Evan's Blorg

Bono is very disappointed

June 18, 2017

While working on the Music Magazine, I always imagined that I’d end up rubbing shoulders with great artists. In practice this never really happened; the Magazine was on the other coast, and the engineers were never flown out to special events the way that the biz folks occasionally were.

There were a couple of minor exceptions.

One of the primary reasons that the Magazine was working with my company is that we also operated a major streaming music service. Theoretically, this should have been a fantastic synergy as articles about songs could have let you play those songs right there in your browser.

In practice, it was 2006, browsers were less capable, and DRM ruled everything around us. So it took years for us to actually pull that off, but I digress.

A benefit we did get from the streaming service is that we had access to its immense database of artists, albums, and songs, curated by a large team of hardworking music editors. We were able to expose a whole bunch of this data on the site; we never had to go make hundreds of thousands of hand-built artist pages, because we could just expose the existing database and style it.

Anyway, one Friday night I got some angry calls from the Magazine. Bono was in their offices, and they’d showed him the web site. Of course the first thing he did was type bono into the search box.

Because we weren’t Google, and our search would take you quite literally at your word, our code didn’t realize that bono was the lead singer of u2 and u2 would be a much more relevant result. Instead, it merrily sent him to an autogenerated artist page for Bono.

It turns out that Bono hasn’t had much of a solo career? But he’s had just enough to be a problem; there were references to a couple of solo tracks on the page, no image of him, a whole bunch of blank space.

Anyway, Bono got mad at The Magazine, the Magazine staffers called up to yell at me on a Friday night and tell me to take the page down, and I had to tell them that I had no way to delete an artist record from the streaming service’s database, as I didn’t run that part of the business. This wasn’t, perhaps, very well understood by their non-technical staff, and was, perhaps, not a satisfying answer to hear as a renowned singer was yelling at their boss, who was renowned in his own way for firing people whenever the fuck he wanted.

To be fair to Bono, I can imagine that if you’re Bono, and you’ve spent thirty years being one of the most famous rock stars and public figures in the world, it’d be pretty goddamned irritating to see that a Major Music Magazine is treating you like you’re somebody’s uncle who recorded a song with his bros once.

That was ten-ish years ago now, and every once in a while I’m reminded that an incredible singer, whom my friends and I all listened to constantly during high school and college, is personally disappointed in me and wishes that I was better at web pages.

Picture of EvanWritten by Evan Stoner, who is this guy wearing glasses in the dark. You can find him on Twitter or GitHub, but the open web is nicer.