Subscriptions to (RED) Wire digital music will fight AIDS

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Elysa Gardner, USA Today

The new digital music service co-founded by Bono, which promises fans exclusive music by major artists in exchange for $5 a month to fight AIDS, will launch on the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

MSN will host Monday's kickoff event for (RED) Wire, an extension of the (RED) organization founded by the U2 frontman and Bobby Shriver to combat AIDS in Africa. New songs and videos from U2, Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Dixie Chicks, Jay-Z, John Legend and Sheryl Crow will be available at red.msn.com.

For Legend, signing on "was a no-brainer. (RED) has proven an effective vehicle. And the lineup of artists is exciting company." The singer recorded a new version of Bob Marley's Redemption Song, "which just felt right for this project and for the time that we're in."

The premieres also include a live track from the upcoming Sundance series Spectacle, pairing Elvis Costello with The Police, and a new Christmas song recorded by The Killers and Elton John. Bob Dylan and R.E.M. are on deck for future editions.

"The goal was something that wasn't just a one-off CD, but an ongoing service that would generate an ongoing flow of money," says Hear Music founder Don MacKinnon, who conceived the project.

"I like that it stands alone as a creative and fun thing to both receive and participate in," says R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe. "And it would be that with or without the charity aspect."

In addition to the superstar exclusives and collaborations, subscribers will receive a weekly spotlight track featuring a lesser-known artist. "I call it 'the artist we want everyone to hear,' " MacKinnon says. "It doesn't mean that they're a big buzz act or unsigned, but there will be some that very few people have heard of."

There's also a non-music feature that MacKinnon describes as "the Cracker Jack surprise. It could be an actor reading a favorite speech or poem, or telling a joke, or some great photography."

Subscribers will receive updates on how their donations are being used. "So many charities show a picture of a dusty village and ask you to send $10," MacKinnon says. "We want to give people a real window into the culture of Africa, something that can help them understand in deeper ways. We're trying to get cameras to teenagers, so they can show us their lives."

Half the fee will go the Global Fund, through which (RED) provides AIDS medicines for women and children. Most of the remainder goes to artist royalties.

Copyright © 2008 USA Today.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on November 24, 2008 11:26 PM.

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