A MEDIEVAL FUTURE?
A really interesting and innovative idea here for buying, distributing and involving fans of, surprisingly, The Kaiser Chiefs. The quick synopsis goes something like this: Choose your tracks (10 from 20). Select and create your own artwork, and distribute your version of the album, making money off the back of it (as does the band obviously). Fan wins (greater engagement and money off the back of it) artists wins (you actually listen to the songs, and the PR is invaluable) and without a shadow of a doubt the agency wins (this whole little number was dreamt up by Oli Beale, creative at W+K London, in collaboration with lead singer Ricky Wilson. The full explanation is over here at Welcome To Optimism).
So, what about the experience of ‘making’ this album? Well, the website is a lovely piece of interactive work (especially the way you plug the cables into each track – cute), and you have to respect and applaud the thinking and innovation behind the idea. It has you intrigued enough to be willing to take the time to indulge in the experiment and listen to the songs. It’s not as devastatingly simple as Radiohead’s pay what you want initiative for In Rainbows, but then again, they a universally lauded band and probably could afford to take a greater financial and critical risk (not including the £40 deluxe packs and all that jazz that were released after). Alas for the The Kaiser Chiefs they are loooooooong way from critical darling level and frankly, have been on the wane for years, so it’s going to be tough road back. Hence why I respect the embracing of the unknown.
Will this musical experiment reverse that decline? Possibly, it certainly will gain them exposure, but you have to wonder how many people beyond a hardcore might participate in this. I would actually like to see this do well, beyond what I personally think of the music. (It’s a bit…. meh, with a few interesting highlights, that I naturally selected in my own album attempt), the really cool bit here is the disruptive model, and the collaboration. Letting your fans feel like they are participating in some of the most crucial elements of building a great album (songs and pictures) heralds another level of engagement. Let’s hope there’s enough fans, both old and new to make it a success.