Bono has a new plan for online music – philanthropic subscription services – planning to launch the scheme under the Product (RED) imprint in the autumn.
Essentially, users will pay $5 per month to receive three pieces of media every month, one track from a leading artist, (U2, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Emmylou Harris and Death Cab for Cutie have all signed-up to take part in this initiative), another track from an up and coming act and a surprise piece of content they’re calling a ‘crackerjack surprise’, which could be a song, video, short story or anything else that fits the description. Subscribers can also look forward to detailed stories of (RED) cash being spent in Africa.
Here’s how the (RED) team are explaining the service:
“This fall (RED) will unveil a simple, seamless way for people to receive music from artists they love and artists they will discover. By applying the (RED) idea to music this model will create a new revenue stream for artists and labels and buy life-saving medicine for those living with AIDS in Africa.”
Half of the money raised will go through (RED) to the Global Fund, and the other half to the artists who contribute songs.
“There’s so much music out there now, and people aren’t getting their information in the ways that they grew up with,” Paul McGuinness, U2’s manager, told the New York Times. “I think there’s quite an opportunity to help people keep current with music.”
(RED) partners have generated more than $60 million for the Global Fund, money is spent helping to finance comprehensive national HIV/AIDS programs led by the ministries of health, to provide antiretroviral treatment for children and adults, to assist in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as essential counseling and testing activities to reduce the overall risk of HIV transmission.
Don MacKinnon, founder of HEAR Music and former Vice President of Music & Entertainment of Starbucks Coffee Company, designed and developed this concept.
“(RED) is such a powerful model,” said Don MacKinnon, President of (RED) Content. “The world’s best brands created (RED) products that have generated over $110 million. What we are doing now is applying the (RED) model to music. Every week you will receive great music from amazing artists and people living with AIDS in Africa will receive lifesaving antiretroviral medicine.”
“Don MacKinnon just might be the penicillin the ailing music business needs. He is an innovator by nature and 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 drug that (RED) can help purchase,” said Bono.
This new direct link to customers is very important to (RED). Not only because it creates an annuity to buy lifesaving medicine for those living with AIDS in Africa, but also because it gives us a direct relationship with (RED) consumers, creating a new platform to communicate the impact (RED) purchases are having on people’s lives,” said Susan Smith Ellis, CEO, (RED).
The notion of philanthropic business isn’t new – you’d have to look to Robert Owen for the seeds of these concepts – but investment works. You can read Impact Stories about beneficiaries of (RED) money in Africa here.