Fortnotes 13

[Being the lucky thirteenth in a fortnightly series of brain dumps: what I’m working on, wondering and worrying about.]

I can finally reveal the super secret project I’ve been getting increasingly excited about in these fortnotes for the past few weeks. The Kaiser Chiefs new album The Future is Medieval is out now, and it’s a bit different. Here’s how it works:

  • Preview 20 new Kaiser Chiefs tracks. Select the 10 you want, and the order in which you want them, for your own album.
  • Design your album artwork (much more fun than it probably sounds).
  • If you like what you’ve made, buy it for £7.50 and download your album.
  • Get your own{username} URL for your personal album [mine is frinstance].
  • You can sell it on through the site, making a £1 cut for each album sold.
  • Profit.

As an agency, we’ve been working on this for ages. Our own Oli Beale (the chap behind James Face and the complaint to Richard Branson) came up with the idea with the band. The launch was simultaneously rather tense, busy and a hell of lot of fun. Most of all, it’s an enormous relief to be finally able to talk about it.

It seems to have gone down rather well. I’ve been collecting various tweets, blog posts and press articles since well before the announcement. Some highlights:

“… my fears that this release could undermine the album format as an artform (and admittedly a physical, band selected release is planned for later this summer) seem unfounded. When I made my version of the album … I found myself getting sucked into sequencing it, trying to work out what would go well together to give the album a certain feel. So in a way it actually made me engage with the album more than the average release. So much so, I’d actually advise you to forget my version and make your own.”Paul Stokes, NME

Most of the coverage has been about the innovative and creative approach, so it’s good to see some really in depth review of the album on the BBC Music site:

“they’ve upped their creative ante somewhat, a number of these songs … coming across as more measured and mature, and a heck of a lot gloomier, than the upbeat bounce-alongs of old. Lead single Little Shocks goes some way to showcasing this murkier atmosphere – where before there was shiny hooks, here the chorus doesn’t leap from the speakers and the whole piece swells with unexpected drama. Can’t Mind My Own Business is indie-pop trapped in a Tron cabinet, while Heard It Break is a sinister sibling of something The Human League might write. Starts With Nothing examines the transitory nature of fortune, of wealth monetary and emotional – it’s rudimentary lyrically, but nevertheless a significant tonal shift for an act predominantly associated with anthems for football terraces. Child of the Jago claims, “This is your nightmare calling” – not quite, but there’s no doubt that the Kaisers have been exploring their darker side, with some exceptional results.” Mike Diver – BBC Music review

I really loved this post too, which nails the approach perfectly:

I would not call myself a fan of the Kaiser Chiefs. I have enjoyed some of their songs but I’ve never bought one of their albums before and probably wouldn’t have noticed this record at all if it had been released conventionally. But today I paid for their new record and now I’m writing a blog about them on this cooler-than-thou music site. And I’m enjoying the record! And I know that’s partly down to the “Wow, I made that” novelty but I’m also genuinely liking the songs, and that’s down to the fact that I was able to tailor the record to my own personal tastes. This is nothing new – people pick and choose songs to put onto their iPod and even edit down and resequence albums in their iTunes – but it’s heartening to see a mainstream act recognising this trend and tailoring their output towards it.Jed, A Girl Called Sam

But best of all though is some amazing work from Rev. Dan Catt who has been messing around with the data and working out which are the most popular tracks, providing some impressively detailed analysis of the project, and even looking into which order people put the tracks. Dan rocks.

Other things I’ve been working on recently include Visit Wales (developing roles and approach), Cravendale (still getting ready for the next phase), spending a bit of time helping out an a really interesting Nokia campaign and appearing in a promotional video for for’s TechCity Launchpad application.

New terminology: PPM = pre production meeting.