponsors on the band's behalf, according to four executives familiar with plans. Danger Mouse has been producing the set, which was recorded primarily at New York's Electric Lady Studios.

Friday, November 8, 2013

And the winner of the 2013 ONE Africa Award is… ANSAF of Tanzania!

 ONE CEO Michael Elliott, co-founder Bono, Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo and Board Chairman Tom Freston present Executive Secretary of ANSAF Audax Rukonge with the 2013 ONE Africa Award. Photo: ONE
he winner of the 2013 ONE Africa Award is Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) of Tanzania.  
This afternoon I was joined by ONE co-founder Bono, CEO Michael Elliott and Board Chairman Tom Freston to present the prize to Audax Rukonge, Executive Secretary of ANSAF.  The ceremony was part of the African Media Leaders Forum which is being held in Addis Ababa.
The ONE Award is an incredible opportunity for us at ONE to shine a spotlight on some the most innovative Africa-led, Africa-driven efforts and initiatives by civil society organizations that are working hard to build a better future for African citizens. These organizations often tie public service delivery efforts to robust advocacy tactics so that systemic change can be achieved.
Before the award was presented, our Board Chairman Tom read out a message from the benefactor of the prize, Howard Buffett.  He said,
“I think it is especially fitting that this is the first time this award is going to a winner in the agricultural sector and that the winner is a coalition of smallholder farmers. I have long advocated that farming policy will be most effective when it is shaped by farmers themselves; that is true anywhere you go in the world.
My hope is that by winning the ONE Award, ANSAF’s voice will only get stronger, and that you will inspire groups like yours across the continent to speak up on behalf of the millions of smallholder farmers who are a critical part of meeting Africa’s food security needs.”
Audax will be writing a guest blog sharing his reaction to winning the prize, and what it means for the future of the organization very soon. Accepting the prize today he said,
“This award is for Tanzanian and African smallholder farmers who work hard to ensure Africa has enough food to feed the nations.”
Bono also addressed the media leaders and journalists in the audience, describing the information revolution taking place in Ethiopia and around the world, and how it is empowering civil society organizations to hold governments to account. He said,
“The quality of governance depends on the quality of civil society, and the quality of civil society depends on the quality, the accuracy, and the relevance of information.
Transparency plus insight equals transformation. Capital flight is always at night, in the dark.  Phantom companies, with more wealth than some governments, can’t stand the daylight that would unmask who owns them.  Corporate and government corruption is killing more kids than any disease.  But there is a vaccine, and it is information. It’s transparency.”
We’re particularly proud to recognize and reward ANSAF and its work with smallholder farmers as we look forward to the promise of the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security in 2014. ANSAF will no doubt be a strong, reliable partner for ONE as we look for enhanced policy reforms and financial commitments in the coming year from African governments.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bono Remembers Lou Reed's 'Perfect Noise'

By BONO (for RollingStone)

 In an exclusive essay for RS, Bono reflects on Reed's deadpan humor and eternal music. 

 The world is noisier today, but not the kind of noise you want to turn up. The world of words is a little quiet and a good bit dumber, the world of music just not as sharp.
Lou Reed made music out of noise. The noise of the city. Big trucks clattering over potholes; the heavy breathing of subways, the rumble in the ground; the white noise of Wall Street; the pink noise of the old Times Square. The winking neon of downtown, its massage and tattoo parlors, its bars and diners, the whores and hoardings that make up the life of the big city.
New York City was to Lou Reed what Dublin was to James Joyce, the complete universe of his writing. He didn't need to stray out of it for material, there was more than enough there for his love and his hate songs. From Metal Machine Music to Coney Island Baby, from his work in the Velvet Underground to his work with Metallica, the city that he devoted his life to was his muse more than any other. Until Laurie Anderson came into his life 20 years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that Lou had no other love than the noise of New York City. If he thought people could be stupid, he thought New Yorkers were the smartest of them.
We first hooked up on the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope tour in 1986. He would talk guitar sounds with Edge, motorcycle sounds with Larry, James Joyce with me and – maybe I'm remembering this wrong – relationships with Adam. On one occasion, in perfect Lou drawl, he described how annoyed he was for agreeing to lend one of his motorcycles to his girlfriend. She had a small accident, damaging the lowrider in ways that clearly upset him. I asked him how his girlfriend was after the accident. He looked at me dryly and said, "Bono, you can replace the girlfriend."
His deadpan humor was easily misunderstood as rudeness, and Lou delighted in that misunderstanding. For the purposes of the hotel register, his pseudonym at the time was Raymond Chandler. I asked him what he liked about the noir genius of the detective story. "Biting humor and succinctness," he replied. I asked him for an example: "'That blonde is about as beautiful as a split lip.' It doesn't get better than that." He laughed loudly.
Lou exemplified the idea of art as the discovery of beauty in unexpected places. One of his most famous songs, "Perfect Day," is made even more perfect by being about a heroin addict walking through the park in the warm sun, completely separate from the problems that brought him his addiction. It's been sung by all manner of earnest voices, including mine and children's choirs, since it was written in 1972. It never fails to give me some kind of extra ache as they sing the last line, "You're going to reap just what you sow," oblivious of the icy chill suggested.
Transformer was the album that turned me on when it was released in 1972. Myself and my best friend Guggi would sit for hours listening to these street stories, thinking we knew what it was to walk on the wild side. We were 12 and 13.
Transformation is at the heart of Lou Reed's best work: people's ability or inability to transform. We know that turning pain into beauty is the mark of a great artist and we understand defiance is at the heart of romance, but we are mystified by how Lou Reed's songs are so airborne. Helium-filled metal balloons, never weighed down by their subject matter, humor always around the corner from vitriol. Magic and loss, indeed. Lou Reed was an alchemist, turning base metals into gold, heavy metal into songs as disciplined as if they came from the Brill Building – which they did, because that is the world where Lou got his start.
Lou was born out of two influences that can't be underestimated. One: the talents of his bandmates in the Velvet Underground, who then influenced pretty much every group that had a foot in the Seventies. (Witness our own "Running to Stand Still" for red-handed proof.) U2 were beyond ourselves with delight when the Velvets re-formed to play some select dates in the early Nineties, including some with us. "Pale Blue Eyes" is perfection in pop.
Two: the short-story writer Delmore Schwartz. Lou would return to this subject a few times with me and got me to read In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. (I did and they do.) He also got me a collection of essays, The Ego Is Always at the Wheel. (It is and I know.) I got him a collection of Seamus Heaney poems a couple of months back. Our last conversation was a simple thanks.
The music is eternal. It will keep being made even without him. It was wonderful to see Lou reunited with Bob Ezrin on their Berlin: Live shows in 2006, and to know that his beloved neighbor Julian Schnabel was set-designing and filming. I think it was originally meant to be rock opera for stage rather than screen. Maybe that will happen now, as the world digests how serious a loss we've just sustained.
It's too easy to think of Lou Reed as a wild creature who put songs about heroin in the pop charts, like some decadent lounge lizard from the Andy Warhol Factory. This couldn't have been further from the truth. He was thoughtful, meditative and extremely disciplined. Before the hepatitis that he caught as a drug user returned, Lou was in top physical condition. Tai chi was what he credited for his lithe physicality and clear complexion. This is how I will remember him, a still figure in the eye of a metallic hurricane, an artist pulling strange shapes out of the formless void that is pop culture, a songwriter pulling melodies out of the dissonance of what Yeats called "this filthy modern tide" and, yes, pop's truly great poker face – with so much comedy dancing around those piercing eyes. The universe is not laughing today.