Late last week, the Kaiser Chiefs kicked off a "create your own version of a Kaiser Chiefs album" campaign for The Future Is Medieval, their latest release due June 27th, based on online listings, though that may have shifted.
This campaign resulted in a huge amount of media coverage that mostly says the same thing, you get to pick out 10 songs from 20, create a cover, buy it and then sell it. If any sell, you get a a pound sterling which is converted to your currency via PayPal. This is a great marketing move, but it was not without complications.
The album creation process currently begins at kaiserchiefs.com and is worth checking out while it's still available. The graphics are pretty cool with what seems like steampunk elements though the video of a fan making an "analog" version seems simply old timey. I don't know if I'd find the video interesting if I were a fan, but it really drags out interminably.
It's Never Simple
The whole process is pretty straightforward but dealing with royalties apparently created some complications for the team that put it together:
"'It sounds relatively simple,' says Oli Beale, whose company, Wieden+Kennedy, oversaw the creation of the project. "But actually, none of us had any idea what a huge job this is. The mechanics of tracking the royalties of everyone who worked on the album and making sure everyone who sells on the album gets their pound – none of that has been done before.'"
You can keep up with Best Sellers and bits of news at Album H.Q. where no one title is selling like gangbusters. The fifth highest seller as of late June 7th has only sold 8 so I get the feeling it's a good thing they're also planning a traditional release. However, the Guardian's Dan Catt feels the numbers are "quite good" and does some interesting data mining and interface analysis for those who wish to dig into the details.
My only disappointment is that there doesn't seem to be a way to browse releases beyond a handful that are featured on the H.Q. page. I'm finding the various approaches to creating cover art to be pretty interesting and that would draw me in if I could browse a bit more. But otherwise this seems like a pretty solid approach to offering a "bespoke album" in the digital age.