Promotion of the Songs of Experience
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2018-04-12)
Unlike most past releases by U2, there seems to be little intent on a focused attempt to market one song as a single this time. Instead, it appears that the band is throwing a number of songs out in various formats, to see what works, and in doing so is allowing a lot of people to hear a lot of different songs from this album. “The Blackout,” “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” “American Soul,” “Get Out of Your Own Way,” “Lights of Home” and “Summer of Love” have all received attention since the start of the album’s promotional campaign and “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way” is the next to get attention. It makes tracking what is an actual single from the album difficult, especially now that it seems that the band has stopped using physical promotional discs to send materials to radio, and are now going exclusively digital for these most recent radio songs. (Yes, we are aware of a number of physical promotional CDRs and even some nice looking vinyl, the bad news is none of this is official and is being produced by individuals wanting to make money off of U2’s fan base, since U2 themselves are producing little output. The only exception is the “Songs of Experience” Sampler which was produced by Universal in the UK for sampler bags.)
When we started this article, “Lights of Home” was the latest song pushed to radio, but even since that time the band has returned to “Get Out of Your Own Way” and has issued an acoustic version of the song to streaming services and digital storefronts. And just this week the band has pushed “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way” to radio as well.
We’ve always listed two types of singles on U2Songs.com. The first type are commercial singles, which are songs that are made available for the general public to purchase. This would include songs with a unique artwork, or other unique content not available on the album. In this case we would count “Get Out of Your Own Way” because it has had three unique versions released, and each have had a unique cover. We wouldn’t include “American Soul” because although available earlier than the album, the song was just sold as a pre-order as part of the album itself and had no unique features. The second type of singles we’ve tracked are promotional singles. These are songs that may or may not be available for purchase by the public, but are sent to radio to promote a song. As mentioned, without physical discs being sent some of the information on these singles being sent to radio digitally is a little harder to find these days.
By our count there have been four commercial singles for this album, “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” “The Blackout,” “Get Out of Your Own Way,” and “Lights of Home”. Both “The Blackout” and “Lights of Home” are counted for the record store day releases, although limited, these were still made available to the public, and both contain additional tracks. (“Lights of Home” is released for April 21, 2018.) Most of these songs have also been delivered to radio but so have “Summer of Love” and “American Soul.” “The Blackout” has not been delivered to radio but some stations have been playing it.
Songs to Radio:
- August 30, 2017: “The Blackout” debuts as a video on Facebook. No radio delivery but some stations have played it from the Facebook audio.
- September 6, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me” sent to radio. Sent on Wednesday rather than the usual Friday, to hit DJs as they were adding tracks for the week. Two versions of the song were sent, the album version, and the Sci-Fi Soul Mix.
- November 2, 2017: “Get Out of Your Own Way” sent to radio in Poland, edit of the track.
- November 20, 2017: “American Soul” sent to radio in the UK.
- November 22, 2017: “Get Out of Your Own Way” sent to radio in the USA (Official add date December 4, 2017 for AAA, January 16 for Modern Rock Radio, January 29 for Hot AC)
- December 8, 2017: “Get Out of Your Own Way” sent to radio in Europe
- January 19, 2018: “Get Out of Your Own Way” remixes sent to DJs
- February 2, 2018: “Summer of Love” pushed to radio in The Netherlands
- February 21, 2018: “Summer of Love” pushed to club DJs in the UK.
- March 16, 2018: “Lights of Home” pushed to radio in Poland.
- April 11, 2018: “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” pushed to radio in the USA (Official add date April 23, 2018 for AAA)
The versions of “Lights of Home,” “American Soul” and “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” all appear to be the album versions of the song that have been delivered to the radio, “Summer of Love” was a slightly edited version of the track. “Get Out of Your Own Way” was a full edit of the song that was sent to radio.
The band seems to be playing with songs in smaller markets to see what may work. “Get Out of Your Own Way” first appeared on stations in Poland on November 2, 2017. This was the radio edit of the track and was supplied direct from Universal as a digital file. It was tested there for three weeks before there was a wider release of the song in the USA, but the song was staggered in release in the US, with a push date in December for Adult Album radio, mid-January for Modern Rock Radio, and late January for Hot Adult Contemporary. The late January date for Hot AC coincided with U2’s performance of the song on The Grammy Awards.
But that isn’t the only song to be “tested” – “American Soul” was sent to radio in the UK in November, 2017. It has not appeared to be pushed at radio in any other country at this time, so perhaps it was a test of the song and how it may perform outside of America. “Summer of Love” was pushed to radio in The Netherlands at the start of February. It was also pushed to DJs in the UK in late February. The song has been doing respectfully in The Netherlands. And now, most recently, “Lights of Home” has been sent to radio in Poland in mid-March. To date it appears to be the only market that has received the song. Why Poland and The Netherlands? Both have a strong presence by Universal Records, and also a strong U2 fan base that have been supportive of the band throughout their career.
Songs besides these have been played on radio, but in most cases this is not a track being pushed by the record label / band, but rather the choice of an individual DJ playing a song from the album. “The Blackout” does show up in a considerable number of airplay charts as the song was out before the album, but it has not been issued as a radio single.
- September 6, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me“ (Album Version)
- September 15, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me“ (U2 Vs Kygo)
- September 29, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me“ (Acoustic)
- November 24, 2017: “The Blackout“ (Record Store Day Release)
- December 27, 2017: “Get Out of Your Own Way“ (Switch Version)
- January 26, 2018: “Get Out of Your Own Way“ (Afrojack Remix)
- April 6, 2018: “Get Out of Your Own Way“ (Acoustic Version)
- April 21, 2018: “Lights of Home“ (Record Store Day Release)
As far as commercial singles go, “You’re The Best Thing About Me” and “Get Out of Your Own Way” have both had a number of releases on iTunes and other digital services. “You’re The Best Thing About Me” was first released as the album version in advance of the album, and then there was a remix of the song with Kygo, and finally an acoustic version was released. “Get Out of Your Own Way” has been released as two different remixes, and an acoustic version. With the first, the tracks were released over a period of less than a month. With “Get Out of Your Own Way” the releases have been over three full months.
After each song release mentioned above there has been a physical release for Record Store Day. U2 released “The Blackout” on November 24, and will release “Lights of Home” on April 21. Both singles include additional tracks, with “The Blackout” containing a remix by Jacknife Lee, and “Lights of Home” containing the string version found on the deluxe version of the album, and a new remix by Beck.
The band has also issued a number of videos as part of the promotion for this album. The same songs have gotten focus, “The Blackout,” “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” “American Soul” and “Get Out of Your Own Way”:
- August 30, 2017: “The Blackout” (Live Video)
* September 6, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (Lyric Video)
* September 16, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (U2 vs Kygo Remix Video)
* September 26, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (New York Video)
* October 5, 2017: “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (Documentary Video)
* November 20, 2017: “American Soul” (Lyric Video)
* January 18, 2018: “Get Out of Your Own Way” (Animated Video)
- February 22, 2018: “American Soul” (New York Video)
Known Unreleased Videos:
- Amsterdam filmed version of “You’re The Best Thing About Me” with girl on stage
- London filmed version of “Get Out of Your Own Way” with protest signs
- Mexico city filmed version of “Get Out of Your Own Way” on rooftop
“You’re The Best Thing” has had four different videos released, including two versions of one of these videos. A fifth video is known to have been filmed in Amsterdam but not yet released. “American Soul” has had two videos to date, a lyric video released last fall at the same time the song was being tested on UK radio, and a more recent video featuring animation by Broken Fingaz and live footage of U2 performing on a barge in the Hudson river. The more recent video was released as U2 was being featured heavily in advertisement for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament in the USA. To date, only one video for “Get Out of Your Own Way” has been released, but it is known that the band has filmed two other versions including a version filmed on a rooftop in Mexico City in October, and a second video filmed as part of a concert in Trafalgar Square. Whether or not these versions ever air remains to be seen, but with last weeks release of an Acoustic version of the song maybe there is still hope. The final video released to date was the live version of “The Blackout” filmed in Amsterdam in front of a small audience of 137 fans and their guests.
Other Media Promotion:
- October 2017: U2 used for all of the bumper music during the World Series (Major League Baseball), and studio version of “The Blackout” debuted in the Opening of the World Series October 24. “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Elevation,” “Beautiful Day,” “Desire,” and “The Blackout” heard during the series.
- November 28, 2018: U2 songs used throughout a number of NFL Broadcasts, including “You’re The Best Thing About Me” and Bono features on NFL Networks, “Good Morning Football” speaking about the video.
- February 16, 2018: “American Soul” is used as part of the advertisement for NCAA March Madness Tournament, and throughout February and March.
- March 30, 2018: “American Soul” is used as part of the ESPN advertisement for Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.
- “You’re the Best Thing About Me” (U2 vs Kygo Mix) being used in World Cup 2018 Advertisement in Italy
- A BBC Production, “Live from the BBC” or “Live In London” featured a number of songs performed live with an Orchestra and aired in a number of countries.
There’s been a heavy promotion for the album with sports events in the USA for this current album. “The Blackout” and “American Soul” are likely becoming very familiar to sports fans. We heard today that “You’re the Best Thing About Me” is being used in some promotion in Italy for the upcoming Fifa World Cup, which perhaps isn’t a surprise, as U2 has been involved in promoting the World Cup for a number of years. Here in North America U2 seems to be working with a variety of outlets including basketball, baseball and football. Beyond the promotions mentioned above “Lights of Home”, “You’re The Best Thing About Me” (U2 vs Kygo) and “American Soul” also feature on ESPN’s College Football playlist.
The band has also used “The Little Things That Give You Away” in a variety of promotional ways. The song first appeared on the 2017 tour on opening night as a taster of the album, and fans at that concert were the first to see the final album cover for Songs of Experience revealed. The song was part of a series “Spotify Singles“ which features artists performing one of their own songs and a cover song for Spotify. A version of “The Little Things That Give You Away” live from Seattle in 2017 was also streamed on U2.Com just a week before the album was released.
It may be difficult to figure out what song is a single anymore, and we may never get that clarity again. But the band is out actively promoting these songs in a variety of markets and in a variety of ways. They aren’t containing themselves to just one song, which means currently they are promoting “Lights of Home” in Poland and “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way” in the USA, and “Summer of Love” in the Netherlands and UK all at the same time. They launched the promotion of things with “The Blackout” and “You’re The Best Thing”.