Product RED To Begin Digital Music Service To Fight HIV/AIDS in AfricaProduct RED on Monday announced that it is launching a digital music service that will give half of the money collected from a $5 per month user fee to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the New York Times reports. The other half of the monthly fees will go to artists who contribute songs and their record companies.
Through the service, which is scheduled to begin in September, customers will receive three new pieces of exclusive content weekly. According to the Times, two songs will be delivered in an MP3 format, one from a well-known act and another from a less-established artist. The third piece will be a "crackerjack surprise," such as a song, video or short story, the Times reports. The venture has arranged to release new songs from U2, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Emmylou Harris and Death Cab for Cutie.
Don MacKinnon, RED's president for content, who previously has put together music products for Starbucks, said, "The idea, then as now, is music discovery," adding, "People want someone to send them music from artists they love as well as acts that are emerging." Irish musician and HIV/AIDS advocate Bono, who co-founded RED, said, "I have no doubt that some of the music software we are working on at RED will help change the way music is received, as well as changing the lives of Africans who will die without the AIDS drugs that RED can provide." RED's music software will deliver updates on how the organization's money is being used in Africa, and will encourage customers to share the service with friends and colleagues.
Some critics of RED have said it does not direct enough of the profits from its products to HIV/AIDS relief in comparison to the amount of money companies spend promoting their RED products. The organization's approach is to find businesses that can finance HIV/AIDS treatment in a sustainable way, and a subscription music service that generates steady revenue would fit that approach, according to the Times (Levine, New York Times, 6/30). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.