According to reports from Apple, U2's new album, 'Songs of Innocence,' has been downloaded over 26 million times via iTunes in what was apparently one of the best marketing strategies of all time.

Although the band received some backlash for this move -- mainly due to iPhone users complaining that the album downloaded to their music library without their permission -- they gained nearly 12 million new listeners; according to Apple vice-president Eddy Cue (via Billboard), only about 14 million of the 500 million regular iTunes users had purchased U2 music since 2003, prior to 'Songs of Innocence.' With 5% of regular iTunes users taking advantage of free music in general, the band's 14 million iTunes audience increased to 26 million.

'Songs of Innocence' is the arena rock band's 13th studio album, and the physical copy of the 11-song album is due out on Oct. 14 via Island Records. Fans will get 10 additional tracks with the physical LP (four brand new songs and six acoustic tracks).

Check Out Rejected Album Covers for 'Songs of Innocence'