Over the weekend UK-based ‘indie’ band, The Kaiser Chiefs, went public with their latest album offering ‘The Future is Medieval’. What makes this launch
unique different is that for the first time, Chiefs fans can create their own version of the album and then make money from the sales of that bespoke version.
As the website puts it:
Once complete, fans will be given their own page on the Kaiser Chiefs website to sell their version of the album and, for each one sold, the curator gets £1.
Not. Bad. At. All. It’s certainly got our chins wagging today…
Why is this so good?
Mashable says it’s because ‘the fans are turned into producers’, ‘The fans get financial rewards!‘ says Marketing Magazine and The Next Web have gone so far to call it ‘a brilliant stroke of social media‘ and cite that the real beauty is that ‘every album will be different’. Yes. Quite.
“It’s about creating awareness… It is a stunt. They will have it exclusively like this for about four weeks then slap their real version (probably the full 20) on iTunes when everyone is talking about it and all their fans are posting about their exclusive version, if some famous people do one then they might get some traction, as well among frontier communities. It is disruptive, and in this market, that is good.”
He has a point.
Of all the headlines I’ve read over the weekend and the course of this morning, many different buzzwords are being thrown around, ‘the future of social marketing/music/commerce’ etc – delete where appropriate.
It works because:
- Music industry disruption is always welcome (but nothing new*)
- It rewards the real fans; both financially and through social kudos (imagine if your version of the album gets into the top ten – sweet)
- Personalisation is key, and they’ve delivered that both with the playlist selection and the album cover
- Your fans become the sales people
- It’s proper, actual content curation
But, as with any fan-pleasing innovation, there are the naysayers:
- If the above doesn’t interest you and you’re just here for the music, then – as some have already pointed out – you’re being asked to buy the album twice to hear all 20 tracks
- It sounds a bit too much like The Privateer Manifesto
- Your fans become the sales people – “It’s a pyramid scheme!“
Overall, this kind of member-get-member scheme is nothing new to the industry. As always, it’s the packaging and the communications around it that sells. The website is lovely to use and to look at, the premise is simple enough and – eventually – one wonders what kind of lasting effect (if any) this will have on the industry as a whole.
*that nothing new part? Where do we begin?
- Radiohead – In Rainbows
- James Yorkston – When the Haar rolls in
- Sigur Ros – Med sud I eyrm vid spilum endarlaust
Three album launches that disrupted in their own way. The difference with these being the disruption came from the artist(s) themselves as opposed any kind of agency tie-in/support.