Something has been catching my attention since Paper Gods was released but I kept putting those words, and the feelings that went with them, on the back burner for later.
One thing I’ve noticed in my “adulthood”, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran and their press—specifically during interviews—is that they have talking points. I’m sure most everyone reading knows what I mean: they’re these discussion points that they want to get across.
One of those talking points I’ve heard quite frequently since Paper Gods was released is specifically about their audience at shows. At first, I noticed John mention that they’re starting to see guys in their audience, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I started hearing some of the other members mention it as well, along with the vast age range that comes to see them. Now, I hear both of those things in every single interview they do. Clearly, this is something they want to drive home.
Let me share the interview posted yesterday. It was done with a San Antonio, Texas news station. If you listen, you’ll hear John working the audience into one of his comments. Gotta give the band credit, they are pros at interviewing after having done it for nearly 40 years. They’re old hat at this by now, but of course, they should be, shouldn’t they? Here’s the link:
Duran Duran made a point of tweeting this interview out yesterday, which is why I watched it. Truth be told, in the past several weeks, Amanda and I have caught precious little of the news. It’s been hit or miss for us catching the media (mostly miss), and so had they not tweeted this, I probably wouldn’t have ever seen the interview. Once I watched though, I tweeted back to Duran Duran. I’m not one to censor my feelings, but I’ve gotten pretty good at thinly veiled sarcasm. My tweet to them was no exception:
“They really do put a lot of value on their broadened audience of younger people and males in these interviews. Wow.”
To my surprise, @DuranDuran liked my tweet, because of course, that’s the point they’re trying to drive like a nail into wood. The thing is, I know I’m not the only hard-core fan out there to notice the value they place on this newly found younger and far more male audience of theirs. Rest assured, I’m not finding fault that they want a broad audience. That’s the name of the game.
To Duran Duran, that audience of males and of younger people, is an untapped market. Let’s start with the men though. They obviously want men to feel like they can come see Duran Duran and that they won’t be alone. That’s pretty obvious in their interviews by the way they keep commenting on how many men they see coming to see them. Funny thing, my husband came with me to see Duran Duran at the Belasco last month, and he took note that he was one of very few males in line for most of the day. When we got in the theater, while he noticed there were plenty of men (with wives in most cases, a point that I think is pretty key going forward here) standing behind him, there were relatively none in front of him in the first and second rows.
Then there’s younger people. This point is a little stickier for me. First of all, I WAS one of those young people once. So were many of you reading this post. I can remember sticking up for this band to my classmates. While they were all over U2, Prince and The Police, or all over The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Smiths, there I was, telling them how they were completely missing the point with Duran Duran. I can remember taking real heat about Nick’s makeup or their frilly shirts, or how they were “way too pretty” to be taken seriously. As I grew up, those arguments morphed into, “Aren’t you too old to still have their posters up?” and “Duran Duran? Are they even still together?” Or even better, “You go to so many shows. Are you a groupie?” or, “You couldn’t possibly know anything about music. You’re a GIRL. You’re just hoping you’ve got a chance with one of them after the show.” Ouch.
Through it all, I stuck by them. I still stick by them. To this very day, I put up with an enormous amount of backlash from people who don’t even KNOW me because they think that the only reason I go to see Duran Duran is because I’m hoping that one of them will somehow notice me from the stage and invite me backstage and beyond for the night. That judgment comes from others outside the fandom, and sadly, men within the fandom. This post isn’t about blatant sexism though—that’s another blog for another day. My point is simply that many of those “old soccer moms” in the audience, you know, the ones who have been married to Herman the accountant for twenty years, have stuck by the band since nearly day one, and that deserves some recognition, respect, and/or value.
That doesn’t mean a grand gesture. Nobody, least of all me, is saying the band should get down on their hands and knees and thank the fans for supporting them for all these years. That’s not the point, so anyone who is planning to send me a love note can just stop. But, it wouldn’t kill the band to follow-up those beautiful talking points about their broadening fan base with a simple sentence about how they really value their hard-core fan base and that it’s great to see that audience continuing to grow beyond these fans who have stuck by them all these years. That’s called “providing balance”, because right now—that original fan base is not really ever mentioned. All it takes is a little bit, a well-placed comment or two here and there to keep people happy and believing that we’re still of some value. As much as I’ve been holed up in my writing cave for the past couple of months, I’ve been out and about enough to know that the natives are growing unhappy.
I’m sure people will happily point out to me that the band isn’t trying to cast us aside, and that this is part of the business. 100% correct. Growing your audience is part of the business. This though, is something different. This is about seeking balance so that one doesn’t lose the audience they already have. The idea is to build upon the foundation, not demolish the entire community and start over. While many might say that they don’t notice or that they don’t care, I gotta say—I see it, read it and hear it enough online, in person and otherwise to know it’s an issue.
Newsflash: some people are actually afraid to post their feelings online for fear that they’re publicly flogged for saying something negative. They just hope WE do it for them. Because you know, Amanda and I rather enjoy being ripped to shreds. It’s been a while….
Remember Sing Blue Silver? I remember the days when the audiences were made up nearly entirely of girls like me. Yes, we were loud. We were enthusiastic, and we loved the band. Somehow, that spark stuck with US for the span of the band’s career thus far, and here we all are together. Sometimes, I forget that one of those young girls watching Sing Blue Silver at home, nearly in tears because I felt the same thing these girls felt, was me.
(quick, before it’s removed! check out 15:40 or so and just remember what we were like once.)