Older, wiser Kaiser Chiefs start to see the ben­e­fits of DIY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

YOU COME across the terms “in­ter­ac­tive” and “dig­i­tal plat­form” in a lot of mu­sic in­dus­try press re­leases these days. They sound good but mean noth­ing at all. They’re just un­nec­es­sary lay­ers for con­ceal­ing the fact that the ba­sic fare on of­fer (the ac­tual mu­sic) needs a help­ing tech­no­log­i­cal hand. Throw­ing up a link to a so­cial net­work­ing site doesn’t ex­actly place you at the cut­ting edge of dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion.

It’s with some trep­i­da­tion, then, that you learn that the new Kaiser Chiefs al­bum is be­ing re­leased via a “brand new, in­no­va­tive dig­i­tal plat­form”. Such talk is usu­ally the pre­serve of those in the last chance saloon (Kaiser Chiefs have been strug­gling of late) and sig­nals a des­per­ate throw of the “dig­i­tal plat­form” dice: bells and whis­tles to dis­tract us from the qual­ity of mu­si­cian­ship and song­writ­ing.

But Kaiser Chiefs may well be on to some­thing. The Fu­ture Is Medieval gets a bog-stan­dard phys­i­cal re­lease at the be­gin­ning of July, but for the month of June they’re go­ing the be­spoke route, which means you can de­sign your own al­bum.

It’s sim­ple. Go to their web­site (kaiserchiefs.com) to hear 20 one­minute sam­ples of the new songs. Choose your favourite 10, track-list them as you see fit, then cus­tomise your own art­work. All for £7.50 (about ¤8.40). Noth­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary about that. What’s in­ter­est­ing is that a chart on the web­site shows which track-lists are the most pop­u­lar. The one done up by singer Ricky Wil­son (or some­one us­ing his name) is cur­rently the most pur­chased ver­sion, fol­lowed by one com­piled by the hand-wringers at the Guardian. Also in the top five is one by the drownedin­sound web­site peo­ple and one by DJ Chris Moyles.

But wait, it gets bet­ter. If any­one chooses to buy your cus­tomised al­bum, you get paid £1 di­rect from the band’s roy­al­ties.

Sure, it’s a pub­lic­ity stunt, but one that at least tries to re-en­gage lis­ten­ers with the al­bum for­mat, ac­cord­ing to Wil­son: “No one in­vests much in buy­ing a record any­more, so we had to find a way for peo­ple to have an emo­tional at­tach­ment to it. You can ig­nore what’s hap­pen­ing with the mu­sic in­dus­try or you can do some­thing about it. Some­thing has to change – ev­ery­one is too scared.”

Kaiser Chiefs should run with this “devo­lu­tion” idea. Pre­sum­ably they’ll be tour­ing the al­bum, so they could ap­ply the same logic to their live shows. Stick up 20-odd songs on the web­site for fans to se­lect their own set-list. All you’d need to do is ag­gre­gate the scores; there must be some com­puter pro­gramme out there that could do that in a few min­utes.

It’s a buyer’s mar­ket for sure. Queens of the Stone Age are re­spond­ing to the changed con­di­tions by let­ting fans chose their up­com­ing Glas­ton­bury set-list for them. Josh Homme has put up 50 of the band’s songs on to Zane Lowe’s BBC page (bbc.co.uk/ ra­dio1/zanelowe/queen­softhe stoneage); all you have to do is se­lect the 10 you want to hear at Glas­ton­bury. I’ve just voted for them to play Feel Good Hit of the Sum­mer 10 times in a row.

That’s the free­dom of the in­ter­net for you.

Pick’n’mix: Kaiser Chiefs in­vite you to cre­ate – and even sell – your own

al­bum

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