Last week Tim Cook announced three important new developments: iPhones the size of dinner plates, a watch that your parents will not understand, and a free U2 album for every iTunes user. Personally, I was surprised to see the new U2 album generate as much online chatter as the other unveilings, and I want to make one point about it:

When it comes to music (and a lot of other things), there is no everyone.?

Beware when you hear someone using the word ?everyone? ? Everyone hates this, everyone loves that, everyone likes U2. No, they don?t. There is no everyone.?

What Tim Cook and Apple have (hopefully) discovered in the last seven days is that if you give millions of people the exact same gift, you?re guaranteed to get a mixed bag of reactions. Some people will be delighted, some people will be indignant, and some people will be indifferent. That?s just the way people are, especially when it comes to something like music.?

To a caucasian Baby Boomer like Tim Cook, I?m sure it seems as though U2 is the perfect choice for an album giveaway. But what about to someone of a different age and/or ethnicity? Maybe not so much, and an analysis of iTunes sales figures and customer demographics would?ve revealed that.?

I find it interesting that Apple tried this singular gift experiment. When you?re giving one gift to millions of people, I guess you try to please as many people as you can. Or maybe you just pick your favorite band and let everybody else ignore it. But I wonder if they considered another approach. I wonder if they considered embracing the fact that there is no everyone:

We?re giving every registered iTunes user $10 to use on any music purchase they?d like. We recommend the brand new (surprise!) album from our friends U2, but you?re welcome to choose Ryan Adams or Nicki Minaj or Miles Davis. We just want to share our love of music with you, regardless of what kind of music you love.?

If they?d done something like that, I can?t help but think we?d be talking about a company that?s surprising and generous rather than one that?s a tad invasive and potentially out of touch. Oh well.

Of course, not everything works like music. While there are hundreds of sub-genres in the iTunes Store and a bajillion albums to choose from, there are only going to be three iPhone sizes to choose from. (And up until now, there was only one screen size to choose from.) Part of leadership ? at a church or at one of the biggest companies in the world ??is knowing when to let individuals choose and when to choose for everyone.?

One thing?s for sure, when it comes to music (and a lot of other things), there is no everyone. In other words, we need to lead ??and choose ??carefully.?

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2 replies on “There Is No Everyone: The U2/iTunes Thing”

Scott, I know your don’t need me to tell you how spot on this article is. But I’ll do it anyways.

Church leaders are infamous for making the “everyone” claim. After a Sunday the leaders will sit in a room saying things like, “I’ve heard a lot of people saying…” and proceed to portray a single comment from a single person as a highly authoritative group of people. It’s dangerous.

I think we play the everyone card not realizing what were doing. We mean well but I think at its root the everyone card is pride and arrogance on display. No better way to make our point valid than assume the support of everyone is surely behind you.

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