Yesterday Apple and U2 announced that the band’s newest album Songs of Innocence would be given away to all 500 million iTunes customers for free. Most users likely assumed that they’d have the option of downloading the album if they wanted it, but that’s not exactly how it worked out.
In order to claim the record for “biggest album launch in history,” U2 and Apple needed every single iTunes customer to own the album, so they added it to everyone’s account as a purchase automatically. If you go into your iTunes purchase history right now, you’ll see it there. There’s another place you might see it as well, even though you weren’t expecting it…
Because iOS devices and iTunes on desktop machines are usually configured to automatically download any new purchases made elsewhere, all of your Apple devices may have started trying to download the album all on their own. Assuming every iTunes customer downloads the album to just one device, Apple has sent well over 50,000 TB of U2 music to customers.
Not to worry, there’s a way around this automatic behavior that doesn’t involve turning the feature off. Just open up your iTunes library on your computer, locate the album (you may need to enable “Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases” in the Store preferences tab), right-click it, and hit delete. This will hide the album from your iCloud account and stop it from automatically downloading to other devices. It will also remove it from your library.
You can also do this by opening the iTunes Store on a Mac or PC (doesn’t seem to work on iOS right now), going to the Purchased link in the sidebar, clicking the X button on the album in the Music section. This will also hide it from the Purchased list on your iOS devices. If it’s already been downloaded to an iOS device, you’ll need to delete it manually.