(Red) bows subscription music site

Service will raise money for the Global Fund

(Red), the Bono-led organization that raises awareness and money to help eliminate AIDS in Africa, will launch a weekly subscription music service Monday.

Launch of (Red) Wire at MSN.com, being held on World AIDS Day, will include world premiere songs and videos from Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Dixie Chicks, Jay-Z, John Legend, the Killers with Elton John, the Police with Elvis Costello, U2 and others. Bob Dylan and R.E.M. will be supplying content in the near future.

A portion of the proceeds from memberships will be donated to the Global Fund to help buy medicine for those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Beyond the charitable aspect, the service is being pitched as a source for new music discovery and, like most other digital delivery services, will lean heavily on exclusive offerings to attract subscribers.

Don MacKinnon, who founded Hear Music and ran the label after selling it to Starbucks, is president of (Red) Content, and he emphasized that (Red) is a business model.

“It’s not just a T-shirt. And it’s not just giving proceeds (to charity),” he told Daily 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. It’s hard to (digest) a 30-song sampler. The idea is a bite-sized (collection) that arrives automatically in your iTunes.”

Weekly, (Red) Wire will deliver four items: an exclusive song from a major artist; a less-well-known song from an artist (Red) wants to showcase; a fun or inspiring nonmusic piece; and a video on the impact of (Red) dollars at work in Africa, an early installment of which features a collaboration between actor Djimon Hounsou and director Jesse Dylan.

McKinnon would not specify exactly what offerings will be made Monday, but did note that (Red) has the first Dixie Chicks recording since their Grammy wins in February, John Legend performing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” with just guitar and bass, and that U2 recorded a track last week for the service. The list of upcoming artists that will be featured includes Jenny Lewis, Brandi Carlile and TV on the Radio.

Artists are free to use their music after it is released via (Red) Wire.

“We’re not trying to hold onto anybody’s songs,” McKinnon said. (Red) was organized by U2’s Bono and has involved a number of corporate partners, among them Apple, Converse, the Gap, Emporio Armani and Dell.

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