Napster Nails Hurricane Relief

    September 5, 2005

I have an iPod, so I get my online music primarily from Apple’s iTunes store. My wife has a Samsung digital media player, so she uses Napster.

“Hey, look at this,” I called up to her yesterday. She came downstairs and I pointed out the image on the iTunes storefront that allows you to make a donation in support of hurricane relief to the Red Cross. She handed me a CD she had just burned. “This is what Napster is doing,” she said. The CD contains a number of tracks by New Orleans musicians from Louis Armstrong to the Neville Brothers. “It cost $15 and every cent goes to hurricane relief.”

Napster’s offer appears only when you’re logged into the service, so non-members visiting the home page won’t know about it. The Red Cross link on iTunes is below the fold, so anybody visiting the iTunes store will have to scroll to find it. Both services would do well to make the offers more visible (and Napster might consider offering the download for $15 without requiring membership). Still, Napster wins for innovation. Apple took the easy road, doing pretty much what anybody with a website can do. Napster innovated, offering something tangible-and directly related to their business-in return for the donation.

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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.