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Artists Announce New Music Service to Benefit AIDS Research and Also Themselves

World-saving U2 singer Bono today announced the details of his latest project and, as usual, it's not a new U2 album — it's RED(WIRE), a subscription-based digital-music service, part of the RED initiative to help buy medicine for those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Artists like Coldplay, Elton John, and the Killers (plus U2, obviously) will provide exclusive content to the service, which will cost users $5 per week month. Weirdly, though, only an unspecified "portion" of the profits will actually go to the cause (UPDATE: According to a publicist: "HALF of each MONTHLY $5 membership fee goes directly to the Global Fund to finance AIDS programs in Africa... Most of the other half goes to pay artist royalties. What's left pays for administrative costs associated with the service"): "It's not just giving proceeds [to charity]," brags (RED) Content president Don MacKinnon to Variety. "Artists are taking far reduced rates, but we're paying artists and publishers and have created a model to make this sustainable. It becomes a great avenue for exposure."

In addition to scoring cash money for their charitable work, artists will retain the right to use their tracks after they're made available through the service, which sounds like a pretty sweet deal for them. Surely, though, these rich, world-famous bands could cough up a few B-sides to benefit charity exclusively (and not themselves), right? We can think of eight or nine tracks on the most recent U2 album alone that nobody would've missed! Also, we know the organization does something similar with (RED)-branded iPods and T-shirts, but people were buying iPods and T-shirts anyway — will they actually be more inclined to spend money on music if a sliver of their purchase goes toward AIDS research? Or does regular old CD buying already feel like enough of a charity?

(Red) bows subscription music site [Variety]

Photo: Getty Images