It’s about the money, honey! Those darn ticket prices

Lately, the blog has been void of truly controversial topics.  I have stuck to basics, like commemorating days in history and that sort of thing. The writing has been easy, and I’ve enjoyed not having my inbox/comments flooded with inflammatory and argumentative replies. I don’t miss that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, nor do I miss being called out by people on Twitter who really know nothing about me.

However, sometimes, no matter how incendiary a topic might be, it is worthy of some discussion. Amanda and I never used to shy away from the tough topics, and I don’t want to start that now just because of my own comfort zone.  Over the past few days, I noticed a friend comment about the ticket prices for Duran shows. I replied, commiserating over the cost.

On this same thread, another Duranie commented that he didn’t feel the band cared how we felt about their prices. First of all, let’s be clear: I am not all that sure that the band even knows what they charge for concert tickets. As Simon has said many times, they don’t really get involved on the business side – after all, that is why they hire management, right? Second, I would agree that they probably don’t care. I think the band comes out on stage, sees that most of the seats are full – if in fact they can even see that well past the first several rows – and they go about their business of playing their set. They aren’t fixated on how much their shows cost, only what they need to do at the time. Third, Simon himself (and I’m sorry to “pick” on Simon, it just so happens he’s the one who I remember making any mention of this subject) has said that when a fan buys a ticket to their show, they are getting a terrific value for their money.  So I think we all know where he stands, and I can’t blame him.

As the thread continued, another Duranie friend chimed in.  She’s seen them quite a bit over the years, and flat-out refuses to spend so much money to see a band that she’s seen so often. She continued by saying that their latest releases have underwhelmed her, and that also plays a part in her decision not to attend shows. I can’t argue with any of that, either. I mean, why pay to see a band that is putting out music you’re not into? Fair enough.

The one question that always seems to come up during these conversations is whether or not the band is really just into it for the money.  Now, before you hit the comment button here – I KNOW WHAT THE BAND HAS SAID. John Taylor has said in more than one Katy Kafe that it is not just about the money for them. I KNOW.  I would simply ask what do any of us think they’d really say in public?? I highly doubt ANY band would openly say they are still working and performing purely for the money. Even if we don’t think they’re ONLY in it for the cash (which for the record I do not), let’s be fair: making money is part of the deal. It’s called business.

Curiously, the answer to that one little question matters to fans. We white knuckle the belief that the band we love really is not about taking us for everything we’ve got and are willing to part with, to see them.  Yet I think most of us know in our heads that money has to enter into it all somewhere.  The question is, where is that line between having a successful career and selling out purely for cash drawn, and why?

Discussion points are continually made that the band isn’t continuing to sell out massively large venues, and that they’re playing Festivals and casinos. No argument there, although I have pointed out in some conversations that this past summer – they definitely came close to selling out at least some of the venues they performed in that while touring with Chic.  I’ll admit, in my own personal opinion, the ticket prices were pretty high (considerably so if you bought VIP, which I did).  While no, they aren’t playing the same size venues this spring [in the US], the ticket prices have not come down that much. I do see other bands besides Duran Duran on occasion, and while I pay the most to see DD (VIP cost having a lot to do with that so to some degree it is my own fault and I own that), I have found that other tickets are still expensive. It’s just not cheap to go to concerts anymore unless you’re willing to sit in the back or on the lawn.

This is not just about priority for fans. The implication that if you really want to see Duran Duran you’ll pay the price and if you’re just a fair-weather fan, you probably won’t and that’s your problem, is distasteful.That belief gives far too much leeway in passing judgment on others. After all, five years ago, I could afford to do whatever show(s) I wanted, and didn’t have to work outside of the home. Now, I can’t, and I work. Things change, and it isn’t just about priorities. There are real fans of the band who have just gotten to the point where they feel as though the ticket prices are too high to see the same basic set list, or to see songs from albums that just have not hit home.

In closing, I’ll throw out one more sub topic to mull over.  In recent weeks, Amanda and I have had conversations about where the band sits in the overall hierarchy of popularity.  The band (DDHQ) markets their success with Paper Gods.  I made the comment to Amanda just this past weekend that if one listened to management, it is easy to believe that things have never been better for the band.  On the other hand, the energy and buzz have certainly changed over the years we’ve written this blog. It is vastly different now, for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to really grasp the true interest level. On one hand, they can sell out the Hollywood Bowl when touring with Chic. On the other hand, they tend to go for the low hanging fruit and play festivals. They have the opportunity to play for huge crowds without the risk of booking massive venues on their own.  They also play a lot of casino shows.  More and more often, I read of long time fans decide to sit out shows and tours, saying that they’ve given enough to the band over the years.  Is it just the people I follow, or is it a growing trend, and why? Is it our age? Our circumstances? The cost? Are we really that worried about whether the band is only in it for the money these days – or is it just reason to complain?

-R

 

 

It’s Loaded with Fame

Sometimes, comments we receive on this blog get me thinking.  Last weekend, I posted a blog about how much hatred there still is surrounding Duran Duran.  Rhonda and I have blogged a lot about why there was/is so much stigma against Duran Duran.  In a nutshell,  the fact that they had a lot of teenage female fans hurt them in terms of getting creditability with the music press.  The assumption was/is that if a band is liked by a lot of little girls they cannot be quality.  Little girls only like bands because they find the members cute, right?  Of course not, but too many people believe this to be true, even today.

The comment we received last weekend, if I understood it correctly, blamed the band on the stigma they have.  The belief was that they had done something wrong to get this poor reputation.  As I moved through the week, I continued to think about this.  Did Duran Duran do something wrong through their career, in terms of female fans?  Should they do something different now as a result?

Duran Duran decided to allow the teen media to cover them.  John Taylor discussed this very fact in his autobiography.  He mentioned that he even brought up the subject of going to the teen press in order to get coverage.  “And so began a love affair with the British teen press, a courtship that would last years and trigger a level and type of fame that none of us had intended or could ever have expected.”  (Taylor page 153)  Clearly, John believes that this decision to appeal to the teen press led to fame.  I’m willing to bet that most of us agree with him.  Teenagers significantly helped create Duran’s incredible fame and popularity.

What if they decided to avoid that press?  Is it possible that Duran would have received more critical acclaim?  Sure.  I guess that is possible.  Could it be that the band would not have ever reached the fame they did, if they avoided that area?  That could be.  After all, the only reason that I’m here now, three plus decades later, is because Duran Duran was covered by the teen press.  I was a female kid who got into them during that time.  How can I reject that?

Is critical acclaim more important than being popular?  That’s a tough question for any artist.  Is the goal of artists to be deemed fabulous by critics?  Is that the goal?  Why do artists produce their art?  If I had to come up with a reason, I would argue that artists need to make art.  They need to create.  Yes, I’m sure that most would like to make money to do that.  Don’t we all want to make money for doing what we love?  Artists, though, in my experience, have a motivation to create that goes beyond making a career.  The act of creation is almost a need, a physical need.  I remember when my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer.  One aspect that bothered her the most was that her energy level would not let her work on her art.

If this is the case that artists need to create, I don’t know that critical acclaim matters the most to them.  I think the goal is to get that acclaim or press or whatever just to get the art out there.  Yes, ideally, they want to make money to do art for a living.  John knew that the press was essential to being a successful band.  While, yes, this decision resulted in criticism and ridicule, it also worked to spread their music all over the world so that people like me could hear them and become fans.

What is the solution then?  Is it to reject this decision or reject those teenage female fans?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think the right move is to blame the band for this decision.  Likewise, I don’t think the right move is to REALLY embrace male fans while ignoring the female fans (although we  all acknowledge that there were and are many dedicated male fans).  No, I believe the best course of action is to push back on the myth.  “What’s wrong with having a lot of female fans?  You don’t think that female fans can determine quality music?  Are you saying that only male fans should count?”  Make the sexism clear.  After all, isn’t that what this debate is really all about?

-A

Question of the Day: Sunday, February 19, 2017

Yesterday’s winner:  The Man Who Stole a Leopard

Which song do you like better:  Tiger Tiger or Union of the Snake?

Ultimate Box Set: Singles

A couple of weeks ago, I passed out a homework assignment to all Duranies out there, which you can read about here.  The task asked fans to put together their ultimate Duran Duran box set.  This special set of songs needed to include 7 songs that were released as singles, 7 album tracks or non-singles, 7 b-sides or demos, 7 live tracks, and 7 side and solo project songs.  I looked forward to each person’s “box set” and I assumed that I would have enjoyed compiling the results.  Unfortunately, I haven’t received many assignments.  This is not good and it is not fun.

Of course, I wonder why I didn’t get more results.  Did I not give enough time for people to complete the assignment?  Was it too hard?  Did I ask too much or give too many categories?  Did I make the assignment too complicated or difficult to turn in?  No matter, the teacher in me will not give up.  I will ask the question in a different way with a new way to share one’s opinion.

First, let’s take one category at a time.  The first part was to find out which singles people would want to include.  Each person is allowed 7 songs out of the entire list of singles.  Instead of asking people to figure out which songs were singles and then produce a list, I thought I would create a poll instead.  Then, people can just check the 7 singles they would want included in a Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  Easy enough, right?  Let’s hope.

So, here is the poll for all of you to pick the 7 singles you would include in a box set.  Please ONLY VOTE FOR 7!  If you vote for more than 7 singles, the results might be off.  Thanks!!!

Next week, we will do the next question, which is favorite album tracks.  I look forward to all the results.  Have fun!

-A

Question of the Day: Saturday, February 18, 2017

Yesterday’s winner:  Hungry Like the Wolf

Which song do you like better:  The Man Who Stole a Leopard or Palomino?

13 Years Ago…Outstanding Contribution Award

Fun fact:  I typically do Friday’s blog on Thursday night.  I do not have time to blog Friday morning before I go to work.  Sometimes, I plan ahead in my mind about what to blog about and other times the topic hits me when I sit down to type.  In this case, I knew that I needed fun, something light-hearted.  My Thursday was a little rough, to say the least.

In looking at this day in Duran history, I realized that Duran Duran received the Outstanding Contribution to Music Awards at the Brits in 2004.  I remember seeing the clip below in the summer of 2004.  I felt proud of them and proud to be a fan of theirs in watching.  Their speech as well as their performance clearly showed them to be the intelligent, articulate, professional musicians that they are.  In watching it, I recall thinking to myself that I have no idea how people cannot see their greatness.  See for yourself below:

The first aspect of this clip that I love is the montage in the beginning, showing clips throughout the band’s history.  Of course, they skipped some years and eras but I still love seeing the band’s accomplishments shown like that.  Tell me that I’m not the only one!

Then, Justin Timberlake reads a blurb about the band that shows off much of what makes Duran great.  He mentions everything from bringing in different genres, writing and performing their own music and embracing the music video.  Again, like the montage, I appreciate all that this description includes.

Lastly, the band clearly prepared and practiced a solid acceptance speech.  I like how they included so much in what they said.  Not only did they mention their influences, families and people who worked with and for them, they also acknowledged the fans. At that moment, I recognized that they, too, felt proud in their accomplishments.  At the same time, they appreciated who helped them get to where they are,.

After watching this clip again, I definitely believe that I chose well.  The clip made me smile and helped me escape the crazy, crappy day I had.  It also gave me the chance to silently congratulate Duran Duran once again from my own house, even 13 years later.

-A

Question of the Day: Friday, February 17, 2017

Yesterday’s winner:  Hold Back the Rain

Which song do you like better:  Butterfly Girl or Hungry Like the Wolf?

Happy 56th Birthday Andy Taylor!

Today is Andy Taylor’s birthday.

I remember the last time I saw a show with Andy – I believe it was in Las Vegas at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Charity show. October 1, 2005.

That was just over eleven years ago. I don’t know where the time goes, but somehow, it went. Andy is 56 today, and I am hoping he is happily enjoying his life somewhere, with his family, and feeling at peace.

I can remember chatting with him during a tweet marathon a few years ago – I liked him.  I never had the chance to really know him as anyone but “Andy Taylor from Duran Duran”, but on that one day, at that time, it didn’t matter.  I was a fan, and that experience will stay with me forever.

Many may not know this, but I wrote blogs for Andy’s (now defunct) website – andytaylor.tv for a while. I don’t want to over-characterize it, I didn’t work for him, and the blogs weren’t paid submissions, but I cared.  Andy felt strongly that it was time for fans to get more involved, to have more of a voice, and I championed that cause. I still do, in many ways. I also see that once you’ve been branded with the title of “fan” it is engraved upon you forever. No matter who I really am, or what I really try to do, that name supersedes.  People from the industry – whether band, management, or something else entirely – meet me, and the initial assumption is always that I must be one of those “crazy fans”.  It can sometimes feel like a very high hurdle to get past, and it’s not just ME – it’s any and all fans.  Andy understood that, partially because he was faced with a slightly similar dilemma. No matter who he is or what he tries to do, he will always be “Andy Taylor from Duran Duran”.  That ghost seems to be very difficult to live with, or live without.

I may not have always wanted to agree with his assessment of certain situations, and perhaps I’ve learned to accept his absence and move on – I still miss him.  I hope he is enjoying life out of the spotlight, and has a wonderful birthday.  Fifty-six years and counting!!

-R

 

Question of the Day: Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yesterday’s winner:  Sound of Thunder

Which song do you like better (for favorite weather song):  Hold Back the Rain and Sound of Thunder?

Experience, Strength and Hope Award 2013

Sorry for the late blog today, I needed to attend to some real-life issues at home.

In the interest of time, I will keep today’s post short and sweet, but momentous. On this date in 2013, John Taylor received the Experience, Strength and Hope Award from Writers in Treatment.

I remember covering this special recognition on our blog – you can read more about it here.

I think this date in history is one to truly celebrate. Since completing his own rehab, John Taylor has gone out of his way to help other people through addiction. I have personally spoken to people who have been inspired by John. He encouraged and supported them while they worked incredibly hard to overcome their illnesses. John is definitely not someone who just spouts words, but works tirelessly to “walk the walk”.  I applaud that however and whenever possible.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that John was being honored with this recognition, nor am I ever surprised to hear that he continues to  work with groups like Road Recovery.  While I do not know John personally, I know enough to realize he is a man with integrity, kindness, and compassion. These are traits that can be difficult to find these days, and yes – I suppose in particular it might be difficult to find a rock star that is quite so self-aware.  John probably wouldn’t characterize himself as perfect…but he is likely closer than most! 😀  My pride as a fan is shared by  many, I am sure.

So while I would jump up and down with excitement at the memory of any award Duran Duran has won, I am especially proud to unearth this memory from the past.  When I think about what we all could have lost, I am grateful that John was able to get help, recover, and be here on this planet with us today. The music would never be the same without him.

-R

 

 

 

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!