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U2 releases new album on iTunes—for free

Music fans who thought they could snooze through today’s überhyped “Apple Event” were caught by surprise when U2 pulled a Beyoncé and dropped an entire new studio album, with no warning, after performing at the Cupertino press frenzy that also saw Apple announce the Apple Watch and iPhone 6. Oh…and it’s free.

The new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, is the band’s first studio album since 2009’s No Line on the Horizon. It will receive wide release on Oct. 13, and until then will be an iTunes exclusive. Currently, fans can download the album for no charge.

Since the album is appearing in iTunes libraries automatically—users just need to download it, or can stream it online—Apple is calling this “the largest album release in history. Over a half-billion people own it. Right now.” That won’t send it to #1 on the Billboard charts, though—the album isn’t eligible for either the charts or the Grammys until its commercial release, which means U2 will have to wait until next month to make the charts, and until 2016 for any Grammys.

According to U2’s website, “On October 13th the physical release of Songs of Innocence comes with a 24-page booklet. A deluxe, gatefold double album, contains an acoustic session of songs from the album and four additional tracks […] The album will also be available as a gatefold, double white-vinyl LP with an exclusive remix.”

The album’s producers include Danger Mouse, Flood, and others; Lykke Li makes a guest appearance on the song “The Troubles.” U2 recently confirmed that the long-awaited album would definitely released this fall, but were vague on details; now the reason for that vagueness has become clear.

Below is a video of U2 performing new song “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” at the Apple event. The title of that song, and the title of the album, are nods to the collection’s theme: the band’s debt to their early influences.

“I found my voice through Joey Ramone,” Bono told Rolling Stone, “because I wasn’t the obvious punk-rock singer, or even rock singer. I sang like a girl—which I’m into now, but when I was 17 or 18, I wasn’t sure. And I heard Joey Ramone, who sang like a girl, and that was my way in.”