Music stars issue special (RED) release

Charitable foundation launches weekly digital magazine on World Aids Day
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The Independent Online

It is not every day that you get invited to a launch party with Coldplay, The Police and Elton John. But today being World Aids Day, you can join the performers and a clutch of other world-famous music stars at red.msn.com, for the launch of (RED)Wire, a new musical venture from the (RED) charitable initiative, which aims to halt the spread of Aids in Africa with the help of major consumer brands.

(RED)Wire is billed as a weekly digital magazine of musical content, each issue including an exclusive track by an established artist such as U2, Jay-Z or Bob Dylan. For £4 per month, subscribers will also be introduced to songs by emerging artists, and sent videos explaining (RED)'s work in Africa. Half of each month's membership fee will be donated directly to the Global Fund to eliminate Aids. (RED) claims that for every five subscribers to the magazine at www.redwire.com, one person with HIV will receive the antiretroviral drugs necessary to keep them alive. Since its launch in 2006, the (RED) initiative has already raised almost $120m for the Global Fund's Aids prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Among the artists performing online for (RED)Wire's launch are The Killers, whom MacKinnon describes as "the first (RED) artist". The Las Vegas-based indie-rockers produced a charity Christmas single for (RED) for the past two years, but this year have recorded a new seasonal song with Elton John and Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. "Joseph, Better Me Than You" will premiere exclusively on (RED)Wire today.

Coldplay have collaborated on a new track with Kylie Minogue, John Legend has recorded a cover version of "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley, and Bono – one of (RED)'s founders – is expected to bookend proceedings with a personal message to viewers, and a world premiere of U2's cover of "I Believe in Father Christmas" by Greg Lake. The day-long event is being hosted online by Microsoft, a (RED) global partner. "Rather than just have a concert in a theatre somewhere, we wanted to create a concert in the theatre of the internet," said MacKinnon. "Artists have really responded to the idea of (RED)Wire as a charitable endeavour, but also as a creative way to get their music out there and to help other artists to get discovered."

(RED)Wire may be an innovative fundraising model, but its creator believes it will also create a pioneering format for the online magazine.

"We've created a simple way to give people a bite-size feed of great music," MacKinnon said. "The magazine experience hasn't quite been pulled off yet digitally, and we thought that with all these artists wanting to get involved and help (RED), we could create a unique showcase for new work by established artists, emerging artists, filmmakers and writers. A bundle of digital content arrives every week, and we've built beautiful player software that will download it and make the experience of that content feel like a magazine."

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