Band Aid makes a new single, 30 years later

LONDON - If it sounds familiar, it is. A collection of rock stars gathers to record a charity single in aid of another crisis in Africa.

It's Ebola this time. But this is an idea that goes back thirty-years. Back to the famine in Ethiopia that killed hundreds of thousands and that led to the first Band Aid charity appeal in 1984.

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Sir Bob Geldof CBS News

The man behind the original Band Aid is the man behind the latest one, former rocker turned rock-activist, Bob Geldof.

"The only similarity between '84 and now is that it is the poorest, as ever, that are getting attacked," said Geldof. "And that makes me enraged."

But it has made others wonder whether charity music singles have lost their novelty appeal and their usefulness as money earners. And made some wonder whether the performers' motivation is entirely altruistic.

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Today's artists record "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid 30

"It's obviously very easy to be cynical about charity records like this," said pop music writer Andrew Meuller. "And yes, obviously there is almost inevitably some benefit to the people who participate in them.

The new single shot to the top of the download site charts almost immediately after its release. But in the age of instant music, it may actually be harder now to raise the kind of money that's been raised in the past. The original Band Aid pulled in well over $10 million. But music's cheaper now.

"Originally, it was £3.50 to buy a single," said Geldof. "Now it's 99p."

About a buck-fifty-five. That's a lot of singles to make a difference.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.