Paul McGuinness: Young Whippersnappers Take Note

22 Jan 2001
U2's manager Paul McGuinness compares U2 to veteran Olympic athletes who 'keep coming back and winning' and have no intention of handing over their title to 'some young whippersnapper who think they're entitled.'

In a wide-ranging interview with the UK trade publication Music&Media, McGuinness says he sees no threat to the music industry from free digital downloads.

'I think the record business as a whole has been slow to adopt to the technology and it ill-behoves them to complain now that the technology is off and running before they've figured out how to collect money on it.

'And frankly we're not waiting for them - we've adopted the technology. I'm sure the vested interests - the majors - will figure out a way of collecting from the Internet over time.

'It's worth noting that record sales have continued to increase with this supposedly catastrophic period for the industry. It reminds me of when the industry ran that really stupid campaign in the '80's - Home taping is killing music'. I'm not worried about it. Our job is to make the music and make it exciting and get it out to people.'

Staying with the Internet, he praises the network of unofffical U2 websites around the world - while noting that he is also impressed with relative latecomer, U2.COM.

On the delay in launching their own site, he says , 'I was waiting for somebody to undertake the very considerable expense. Also there was an enormous network of very good unofficial sites which we will continue to work with. U2 have more unofficial sites than any other artist, so when we were going to put up one of our own, it really had to be very good and I think the new site is pretty good....we have a marvellous site up there and it's turning into a very important part of our activities.'

He regards the bands' current success as the pinnacle of their career not just because the album reached number one in so many countries but because, well, nobody's getting any younger.

'They're all aged 40 now - I'm about to turn 50 - and we've all been doing if for over 20 years, so it's a bit like those Olympic athletes who defy everyone - a little like the Steve Redgrave phenomenon - and keep coming back and winning. And if there's a title, we're hanging on to it. We're certainly not going to hand it over to some young whippersnapper who think they're entitled.'

And how long can this go on ?

'The cliche used to be that pop music was young people's music. That's obviously not true. It's part of the culture in a very emphatic way and in a worldwide sense and I don't think that's going to change.

'They work harder now than they ever did and they're making their best music now. I think if they found they were repeating themselves or plateauing, they'd probably want to stop. But it is the competitiveness and also the satisfaction they get from doing great work and that I get from managing the process. That's the best thing.'


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