More evidence that cultivating close online fan relationships could yet sustain established musicians’ careers – Brit prog rock band Marillion‘s forthcoming fifteenth album is not due to drop until later this year, but the 24-year-old group claims to have already raised a £360,000 advance from loyal online followers. Some 12,011 fans have paid £29.99 for a deluxe version of the double-disc recording (working title: “M15”), which will be released independently by the band, a spokesman told Billboard. The pay-off for generous followers? Early-bird fans will get credits in liner notes and first dibs on 2008 concert tickets, plus private gigs. It’s the third album Marillion has made using the direct-to-fan web channel, meaning you can lump the act in with Radiohead, Slicethepie and others shaking the industry up. As with Radiohead, however, it’s an open-ended question how far an unknown band could use this model – consider that the highest-earning Slicethepie artists have so far only got about £16,000.