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Marillion fans fund album after email appeal

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Web-connected fans of prog. rock band Marillion have enabled the group to cock a snoot at record companies and produce their next album themselves.

Having failed to win sufficient backing from the big labels, Marillion emailed everyone who had registered with the band's Web site asking them to pay in advance for its next CD.

Some 30,000 emails went out, and some &163;50,000 worth of orders came in - enough, said the band, to cut their new disc without music industry interference.

Marillion topped the charts back in 1985 with their album Misplaced Childhood and the singles it spawned, including Kayleigh. Following the departure four years later of singer and lyricist Fish (real name: Derek William Dick), the band faded into cult status - ie. solid, but small fan base and low record sales. Fish was replaced by current vocalist Steve Hogarth.

Indeed, to quote their own lyrics, from Incommunicado, they may as well be "currently residing in the 'where are they' now file".

Aylesbury's finest are, of course, portraying the move as a major attempt to use the Web to change music buying patterns. As the band's site notes: "We didn't consider this because we were desperate - we already have record deals on the table - we considered this because we thought that maybe, just maybe, you might have the faith in us to order, and pay for our next studio album over SIX MONTHS in advance!"

Of course, at &163;16 a pop, that means the band has only had around 3125 orders - around ten per cent of the requests sent out - hardly the big league record sales-wise. Still, it does mean the band can make the record, and simply sign a distribution deal with whichever label gives it the best terms - it's not reliant on the industry to fund the album in the first place.

Other bands will have to try it too before the pre-order becomes the new paradigm of album cutting, but if it works for Marillion, it could work for a lot more bands. ®

Related Link

You can read Marillion's CD plea here

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