Band Lets Fans Create Customized Album… And Help Sell It (Allowing The Fans To Make Money Too)

from the neat-ideas dept

We’re always interested in unique ideas by artists and content creators to both connect with fans and give those fans a reason to buy, and Lefsetz has the latest on how the Kaiser Chiefs, a quite successful UK-based band, is releasing its latest album. You can read the details, from the band’s lead singer, at Lefsetz’ site, but there are two key things that the band is doing with this digital (and it’s only digital) release:

  • Let fans create a “custom” album with custom artwork. The band is effectively releasing 20 songs, and users get to pick which 10 they want, and put them in any order they want — and then they get a custom piece of album artwork, based on the choices. The website is fun to play around with as well.
  • Then, once you’ve bought the album, you also get a “fan page” for the unique album that you created, and if you drive others to that page and they buy the copy of the album that you created, you get £1 (the full album costs £7.50).

There are some other little features as well, but those are the two big ones. It’s definitely an interesting idea, and I’ll be curious to see how it goes. I have mixed feelings on the 10 tracks out of 20 idea. In an era where fans are often much more interested in a few tracks, I could see that making sense, but for super fans, who want to be completists, now it feels like they have to buy 2 albums. Maybe that’s okay for the super fans, but I could see some getting annoyed.

As for the money idea, it’s definitely a cool idea to test out, but it’ll be interesting to see if they provide any data down the road on how well it goes. It reminds me a bit of the similar pyramid scheme that some were discussing a few months back as a way of fighting off infringement. I do wonder, honestly, how much use this really gets. First of all, fans are fans because they like the music, and it almost seems to shift the relationship a bit if you tell them they can earn money promoting you. Still, I’m sure some will, and hopefully they’ll make plenty of money in their role as a fan curator.

I know that I mentioned a few things about this experiment that sounds negative, but on the whole I’m all for experimentation and seeing what works and doesn’t work. Emotionally, I like both parts of the plan as it seems like a fun experiment. I really do hope it does well, and hopefully the band agrees to share some of the results.

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Comments on “Band Lets Fans Create Customized Album… And Help Sell It (Allowing The Fans To Make Money Too)”

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Call me Al says:

Obviously there are only a limited number of permutations for the album and if a fan page is created for each person who creates an album there then it stands to reason that many fan pages may well be identical in terms of the music. Now that there is money, and potentially profit involved, I wonder if we’ll see fans accusing each other of copying their idea or track list.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:


Limited, yes, but so is any album that doesn’t sport infinite tracks ;).

Still, more than a few unique combinations: 184756. That’s without even addressing the ordering of 10 unique songs out of 20, but just which 10 out of 20. i.e. 1..10 and 6..10+1..5 count as 1 of these ~185k, not 2 distinct options.

If the album sells 184756, that’s quite a tidy sum.

jsf (profile) says:

Nice Interest Generator

I’m not so sure about the paying people thing, but it will definitely generate interest among fans and does give them even more reason to spread the word wherever they can. Which in turn generates more interest. So overall a nice idea that gets people looking at the very least and has been said many times here exposure is one of the most valuable things an artist can get.

Scott@DreamlandVisions (profile) says:

Good idea, one step short.

I’d like to see this idea taken a step further. Take the idea that Nine Inch Nails had last year with encouraging their fans to submit remixes of their tracks. Now allow fans to create an album with X number of tracks with 3-4 slots available for their own custom mixes.

The hardest core fans are the ones who are also your creative peers. Give them the tools to make art with your art and you’ll have a heck of a lot stronger fanbase.

McBeese says:

I Like It

I think this is a overall a great strategy. I’d change a couple of things though.

1. I’d change the focus to 3-song mini-albums. The likelihood that any band is going to release 10 songs that I want to buy as an album is low. That business model is dead… let it go.

2. When fans post their custom EPs, they should be asked to write a little mini-review on why they chose the songs they did, maybe comment on past concerts, etc.

3. Paying the fans is a nightmare, especially across borders. People love status almost as much as money. Why not give them credits that can be used for band merchandise or VIP concert tickets? Or maybe visibility on the bands website in some way.

Lots of ways this idea could be used. I like it because it’s the beginning of crowd-sourced promotion and distribution.

McBeese says:

Good idea, one step short.

Imagine if U2 did this. They put 10 new tracks on their website and they let other artists who are influenced by U2 publish an EP with their choice of 3 the U2 tracks, 1 cover of 1 of the tracks, and 1 original song. Some minimal amount of quality control is done on the other artists material. The artists get a small cut of sales. Grassroots promotion for U2 and a HUGE leg up for artists trying to break through. The fans enjoy some really interesting interpretations of U2’s material.

MixMgmt (user link) says:

everyone's selling something...

I love this idea. I’m feel like we should be honored that such a reputable band is willing to risk it for our learning! (and yes I hope they share the info!) As for breaking the social contract…maybe…..but if you think harder…really no. Everyone is selling something and if you can mobilize a fanbase to sell your product, AND you reward that good behavior with sharing your profits with them…what better way to strengthen that relationship! I think it’s slightly more greedy to give them credits to spend on more stuff from your band, but I’m not going to critize capitalism in the music industry. It’s YOUR fanbase, and you know how you should treat them. If you honestly have talent, honestly work your butt off to made an honestly good product, and honestly enter into a financial arrangement with your fans that rewards their hard work and yours – beautiful.

Bill Benzon (user link) says:

I Like It

1. I’d change the focus to 3-song mini-albums. The likelihood that any band is going to release 10 songs that I want to buy as an album is low. That business model is dead… let it go.

That business model isn’t dead at all. Sites like overwhelmingly sell albums over single songs.

I hate to say this, but people who complain about albums not having more than 2 or 3 good songs are just not really fans of music. Or they seem unable to branch out beyond mainstream chart albums. I have at least 500 albums that I can listen to end to end. I have no problem finding artists whose music I almost totally enjoy. Is every song my favorite ever? Of course not. But I enjoy music, I even enjoy criticizing the music I don’t like, some of us are just more musically inclined.

It’s OK, though. Everyone doesn’t have to enjoy music. For instance, I don’t enjoy movies. Period. I watch maybe 2 or 3 a year. It’s just not an artform I take pleasure from. But I’m not going to imply that Hollywood makes no good movies. I’d rather honestly examine myself and realize that I just don’t really enjoy the movie-going/watching experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good idea, one step short.

Thrice did something like this a few years ago. They had a remix contest for their single Image of the Invisible. They posted up all the separate tracks for the song (each instrument and voice layer separate) and said to remix it and make it yours. there was then a vote for the best remix and the winner won money towards a home recording set up

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