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Bono apologises for U2 album iTunes "dumping"

The new U2 album is set to deliver the band their lowest chart position for 30 years following the band's controversial decision to give Songs Of Innocence away as a free iTunes download.

According to the Official Charts Company midweek update, U2 are set to enter the chart at number four, behind Jessie J and Ella Henderson, the teenage X Factor contestant, who is currently heading for number one with her debut.

The CD version of Songs of Innocence features 10 additional tracks, including six acoustic versions and four all-new songs, in a bid to maximise sales from the Irish band's core fans.

During a Facebook chat, Bono apologised for "dumping" the album on to the library of 500m iTunes users.

"I had this beautiful idea. We got carried away with ourselves. There's a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it."

Apple said the album had been actively downloaded 26m times during the free offer, which has ended. Bono said the experiment had been a success since it ensured that an audience got to hear the band's new songs, in an era when album sales have collapsed.

U2's studio albums have all debuted at number one in the UK since War in 1983, with the exception of Achtung Baby, which was pipped by Michael Jackson's Dangerous in 1991.