Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bono introduces the charity podcast

That's effectively what Redwire is - oh, sure, it might dress itself up as an online digital magazine, but it's a paid-for podcast. Each week, you get a new edition which is built around an exclusive track from an artist you'll have heard of, an exclusive track from an artist you probably won't have heard from, and some other pieces. And it raises money for Project Red.

That's the upside. The downside? It costs five dollars a month, which isn't a great deal of cash but given that the artists being featured are quite varied in terms of fanbase - U2, Coldplay, the Killers, the Dixie Chicks, John Legend, R.E.M. and Bob Dylan are early sign-ups - it's questionable if anyone is going to want every edition. Perhaps they'd have been better off selling the tracks individually?

The other question is why only $2.50 goes to Red:

Half of your $5 monthly membership fee goes directly to The Global Fund to help buy and administer medicine to people in Africa living with HIV. It costs just $12 per month to provide someone the two pills a day they need to stay alive. So every five (RED)WIRE members generate enough money, every month, to help keep one person living with HIV in Africa alive. Simple. Powerful.

You can save someone for twelve bucks - so doesn't two dollars fifty seem rather a high overhead for delivering a few computer files? Especially when that money otherwise could be going to help save people's lives.

The queasy aspect of other Red products - where the glow of "doing good" is a major contributor in decisions to purchase, but only a slice of the profits - the profits - go to charity is replicated here. Could the running costs not be picked up by, say, the record company whose artists are getting the promotional slot that week?

Still, it's less offensive than Red's expensive fragrances, for example, and it'll be interesting to see what happens a few months in when most of the obvious Live 8 type bands have delivered a song.