by Aaron Earls
Along with unveiling new gadgets at their latest live event, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the 800 million iTunes accounts would be getting a new U2 album for free, immediately.
Millions of users have downloaded Songs of Innocence and 33 million have listened to at least part of it on iTunes, iTunes Radio, or Beats Music (all Apple properties) in just six days. Apple reportedly paid $100 million to have exclusive rights to the album for one month and be able to give it away to create additional buzz for their company and products.
More than likely, your church doesn’t have access to that type of money or a world-renowned, Grammy-award winning rock band. So what could you learn from such a high profile gimmick? Quite a lot actually.
Here are four lessons you can learn and apply in your context, regardless of how far removed you may be from an Apple store or a concert venue.
Always be prepared for criticism
Cook gave the album away as a “treat” for iTunes users, but many didn’t see it that way. Complaints grew on social media until Apple created a special site to instruct people on how to remove the album from their “Purchased Music” folder.
If Apple wasn’t expecting pushback, they should have been, if for no other reason than people love to complain – even about a free album that still had to be downloaded to actually be on your smartphone or tablet.
Regardless of what your church does, you will face criticism. Understand this, plan for it, and prepare your people before undertaking anything new.
Know and hold fast to your non-negotiables, then be prepared to adjust the others based on your context and the response.
People respond to generosity
While the giveaway received some negative feedback, the overwhelming response was positive.
Millions of people were reminded of or introduced to U2’s music, and they liked what they heard (and received at no cost). So much so, listeners pushed 26 previous albums from the Irish rock band into the iTunes top 200.
What can you give away? It could be food to families in need, a place to stay for someone whose home burned down, free medical check-ups, or simple car care. Think about the community in which God has placed your church and the people He has placed within your body.
Don’t do it expecting gratitude, but don’t be surprised if people respond that way and with curiosity about why you would do something like that.
Connect with others who share your vision
Apple and U2 share similar audiences and reach many of the same people, but they also have differences in their core fan bases.
This means a partnership could be great for both of them. They each benefit from the additional exposure and opportunity to expand their commercial reach.
Many projects and initiatives, even when limited to a single community, would overwhelm one church, but if multiple congregations joined together they could make a much larger kingdom impact.
What is going on around you that would be too much for your church, but could be accomplished if you partnered with others?
Availability is vital
This marketing ploy opened the door for more than 2 million downloads of Songs of Innocence. One would be safe to assume that many of those would not have bought a U2 album with a normal release.
Suddenly, this world famous band has a free album to which hundreds of millions of people have access.
Not to sound trite, but Christians have something so much better than a free album. We have the gospel, which is quite literally “good news.”
But as Carl F.H. Henry said, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” To whom in your community has the gospel not been made readily available? How can you play a part in taking the gospel to unreached people groups around the world?
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.