Fairsharemusic.com faces an uphill struggle

Fairsharemusic.com launched this week with a healthy dose of press coverage, including this prominent article in the Daily Telegraph.

In case you missed it, it’s a music download site that promises to donate half its net profits to charity – they call it “feel-good downloading”. The British Heart Foundation, Centrepoint, NSPCC and Friends of the Earth are among the site’s partner organisations, but music fans can opt to donate to the charity of their choice if they prefer.

Those charities can expect somewhere in the region of 3p per track. Not a fortune, it admits, but it offers consumers a convincing case for the value of what it calls “microdonations”.

Fairsharemusic.com might be new, but the basic business model isn’t; it follows many other start-ups that have sought to embed charitable giving into everyday transactions, such as search engine Everyclick – which this year passed the £1m raised for charity mark – and Monday, the short-lived rival to the National Lottery which folded after a year.

These businesses have experienced varying degrees of success, and they typically attract lots of press coverage when they launch (it’s hard to believe now, but one day back in 2006 the launch of Monday was the lead story on the front page of The Times).

One thing they all have in common is the difficulty of persuading people to abandon trusted household names. Often, it seems the satisfaction of giving to charity is not enough to convince consumers to switch. Fairsharemusic.com is a bright business idea that deserves to do well, but it will face an uphill struggle to compete with iTunes.