I think you’ll read about this everywhere today, but I can’t ignore it as it’s important and resonates with some consultancy that I’ve been doing.

I was asked last week to work on the marketing for a forthcoming album for a major label established artist and one of the things that they wanted to look at was the use of ‘affiliate marketing’.

If you don’t know what this is, it’s when somebody is paid a percentage of a sale in return for sending a buyer to a website. It is used a lot by many online retailers (such as Amazon) but hasn’t been used a great deal by musicians (Joe Bonamassa being the exception and trailblazer – reading his ‘affiliate page’ will help explain it as well).

So, I was gobsmacked when the Kaiser Chiefs announced the online digital release of their new album this morning – available only from their own site and in an innovative way. There has been no pre-release to the press for review (save a single sent to radio earlier in the week) and they have decided to make the recordings of the new album available to all at the same time.

In an official statement, the band said their intention was “to create a music experience that can be shared and enjoyed by all and at the same time revitalise and subvert the industry standard”.

“It can re-engage the excitement and spontaneity of offering new music immediately to fans, allowing them to hear the record at the same time as media and critics alike and hopefully giving people a fun experience at being the Kaiser Chiefs A&R department,” they added.

Fans can go to the band’s official site – http://www.kaiserchiefs.com/ – and create their own version of the album by selecting 10 of the 20 available tracks and designing their own artwork. The digital album is then bought for £7.50 and then a page is created for that version of the album as an affiliate page.

Fans can then promote that page (i.e their version of the album) and earn £1 for every copy sold.

Sure, there is some seriously cool coding going on on this site to make it all seamless, but it’s not an impossible thing for a DIY musician to acheive – there are affiliate systems available available to all budgets. What’s more important is that Kaiser Chiefs fans are lapping it up. Alerted by an email from the band (see how that mailing list is important), they are embracing the idea and tweeting about it like mad. The band have very cleverly engaged their fans.

The process of selecting the tracks and designing the artwork is very nicely designed and the code that builds the affiliate page is very smart – helping to make the experience for the fan simple, as well as new and exciting.

There’s also a clever little film introducing the idea which connects the online album creation to a real world experience in a very well thought out way as well.

Whether you’re a fan or not, you ought to check it out and go through the process of creating the album to see how it’s been done.

The best piece on it that I’ve seen today is this one from the Guardian which details the concept and also some of the band’s reasons for doing it this way.

Of course, there will be a definitve physical CD release in the near future as well!

And here’s the intro video.