Category Archives: DDM

Shouldn’t VIP seats be great?

Happy New Year!

It is my first blog of 2017 and I am hoping this post finds everyone happy and healthy.  Many of you are making your way home from the  New Year shows in Washington DC – safe travels! I have to say, sitting these shows out and staying at home wasn’t nearly as depressing as I thought. Not that I didn’t miss being there to see the band, but seeing the posts and updates from Amanda gave me a totally different perspective than I would have had if I were there too. It was interesting, not that I’d seriously try to recommend staying home to anyone!  I just didn’t have a choice, and I needed to make the best of it. I am going to have to get used to that, until I win the lottery.

Since I’ve been at home, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot about the venue. From a dress code that didn’t seem to be enforced to a countdown to New Years during the show that did not include the band dragged down spirits a bit. On the upside: DURAN DURAN. I mean, what could be better than that?  I have a hard time thinking of anything else that could be better than spending New Year’s weekend seeing Duran Duran.

Take it from someone who wasn’t there: I WISH.  I saw plenty of tweets, posts and comments that began with the words, “Once in a lifetime”.  I get it, and I have to concur. Those of us who weren’t there missed out (although I speak solely for myself when I say that I’ve gotten to do a lot of other “once in a lifetime” things as a result of this band – so missing one weekend won’t kill me).

On the other hand, had I spent the nearly $400 a show to see the band, I would have been very disappointed to get to the venue and see this view:

photo taken on an iPhone with no zoom, courtesy of Jennifer Burroughs

That’s a view from a VIP seat. In order to see any portion of the stage, the person in the seat had to angle way to the side. If they looked straight ahead, this may have been their view:

This is a photo Amanda took the first night.

Sure, the seats were close, and there’s no argument about that. Close seats, however, are not always “great seats”, and they definitely aren’t the “great seats” that paying nearly $400 for a VIP tickets should get you. These seats are partially obstructed, and should not be marketed as anything else. Shame on the venue for that. Sure, you might be in the first six rows, but if those rows face a brick wall and you never see the band – are they really VIP? That’s my question to all of you.

In an online discussion about this very issue, I mentioned that Amanda and I really try to do our homework before pre-sales. We search online for images of the venue. We even look to see photos from people in the audience, just to try to get a handle on the length of the stage as opposed to seating. Then we print out a copy of the seating chart, and we try to make sure that we know how the seats are numbered within each section. Buyer beware: even the seating charts that ticket agencies use sometimes aren’t always the best or most accurate. That’s why we take a good look at any photos  we can find online. Those are things we do ahead of time, so that way when row 2, seats 45 and 46 show up in our basket at the pre-sale, we can decide for ourselves whether or not we want them. And believe it or not, we’ve thrown second row seats back before because they were so far to the side that it didn’t matter. We’ve agreed that we’d rather be back a bit farther but in the middle than be way off to one side.  But that’s a choice that YOU must make as a buyer. We all want different things. So let’s look at the seating chart used for this pre-sale:

seating chart for MGM

It feels very counterintuitive, or even greedy, to throw back first or second row VIP seats because they’re not more to the middle. No doubt about it. I’m certainly not telling anybody what to do here because I don’t know what I would have done, had I participated in the pre-sale. Which brings me to another point.

Shouldn’t VIP seats be, well….great?

In the past on DDM (and by past I mean PAST)…we’d participate in pre-sales and not be guaranteed to have the best seats. It was explained that the DDM allocation for pre-sales were 10% of the best and worst seats in the venue, and it was a crap-shoot as to what you might get. DDM customers knew that risk going in, and I don’t know many of us who weren’t burned at least once. Those pre-sales, however, were not VIP. They were simply fan pre-sales. Over time, DDM began promoting their own VIP packages in various forms, whether they included cocktail parties, meet and greets, tiers, merchandise, or just the “great seat”.  Keeping in mind that during a pre-sale, you could go for just a regular seat OR pay the extra to do VIP.  Call me crazy, but if you’re paying the surcharge for VIP, you’re probably expecting a really good seat – one that doesn’t have you staring directly at a wall.

Granted, I’m not entirely sure that DDM has much control over what the venue touts as a “great seat”.  It isn’t as though DDM actually sorts through the tickets themselves and allocates them to fans (although at one time, they did). I just know that as a fan, if I bought a VIP ticket and ended up with that kind of view—I’d think twice before buying another. It doesn’t beg for repeat business.

I saw quite a few comments to DDM from “owners” of these types of side-seat tickets. Many asked if this is really how the band should treat their VIP customers. I can understand the question and the sentiment. I also have a fair idea of just how much attention DDHQ pays to such complaints. Unfortunately, it’s widely regarded that the only comments online are the negative ones, which is incredibly untrue (those are just the ones easily seen, which says more about the viewer than it does the countless GOOD things I see every day about the band).

Here’s the problem: we are customers. We also happen to be fans. Those are two different things. Sometimes, I feel that DDM and subsequently DDHQ forget that point. Fans can be fans without being customers; and many customers really aren’t fans. But, once they are truly customers – when they buy something directly from DDM—they should be treated as such.  The complaints have little do with crazy fans, it’s about wanting good service. It is wanting the goods and services one paid for. The relationship is transactional, not emotional.

I’m somewhat dismayed by just how many times I see the comment, “You saw a great show for the ticket price” or “The band puts on a fantastic show.”  without any validation given to the concerns of the customer. Particularly so when the complaints aren’t about the band doing their job, but about the folks behind the scenes doing theirs.

-R

DDM Gold Membership Merchandise Wrap Up

Last week I received an email letting me know that my Duran Duran Music Gold membership merchandise package had been shipped. I was surprised because I’d completely forgotten about it!  I vaguely remembered reading that it would take about 6 weeks (after renewing) to receive the merchandise, and to be honest I couldn’t even remember when I’d actually renewed, but I was excited to read that it was on its way.

The package made it to my house yesterday, and it felt a little like Christmas as I opened the long, rectangular package addressed to me. I didn’t realize that this was coming from DDM until I opened the box and pulled out the first item: an umbrella!

sorry about my beautiful place mat in the background

Admittedly, the umbrella is what sold me on the upgrade to gold membership on DDM. If I think of the amount of times I have said that I needed to bring an umbrella to a DD concert for possible use during White Lines…well, when I saw the gold package included an umbrella, we’ll just say it spoke to me. This umbrella does not disappoint and is not your ordinary drugstore umbrella.  No…this thing is HUGE, measuring about 4 feet across when open (from spine to spine across the middle) It is a push-button automatic open (pull down to release and pack away), and feels very heavy-duty compared to the cheap umbrellas I buy for our California sprinkles over the years.  Two people could easily fit underneath, and if our predicted “El Niño” weather pattern holds true for California this year, I am sure it will get a lot of use!

Yes, those are my cat's paws in the background there. She is incredibly strong-willed and not very well-behaved...and very big.
Yes, those are my cat’s paws in the background there. She is incredibly strong-willed and not very well-behaved…and very big.

After pulling out the umbrella and realizing what this package was, I excitedly pulled the rest of the merchandise out of the box: a t-shirt, a keychain in a black pouch, a power bank, a pen, a pad of post-its, and a lyric sheet.

The t-shirt came to me with the correct size, and when I tried it on, it was very roomy. The silver foil looks great, and I’m very happy with it. I’m pretty sure this is a unisex sized t-shirt, and while I’ve heard of people getting the wrong size, I am happy to say that mine worked out just fine.

tshirt

The keychain (pictured without the pouch) has a nice quality silver-finish, and doubles as a bottle opener (they know their fans and I love the utilitarian value here). The interlocking D’s are engraved on it, and it’s already doing it’s duty on my keychain.

my apologies for the blur here...my phone didn't like taking a picture of this one.
my apologies for the blur here…my phone didn’t like taking a picture of this one.

I can hardly wait to be out and about and use my power bank – especially while on tour with Amanda. Seriously, I’m always out of power with at least ONE of my electronics…so this is handy! I like that the end lights up blue and indicates when it needs charged….and truly, it takes very little to entertain me!!

powerbank

 

The pen is a really fancy ball point pen that I haven’t tried using yet…this will be hidden deep in my closet so that my family doesn’t steal this pen like they have my others…

pen

 

The post-its were probably the least exciting item in my gold package. This is not because I don’t want DD post-its, but because I will be afraid to use them for fear of the day when I run out! I’m the same way about the DD wrapping paper and other “consumable” items that the webstore sells…which probably says way more about me than anyone cares to know…

these are about 2 x 3 inches...about the same size as a typical post it. They're great unless you're like me and afraid of using them all...
these are about 2 x 3 inches…about the same size as a typical post it. They’re great unless you’re like me and afraid of using them all…

The lyric sheet was the one real “miss” in the entire package. You see, when I pulled out all of the merchandise and went through it, I realized that I didn’t have the lyric sheet. So, I looked in the box to see if I missed it. Didn’t see it right away, so then I felt around and sure enough – I found it.  The lyrics are copied onto standard thickness stationary that has a beige stippled look to it.  Kind of reminds me of the kind of paper one would use for a treasure map, so it sort of has that “old” look to it.  Nicer than putting it on a standard piece of copy paper, not quite as nice as having it on cardstock. The problem is that due to the way it was packed along the inside of the rectangle box (to fit the umbrella) and now has fold marks. I didn’t really know what I would do with this, but framing it is kind of out of the question now (probably??) since the paper is now wrinkled…but I don’t think I would have framed it anyway because that’s not really my thing. That said, I know my fellow fans. Someone out there probably would want to frame it, and this is likely going to piss that someone off.  I don’t know what DDM could have done to ship this so that it wouldn’t be folded and wrinkled, except to maybe do the merchandise in two shipments, one for the umbrella and hard sided items and another for these lyrics so they could be shipped flat. Yes, that would cost more, but I think that at least having that option available for fans (to pay for better shipping), might solve the problem. As it is now, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with these lyrics…not that I really knew what to do with them before. It’s one of those things that is nice to have since Simon wrote them (and completely mislabeled the second verse as v1, which makes me laugh because you know that he dashed these off super quick!), and now I get to figure out how best to save them.

lyrics
not sure if this really shows the wrinkles as well as it does in normal light…just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you’re still waiting for your merchandise!

All in all, I’m extremely pleased with the merchandise! No, it wasn’t all that important to have, but they’re nice “extras” and I don’t treat myself to DD merchandise all that often (as in maybe once every couple of years!!). Thumbs up from me!

-R

 

Here Comes the News

While I don’t have a lot beyond Duran Duran news crumbs to share today…I’ll do what I can!!

New Gold Membership Merchandise Package at DDM

Yesterday, DuranDuranMusic, the paid fan community for Duran Duran, announced a new “Gold” package membership. At $79.99 for the year, the package includes all of the exclusives from the Silver level ($35.00 a year) below:

  • Full Access to the Duran Duran VIP community
  • Access to Presale Tickets, tour and show updates, set lists etc. when band is on tour
  • VIP Ticket Packages (including amazing seats, exclusive items) when band is on tour
  • Exclusive Content JUST for community members including a monthly band audio interview
  • Monthly Contests to win personal items, signed merch, Meet & Greets when band is on tour and more
  • FAN2FAN Features (Personalize and customize your fan site, create your own fan blogs, journals, and photo albums that you can share with other members, participate in forums, and private messaging)
  • Communicate and share with other Members

Plus the exclusive merchandise “Gold membership” bundle listed below:

  • An exclusive NEW custom designed T-shirt featuring a silver foil design
  • Logo’d lightweight, digitally powered 1800mAh Power Bank for cell phones and digital products (Note: Phone not included)
  • Custom Giant Telescoping Umbrella with new silver DD logo
  • Laser Engraved Logo’d Keychain Bottle Opener
  • Fridge magnet with new DD logo
  • Logo’d Micro Sticky Pad for those “important” notes
  • Grip “Roller Plus” Pen with DD logo
  • Reproduction of Simon’s handwritten lyrics to “Pressure Off” (Not pictured)

This brought me to a quandary. Do I wait until August, when my membership expires, or do I get it now? Truth be told, I’ve never done anything other than Silver level membership (my partner-in-crime bought gold last time, see her review.) Why now, you ask?  I wanted that umbrella. Yes, I live in So CA. Yes, I know the chances of my using it (here) are slim..but I wanted it anyway.  I also figure that chances are, I’ll have learned the lyrics to Pressure Off before the band even releases the single, with this package!  (I kid, I kid!!)

DDM clarifies that if your renewal isn’t up for several months, you can go ahead and renew now, and they’ll add another 12 months to your existing membership date – so in my case, I won’t be up for renewal until August of 2016. That seems fair, but what about the people who have already renewed this year at Silver because there wasn’t a new Gold package? You can either renew again and yes, they really will extend your membership renewal date out another 12 months, OR you can long in to DDM and there is apparently supposed to be a link you can click on to receive only the merchandise upgrade to your existing membership.

There has been a little confusion on the part of members about memberships renewed earlier this year, so don’t be afraid to ask DDM for answers to clarify; although sadly, I’ve also been told that the responses from DDM have been incredibly rude at best. That’s unfortunate given that fans are truly the site’s bread and butter, and it is just a part of customer service. I really wish the folks in charge of the fan community would just LEARN that and put it into practice, and if they can’t be bothered – hire people who WILL. It continually looks bad for the band when the people in charge of their fan club are rude to the very people the club is meant to attract: FANS.

Bottom line on renewals: they aren’t adding extra months to an existing membership, but they’re also not going to change my membership renewal date to June because I happened to renew now instead of waiting until August, either. Fair enough. Sold!  I’ll let you all know what I think of the merchandise once I receive it…hopefully I will get it faster than that 4-6 weeks mentioned, but we’ll see!

Still In The Mix

Have you been wondering what Duran Duran are up to?  Well, it turns out that they’re still working with Spike Stent in the studio, mixing the new album. I’m not sure if they are only working on Pressure Off, or if it’s all of DD14…or something else entirely, but they’re definitely working. AND…if you were wondering if Nick is still The Controller…I think this photo and the caption (from DDHQ on FB) speaks volumes.

"Spike Stent is a very patient man" - Nick Rhodes
“Spike Stent is a very patient man” – Nick Rhodes

The appearance of this photo on Facebook stirred some comments because many (including myself) had thought that the album had already been finished – including mixing – but you know, things change. We’re still closer now than we were a year ago, and surely live dates will be coming.

Along those same lines, there has been a kerfuffle of activity on Twitter today with regard to the single, “Pressure Off”.  As many may have noticed, all signs of said single have vanished from the stratosphere we know as “The Internet”.  Unless you managed to rip a copy of one of the less-than-clear files roaming YouTube and the like back in March – I doubt you’ll find hide nor hair of the song online. So, we all continue to wait in anticipation for the single to be released sometime in July. However, on a recent Katy Kafe, mention was made that perhaps maybe there would be a taste of the song for fans to hear sometime “soonish”.  Not much has been mentioned since the Kafe, but today a fan asked about the possibility of such an appearance, and they were told “Well maybe. but definitely THIS MONTH” by DDHQ.  Listen Duranies, you can take that comment however you want, and wish for whatever you’d like; but I’m going to point out that it is now June 2nd. July is less than 30 days away right now…so when they say THIS MONTH….I think we can count on hearing that single in another month, you know?

Residency?

Lastly, I’ve been catching up on my reading…and with the summer festivals nearly upon us, #Duranlive is coming. Yesterday I caught up with an interview on DTLV with John Taylor done in promotion for their upcoming performance at the Life Is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas. (Incidentally, despite the corny title, “Duran Duran is Still Hungry” the article is very good.) John discusses the idea of doing a residency in Vegas. He likes the idea of the venue building the room around them, and being able to “really experiment” with the performance.

This is something Amanda and I have been talking about for years, actually.  We would love to see them settle somewhere and do a residency. Yes, I’m aware they did one in NYC a few years back. It would be nice to have them acknowledge that the rest of the country matters – or even their OWN country for a change, don’t you agree?  No matter where they chose to do one, it may give fans an opportunity to travel, see the band for a show or three, AND see the city.  It would cut travel for the band, and maybe even give them the chance to experiment with different set lists and even entire performances.  It might even be a great way to introduce a musical written and produced by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor….just thinking “out loud” here…

DDHQ says to be on the lookout for more press now that the Summer festivals are nearly upon us, so keep those eyes open!

-R

When you talk about loyalty

If you did not hear the news about the Austin show or the “secret” show in Monterey, California yesterday, you must have been off of the internet yesterday and unlike me – you were probably very productive. Well done!

For me though, the day was, well…busy.  Don’t get me wrong, I like busy. This was the sort of busy that happens after months and months of nothing. This was the kind of busy that takes your breath away for a minute, and you have to kind of snap yourself back into reality, wondering what to announce first, whether or not you should blog, and most importantly…whether or not you should enter a contest, which brings me to the subject of this blog.  Sit back, relax and prepare to laugh.

There are always going to be shows that we can’t do. I, for instance, cannot really book a plane and head off to, say, South America. I would LOVE to do that, I really would, but if the band were to play in Argentina, I would probably have to pass on those shows. Yesterday when the band announced the show in Austin and I realized that the show was actually on a Saturday in November – within striking distance of my birthday, there was a brief second when I thought “What if?!?” It didn’t take me long to come crashing back down to reality when I saw the prices for the show. Not to mention that I’d need to travel and find somewhere to stay, but the ticket prices are pretty high. I can honestly say that Amanda and I have never paid anywhere near $575 for a ticket, and if you know us, you already know that there’s no way we would settle for the cheaper (HA!) balcony tickets at $325 a piece. Been there, done that, I need the floor thank you. For me, dreams of that trip ended. There are always going to be shows that we can’t do.

So, I spent a large portion of the rest of my day helping my daughter Heather start her dance applications for college. I’m going to apologize right now for bringing her up on the blog – because by the time she graduates in May and goes off to college in August of next year, you’re all likely to know her very well! It’s going to be a very stressful year for ME as a mom, and the way I’m planning to work through this is by talking about it here. I’m sorry. I just hope maybe that some of you will understand  and maybe use some of what I share to help your own kids out. Or else you can just laugh at our missteps, because I’m sure there are going to be PLENTY. Anyway, we were working on a dance essay. Let me share the topic: You’re choreographing a dance number for about 15 kids – the kicker is that those 15 kids are ALL YOU at various ages in your life, from 3 years old on up to your present age (which for her is 17). Describe the dance, the kids in the dance and how you might use some of these kids for special parts in the dance. What is your methodology? I sat and watched Heather’s brain basically explode before we started…so that was fun. This is application number ONE of like twelve. It’s going to be a long Autumn.

It wasn’t until late afternoon when someone sent me a direct message that I started paying attention to the internet again. The notification on my phone went off and I knew I’d better check it. Little did I realize that MY brain was about to explode. The message sent me the link to the information about the secret show in Monterey California, and in case you haven’t read it or know what I’m talking about – which is kind of important – here it is! (taken from duranduranmusic.com)

“Duran Duran will be playing a private show at a secret location in Monterey CA on September 3rd at 6pm. If you are a DD VIP member and are in the area (and, most importantly, will be able to attend) please send an email to ddvip@magusentertainment.com with MONTEREY in the subject line. 

Act fast as the deadline to enter is Wednesday August 27th at 5pm. We will randomly select 5 winners, who can bring a guest, and will announce on the Fan Community website on Thursday August 28th. 

Winners will receive all of the details via private email. 

GOOD LUCK!”

Monterey is a little north of me as I live in Orange County – but what’s four or five hours of driving if we’re talking about Duran Duran?? As I mulled over the possibilities, three things came to mind:

1. I can drive to this show. Thus, it’s not REALLY “traveling” (I’ve been put on “traveling restriction” due to some silly thing about budgeting from the last tour….) Besides, it’s not really touring either, because Amanda cannot join me (and this for me is the real tragedy. I can just picture us on a road trip in my car going up to Monterey!!) I know how to split hairs, and this is totally just barely inside the current “Rivera Household Regulations”

2. This is the day BEFORE my kids start school. Thus, it is really still Summer! (never mind how I’m going to get my kids to school that following day)

3. I am not currently a paid member of Duranduranmusic.com.

Wait what?  Hold the phone…what?!?

That’s right. I gave up my membership quite a while ago. Truth be told, and I’ve blogged about this many, MANY times here – I felt that the management of DDM was well, awful. I know that we’ve gone through a couple different fan club management teams now, and I’ve noticed very little by way of actual improvements – but it was a couple (few?) years ago when, in a fit of disgust, I said no more. I would NOT pay money to an organization that couldn’t keep track of who was a member, who had paid, and most importantly – that did virtually nothing for it’s members. That’s not to say I didn’t love Duran Duran or that I felt as though they had anything directly to do with what was happening with DDM, but I had to make decisions based on what *I* knew. So I quit. I didn’t renew, and up until yesterday, I didn’t feel that I was missing anything. Amanda still had her membership, and when we bought tickets, she simply used hers. Other than that, she really didn’t use DDM much.

So, I sat there pondering point number 3 on my list. I alternately bit my thumbnail (horrible habit) and chewed my bottom lip (another terrible nervous habit of mine). Do I join? If I join, will it count? Can I still enter the contest? If I join, does it make me look like an ass for not renewing until there was a contest? I hate being a hypocrite, so how do I feel about DDM these days anyway? More lip chewing and nail biting.

I’m sure many of you would have bought the membership without even thinking twice. Still more of you already HAVE your membership and are probably thinking that I’m an idiot for not having one, but that since I’m not currently a member that’s my problem. You’re absolutely right on all accounts. Fair enough. For me, it’s the principle. I spoke with my dollars – the fan community sucked and I wasn’t going to pay for it. Has that really changed?

The ONE thing that has changed is that DDHQ brought DDM back in-house. They know what’s going on there because they’re the ones managing it. Now whether that’s going to be a resounding success or a disaster remains to be seen, but there is some comfort (at least in MY head) that the band’s management is now directly involved. That doesn’t mean it will be perfect, but you know – it might be improved. The platform itself is great, they just need people to run it that actually care. So, as I thought about that, I found myself filling out the information to rejoin.

So I did the one thing I swore I’d never do again…and that was be a part of DDM. Damn it. That said, I have a blog and I’m not afraid to use it. I’m truly hoping that the site becomes a source of pride and somewhere for fans to gather rather than a laughing point amongst fans, but in either case I’ll be watching and reporting.

In the meantime, I’m trying very hard not to think about that contest. I typically have terrible luck, so while I’m crossing various appendages hoping that I win, I also realize that the chances are slim.  But, you can’t win if you don’t play, right?

-R

 

 

 

 

 

Duran Duran Music Gold Package Review

Are you a member of DDM?  If not, do you know what the membership covers?  Duran Duran Music (DDM), the official fan community for Duran Duran, offers two levels of memberships, a silver and a gold.  According to the website here, these levels get fans the following:

The SILVER LEVEL – only $35 per year
12 Months of Exclusives!

– Full Access to the NEW Duran Duran VIP community
– Access to Presale Tickets, tour and show updates, set lists etc. when band is on tour
– VIP Ticket Packages (including amazing seats, exclusive items) when band is on tour
– Exclusive Content JUST for community members including a monthly band audio interview 
– Monthly Contests to win personal items, signed merch, Meet & Greets when band is on tour and more 
– FAN2FAN Features (Personalize and customize your fan site, create your own fan blogs, journals, and photo albums that you can share with other members, participate in forums, and private messaging)
– Communicate and share with other Members 

The gold package offers all of that plus additional merchandise.  The additional merchandise listed below was updated in February.    

GOLD members receive everything in SILVER (a $35 value) PLUS:

– An exclusive NEW T-shirt designed by Patty Palazzo featuring a gold foil design 
– Stylish multi-compartment messenger bag with brand new Duran logo on flap 
– Heavy-duty hard top mouse pad – perfect for home or office 
– Red and black logo’d luggage tag for traveling in style 
– Fridge magnet with new interlocking DD logo
– Executive-style embossed padfolio with interior card slots 
– Executive leather pen with logo’d silver cap 
– Welcome letter from Simon Le Bon 

Since I recently received my package, I thought it would be good to share my review of the merch, in case anyone was thinking about signing up!

New t-shirt:

Gold t-shirt

First, I love the design.  I have to admit that I love most of Patty Palazzo’s designs but there is something that I REALLY like about this one.  Perhaps, I feel like she has captured the Duran essence in that it is ALL about the music.  It isn’t about the band’s looks or anything like that.  It is about the music.  Second, the fact that foil is used is so cool.  It gives the shirt something special.  Lastly, the quality is good as is the size.  I have heard that some people did not like the sizing but it worked well for me.

Messenger Bag:

bag 2

I was really unsure about this.  I had the messenger bag from one of the last gold packages and really liked that one.  At first glance, this one seemed cheap.  The material was thinner, the strap was not as long, and it wasn’t that big.  Yet, I have been using it a lot this last week and I have found it to be very useful.  First, the material is different than the last one.  I suspect that while this material is less thick and provides less padding, this one would be easier to clean.  While the strap doesn’t go as long, it is a perfect length for me.  The same is true with the size.  It fits my laptop perfectly.  I also like that this one can be closed in a more secure fashion than the last one, which was just closed with a tiny piece of velcro at the top.  Lastly, the color scheme is much more my style and I adore this logo.  If this is what they will be going with for DD14, I’m all for it!

Mouse Pad:

mouse pad

I thought this was a strange choice.  While I realize that some people still use desktops and/or a separate mouse with a laptop, I just don’t see a lot of mouse pads being bought and sold.  This particular mouse pad is a nice size with a smooth finish and again that cool logo.  For me personally, this just won’t get as much use as other items in the package simply because I use my laptop a lot more.

Luggage Tag:

luggage tag

This one really made me smile.  As someone who travels to go see shows, I love the idea of having a Duran Duran luggage tag to use!  Let’s hope I have shows to travel for soon enough!  Again, this one keeps with the color scheme of black and red with the same logo.  As you can see by the picture, it is not made with some cheap plastic.  Likewise, it is attached to your luggage with a real buckle.  Quality.

Magnet:

magnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like magnets.  I like Duran Duran magnets.  I have the magnet from the previous package up.  I also have a magnet I got from going to a Live from London screening in 2005 and the little magnets of the guys from the Astronaut tour.  This one isn’t huge, but decent sized to hold up comics and pictures.

Padfolio:

padfolio

For those not familiar with these, they can hold small notepads, a pen, and other papers and/or business cards.  I use the other one from the AYNIN era package in meetings.  Thus, I looked forward to having another one to use for a different purpose.  This one, like the previous one, does not disappoint.  Again, it has the cool new logo.

Executive Pen:

pen

This pen looks far cooler than the usual pens I use!  I go for cheap, at work, because they typically get used by a student only never to be returned!  The look of the black at the bottom and grey at the top with the logo makes it look sharp!  It has a smooth finish when using it and fits in well in the pad folio.  I thought this was a nice touch!

Welcome Letter:

Welcome letter

In previous packages, there was a letter included.  I was amused that this one was addressed to, “Friend of Duran Duran”.  This kind of thing is fine as long as people are aware that it is just a nice copy and not an original letter.

Overall:

I thought this was a really nice package.  They included a lot of items and loved how well they all went together, in terms of the color scheme and the new logo.  Money well-spent.

-A

 

Ain’t always black and white…who cares anyway?

This is one of those days where I’m having difficulty settling on a specific topic. There are a few things swirling in my head. Seeds of an idea mostly, and I’m just not quite sure where those seeds will end up…or begin their journey.

The one sort of “umbrella” topic, so to speak – is that of opinion. I think it’s the one thing that is never short in supply within the Duran Duran fan “community”. (Not just the paid one, but rather the one that all of us as fans belong.) We all have big, passionate opinions about this band, and I think that to some degree – myself certainly included – we all have trouble accepting the fact that others probably have a completely different opinion from our own! I’ll admit it, sometimes I wander around online, completely mystified as to how others can see things so incredibly differently. I desperately try to see the other side, to remain open-minded, but a lot of times, it’s really tough. Sometimes the best I can do is absolutely nothing (and sometimes I even fail at that!!). I fight the urge to speak out, to type in a radical response or to cry out on Twitter…and the best part is that it’s all for the love of a band.

We’re all insane, aren’t we?

Just last week a new group popped up on Facebook, commemorating that DDM has now been around for ten years. At first, I really had to sit down and count the years.  I thought for sure they were mistaken. I joined DDM as quickly as it was announced, but I never really got involved on the boards. They were too busy, too populated, and I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t feel comfortable and I had a difficult time “meeting” people. So I steered clear. Others though, they loved the place and I certainly don’t blame them. We all find our “home” online in one fashion or another. It wasn’t very long before I started hearing of drama (or Durama as it might be affectionately named), and once in a while my own board would hear full stories of the in-fighting on DDM. We would sit back and be amused and sometimes we would even come to our own conclusions over whatever topic was being argued. (Yes, we were probably Monday Morning Quarterbacking. I can’t apologize. So be it.) In any case, the boards at DDM soon came to be known for drama…or for people having passionate opinions about this band and whatever else came along. When the Facebook group came up in my News Feed, I won’t lie – the very first thing I did was message Amanda with the link and ask “I wonder how long it’ll be until there’s fighting?”

I didn’t have to wait long. In fact, I think I gave it a week and it happened within the first five days.  Nice.

It doesn’t really matter what the arguing was about – some might disagree – but the larger point here is that it’s all just opinion and experiences. We each come to this table, the “Duran Duran” table, with a host of our own thoughts, opinions, expectations and experiences. I’m right there with the rest of you. I have my own opinions about the band, what I expect from them, what I’m willing to put up with, and what I think should be deal breakers. Some people expect them to treat everyone kindly all the time. Some expect them to simply play the shows for which they’ve contracted themselves to play (novel concept really), others believe that there should never be any expectations at all, and still others believe that yes, the band is perfect as is and might be appalled at any suggestion otherwise. Regardless, each of us feels passionately about our opinion. We are fans, and for the most part we’re probably not just casual fans. We are fans that have plenty invested here – not just monetarily, but certainly emotionally as well. We feel passionately about this band. So, when we come together to discuss something that one or more of us feel passionately about, fireworks can and usually do, happen.

What is important to remember, and I am just as much guilty of this as anyone else, is that none of us are necessarily wrong. For example, I have no doubt that there are people out there that have had wonderful interactions with the band every single time they’ve seen them. I wholeheartedly believe anyone who says that to me, and I also believe it has nothing to do with size, shape or whatever else is being mentioned. On the other hand, I have zero doubts that there are people out there who have had less-than-wonderful moments with them as well.  I’ve seen some of this with my own eyes – so yes, I know it to also be true. I also believe that those moments, positive or negative, shape how we feel about the band on a personal level. It is absolutely possible to love the music and not necessarily feel great about the people who perform it. Those feelings do not necessarily determine your fandom, although some may disagree. I just know plenty of fans, good fans, who go to the shows, love the music, and leave the rest to others…and that’s OK.

I remember back to the Unstaged show at the Mayan Theater here in Los Angeles. I thought it was an outstanding show. I had a great time, I had some interaction with my favorite up there on stage…and I came out of that show happy to be a fan. I felt it was among their better shows. I came home, mentioned how I felt online, only to be told by several people that the show was crap. I was completely appalled and furious that people could possibly feel that way about the show I’d raved about. Perception is everything. I had a great time that night and while I’d like to believe I’m really unbiased (hardly!), I am not. Other people might have been in the back or they were at home, hearing something much different than I heard in front of the band. Maybe those folks had gone to better shows in the past. Maybe I was commenting more on my interaction with the band than I was the quality of the show. Who knows? I just know that none of us were really wrong to feel the way we did even though at the time I felt they were fighting words. Perception is everything, and like I said – I’m just as much at fault as anyone else in this area.

So I keep trying. I keep reminding myself that my experiences are only my own, and that my perception is just that – MY perception. It might not be 100% correct.  It takes all of us to make up this fandom, and that alone is something to truly awe. It’s “just” a band, and yet there is so much passion. That passion connects us all. Keep that in mind while you’re wielding those words, ready to strike.

One thing I do know for certain is that fans want to be able to have a safe arena to discuss these things. They want to feel as though their opinion counts, and that even if they come to the table with completely different experiences, from different areas of the world – that their words, their thoughts, and their feelings will not only be tolerated, but will be respected.  That’s really important. I don’t always agree with everything people comment back here on the blog, but I strive to remain respectful (and sometimes I fail miserably). It isn’t always easy, but the payoff is worth the effort – especially when people come to Amanda and I and urge us to keep going and to possibly consider starting a message board and/or a central hub for fans.

That last part is a tall order, but one I’m kicking around in my head.

-R

Duran Duran Music: Gold Package

Since we are on a holiday theme the last couple of days, I have to share that it has felt a lot like Christmas at my home.  It isn’t because I have a tree up.  While I have a little tree, I hardly ever put it up since it is a lot of work and I end up either at my parents’ or at my sister’s for the big day.  So, if it isn’t because of a tree, could it be that I have been baking cookies or wrapping presents?  Sadly, no.  While I have a table full of gifts for others that are desperately in need of wrapping, it hasn’t happened yet.  I haven’t had any time for wrapping or baking as I have been working and getting some homemade gifts ready to go.  What’s the deal, then?  The deal is that I got my merchandise from renewing on DuranDuranMusic, Duran’s official fan club, with the “gold” package.  For those of you not aware of what the “gold” package entails, here’s how the website describes it:  “A terrific new GOLD level VIP member package is NOW HERE! The Gold package includes all the great perks of membership such as pre-sale access, contesting, Katy’s Kafes, Q&As and more – as well as:

– An exclusive NEW T-shirt for the fan community
A black faux leather “UltraHyde” padfolio with the embossed Duran logo
– AYNIN video still fridge magnet
– 22 oz. water bottle with “D” and “Duran Duran” logos
– Custom Duran shaped USB device with an exclusive video, behind-the-scenes portraits and live concert shots!
– A copy of the Hyde Park setlist with reproduction signatures from the band (not shown in photo)
– Personalized membership card for 2012/2013
– Welcome letter from the band” 
(http://duranduranmusic.com/ )  Since I became a member in October almost 10 years ago, I have always renewed in the fall and this year was no different.  I renewed with the gold package.  The reason was simple:  I like the stuff.  Yes, I kept the membership, in general, for the presale access but went for gold for the merch.  It is ridiculous the amount of Duran stuff I have.  Ridiculous.  Anyway, two months later, my package finally arrives.  Before you say anything, I completely agree with you.  Two months is about a month TOO late.  What the heck took them that long?!  Now, I could sit here and be frustrated about the lack of timeliness or I can take a long look at what I actually got.  I choose the latter.  T-Shirt:The very first thing that strikes me about the shirt is how dang soft it is.  Seriously soft.  This is so different than most concert t-shirts.  Most concert t-shirts are rougher, more scratchy.  This, on the other hand, feels so nice to the touch.  When I looked at the material, it seems to have more rayon than most t-shirts.  So, I admit, I’m already in love.  The second thing I notice is the color.  It isn’t a black.  It is a dark grey/black.  I love that it isn’t super common.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love black t-shirts as it is just easy to be able to grab a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans and go.  There is no thinking involved.  Yet, this has that same characteristic without being so boring.  My falling in love at first sight is growing more serious.  Now, it’s time to look at the picture.  The image is below here. 

   Obviously, it is like all of the other Diamond in the Mind images, which is okay.  I like that the crowd, the audience, is obvious but a little more vague.  The lighter grey is nice.  The big pink D is a plus as is the Duran Duran in the corner.  Now, it took a few minutes for me to realize that the web address was listed on the very bottom, but it is.  This is fine.  That is better than taking up a lot of room.  So, while the image isn’t the best, most exciting thing ever, it is nice and the rest of the qualities of the shirt pull it up to a solid 4 out of 5 cocktails, especially in comparison to the gold t-shirt of last year.    Padfolio:I admit that I didn’t really know what they meant by a padfolio.  This shows, of course, that I am not in a traditional, work-in-an-office kind of job.  I don’t typically deal with padfolios.  I deal with notebooks, loose leaf paper, and folders.  I deal with basic school supplies.  Thus, I didn’t know what to expect with this item.  I knew that I was excited that it was faux leather, though.  As a vegetarian, I appreciate that.  I’m sure there were others, though, who wished for the real thing.  It is the size to hold a small legal pad.  There is also a space for a pen or pencil and a few slots to put other papers or business cards.  I feel like I can’t adequately judge this because I don’t have anything like this.  Does it have enough slots?  Is it big enough?  I don’t know.  Personally, I kind of like that it isn’t very big.  It is easier to carry.  Am I using it?  Sure am!  I am using it for Convention planning!!!  Woohoo!!  Thus, I fully expect it to get quite a workout in 2013 as the committee’s ideas get planned!  Then, I’ll be curious to see how user friendly it seems and whether or not it holds up.  Until then, I will refrain from giving a cocktail rating.  Here is a picture, though. 

MagnetHow can this be a bad thing and how could it turn out badly?  Magnets cannot be that hard to make with decent quality, right?  I wasn’t expecting a ton with this, either, simply because I expected a basic magnet, nothing super fancy.  Now, of course, they could have made something fancy.  After all, they did magnets during the Astronaut tour.  Those magnets, which I’m sure many of you have were separate magnets for each guy and they were cut in their shape and slightly puffy.  Those rocked!!!  I love that I could move them around!  This magnet isn’t cool like that but it is fine.  The picture, which you can see below is the classic 4-some shot from the All You Need Is Now video.  I don’t mind it, but I wish that John was looking straight head.  Everyone looks good, though.  I am a little surprised that they chose that image and not something from ADITM, but it’s fine.  It will do the trick and hold up pictures, postcards and cartoons that I cut out from the paper.  It is a fine, 3 cocktail rating.  

   Water Bottle: This isn’t the first Duran water bottle I have gotten.  I have one from going VIP to a concert in the spring of 2005.  I haven’t used this water bottle yet but I don’t use the 2005 one much.  I’m not sure why that is.  I just have other water bottles I have received since then that took over.  How does this one seem, especially in comparison to the other one?  The 2005 was all white and had the lettering of the time.  That’s it.  Obviously, this one is similar, but this one has writing on both sides, which is cool.  It seems a little more professional that way.  I do have one compliant, though.  When you open up the top, it is just WIDE open.  The opening is too open.  Do you know what is going to happen the first time I actually use it?  Yeah, I’m totally going to spill all over myself, especially if I use it in the car, which is common for me to do.  Why couldn’t they have a different top or opening?!  It totally takes away from the positives like the quality of the font and the dark clear color of the bottle, in general.  It ends up with a 2.5 cocktail rating. 

USB Device:This is basically a flash drive, which is cool enough.  There isn’t much on it, which is definitely a big thumbs down.  Why not include a lot more than like 8 photos from the Olympics?!  You can’t tell me that Duran doesn’t have any more than that.  I’m sure they have TONS of photos.  I get why they want to focus on that particular show since it was such a big deal this year and also relates to the setlist they included.  Likewise, there was only one video and that was Wild Boys from the same show.  Again, why didn’t they include more?!  This just feels like they are short-changing us on this one since they could include SO much more.  Now, the pictures and video are quality and I loved looking at them.  I was just disappointed with the quantity.  Now, the flash drive shape is cute as you can see below.  I was a little surprised that it wasn’t just the D that they have been using lately.  The double D feels older to me than AYNIN’s D.  Its still cool looking.  Overall rating:  2.5 cocktails. 

Setlist, Welcome Letter and Member Card:As I stated above, they included a signed copy of the setlist from the Olympics.  I should note that the signatures are photocopies as well.  Now, it is on nice paper but I can’t say that I care that much about it.  I wasn’t there.  While I know that the show was a big deal for the band, it doesn’t mean as much to me as a show I had been at.  I also have to say that I don’t need copies of their signatures.  I have other things signed that aren’t copies.  Likewise, I think the welcome letter is exactly like last year’s.  Instead of really welcoming you to the fan club, I get a listing of the member benefits.  Yeah, I get them already.  I would prefer a real welcome–a real thank you for joining and how this is the place that fans are welcomed and appreciated.  Of course, we all know that isn’t really much of the case anymore, if ever, so they can’t really say that, but they can definitely make it less advertisement and more of an actual welcome.  The membership card is basically the same as last year.  I did notice that they are no longer including a year.  My ID# has also changed, which I wonder about.  Last time, it was a four digit number.  Now, it is a 7 digit number.  I wonder why.  The part of the card that always amuses me, though, is the statement at the bottom about how it is property of Duran Duran and that they reserve the right to change the program at any time.  Yeah, we know.  Lame.  These little extras are a 1.5 cocktails.  They definitely didn’t add to the package, at least for me.  Overall:There is clearly some evidence that time was taken to make the “gold” package quality.  The t-shirt alone shows that.  Likewise, most of the other products have some care taken to them, some detail that was thought about and followed.  I wish that they just included more on the flash drive and did something different with those extras like the setlist and welcome letter.  Trust me, a real welcome letter could go a long way, at least in my world.  Am I glad that I purchased it?  I think I am.  Again, I’m a sucker for the stuff.  I am.  Plus, you never know when the band is going to decide to do some shows.  I need to have the chance to have the presale access.  It is an insurance policy for me.  🙂  -A 

Canceled Shows, Refunds, VIP Packages and Artist Arena

Canceled shows bring out a lot of emotions in fans, in Duranies. For those fans, like myself, who held tickets to one of the shows that didn’t happen, the first thoughts were emotions, including shock, disappointment, anger at the world, and more. Those emotions are what were seen throughout Duranland as people attempted to come to grips with their own personal change of plans or with what this meant to the band and the All You Need is Now era. I doubt that anyone thought about the actual details of those canceled shows much in the first day or so. Perhaps, the fans who held tickets pondered if the shows would be rescheduled and if so, when. Even so, there probably wasn’t a ton of thought given to the steps that would need to be taken in order to get one or five shows rescheduled. At least, there wasn’t for me beyond the obvious ones.

Now, of course, the emotions have lessened and people are thinking more about the details associated with the canceled shows. For those of us with tickets, this reality is all about the refund once we knew that the shows wouldn’t be rescheduled. I have been through this part a bit before when the shows were canceled in the UK. That situation was complicated as two of us wanted to go back for the rescheduled shows and two of us didn’t out of the four who originally planned on going. Yet, in some cases, the tickets and the VIP packages to go with them were in people’s names who weren’t going back. Then, of course, the shows were rescheduled in a different order, which added a whole other layer of complication. In fact, it felt like weeks that we were dealing with emails back and forth from Artist Arena. While in that situation, things worked out, there was stress involved and imperfect solutions that took far too long to be settled. Thus, when the statement came out about how these shows weren’t going to be rescheduled, I became concerned.

Before the news regarding these canceled shows was even an hour old, I had typed an email to customer service at Artist Arena. Since I did not think it was a smooth process, I was determined to be assertive about my demand for an immediate refund. The first respond I got back was strange. The email said that they had to wait for confirmation that the plan was to give refunds. Huh? Why wouldn’t they know already? If the band had it posted on dd.com, wouldn’t their ticket agent know this? It did not give me hope but I did realize that the responders at customer service would not be those dealing with the band’s management. I responded again and the next day received an email saying that the matter had been closed. Great. What was done?! Who knew?! I certainly didn’t. Then, later that day or the next, I got another email indicating that a refund would take place. I actually checked this morning and, indeed, I did receive a refund. Good for them even if there communication was a little strange. I’m glad that it was this smooth and not complicated at all! That’s how it should be.

Of course, I have come to realize that my situation for Chicago was easy. I didn’t VIP there because there was no chance of doing so. Thus, I didn’t have to worry about the merchandise and how much money I would be refunded. Other people, for other shows, weren’t in the same boat, though, as they had done VIP. Rhonda and I did VIP for 3 shows on this leg and we had received our merch for all 3 at the same time before the shows happened. It sounded like most people got their merch around this same time, no matter when their shows took place. For example, the merch was received on August 15th. Some people had VIP shows that took place a week before that and others weren’t going to have their VIP shows for another couple of weeks. So, if everyone had received their merchandise, what was going to happen with the refunds? Would the fans have to return their stuff to get a full refund? Would Artist Arena only refund the ticket cost so that people could and would keep the merch?

Apparently, there was some confusion about this very question. It sounds like, initially, those holding VIP tickets were told that they would not be receiving refunds for the merchandise. Then, another message was sent out:

A Message from the DD VIP Fan Community:

We sincerely apologize for the cancellation of the last shows of the AYNIN tour. Though Enhanced Bundle purchasers originally received an email that they would NOT be refunded for the merchandise portion of the bundle the band, Artist Arena, Magus Entertainment and World Wide Fan Clubs have decided to refund everyone IN FULL and you may keep the merchandise as a gift.

Obviously, those people were then refunded in full and were able to keep the merchandise.

Over the course of this blog, we have, at times, criticized the fan club, Artist Arena, the ticketing process, etc. Yet, I have to admit that this seems like a generous thing to do. Clearly, they could have just refunded the tickets but didn’t. I’m sure that it cost them money but it will help with the fans in the long run. Fans will remember that this process of refunds was simple and quick. They will also remember that they got something, even if they didn’t get the shows.

Maybe, it is just me, but I’m glad that there wasn’t salt poured on a wound. I’m glad that something nice was done for the fans. 🙂

DDM: Fan Club? Fan Community? Both?

I originally planned on posting a guest blog today as I’m in Boston visiting my brother but after reading everyone’s comments to the blog yesterday about DDM, I felt like I had more to say (Don’t I always?!) Anyway, one thing I truly love about doing this blog with Rhonda is that I have always pushed to think. I am forced to think when I write and then I think when I read your comments (here, Facebook and twitter). Yesterday’s blog post focused on one aspect of DDM: Member extras. It wasn’t about the presales and it wasn’t about message boards. Nonetheless, people’s responses to the blog did bring up the boards and the presales. One other large aspect that seemed to come up is cost, which in turn brought out the idea of exclusivity vs. inclusivity. This blog then asks more fundamental questions surrounding DDM and the “official fan community.”

As we all know DDM is Duran Duran’s official fan community and it costs money to join. Before we dive into the various aspects of what DDM has to offer, let me ask this. Should fan communities cost money? Obviously, in this case, the fan community costs money with the idea being that it offers things to the members. This idea isn’t new. Lots of things work like this and I can think of many examples. People buy gym memberships in order to use the various equipment, take classes offered there, use the pool, etc. You pay for these opportunities. This is designed in the same way. It is done with the idea being that if you offer the right things and things that cannot be provided anywhere else, people will pay and join. Should fandoms work that way, though? Why or why not? I’m sure from a band’s point of view it is a way to get money without the hard work of recording an album or playing shows. I can understand that. I can also understand the fan’s desire to join a fan club or community. Certainly, I get that. I want to admit that I’m a fan. Isn’t that how the first fan clubs got started, as a way to show one is a fan and to find other fans? Yet, as soon as money is involved, it could start to exclude people. It may no longer being about being a fan and now becomes a fan with money. Yes, I obviously know that DDM isn’t a fortune. Yet, it does cost and that extra might be too much for some.

The next question that comes to mind is what should a fan community do. The more and more I think about the fact that DDM calls itself “Duran Duran: The Fan Community”, the more and more I question their use of the word, community, to describe it. Is it a community or a club? What’s the difference between the two? To me, a community involves people interacting with each other. A club means that people join something and may or may not interact. Clearly, DDM tries to do both. They push the community by having things like the message boards and they push the club by offering presale tickets and other items like Katy Kafes. Is this what DDM should be doing? Should they be trying to do both the community and the club? If they should be a club only, what features should they offer? What should they offer if they focus on being a community? Perhaps, part of the problem is that they don’t have a focus. There is no real game plan.

A couple of things that came up yesterday in the various comments is that DDM is no longer, if ever, really able to come up with a community, which is ironic since they is what it is entitled. People want a place to get the news about Duran and they definitely don’t feel like they get that there. Then, if it is going to be a community, a place for fans to come together and interact, how should that be done? I’m happy that a number of you feel like this place is a better place for community. People mentioned that they are able to freely speak their minds without worry. Yes, people may disagree but it is done respectfully. Rhonda and I would like to think that we have helped to create this open and respectful environment. It should also include EVERYONE, no matter where you live, what your favorite Duran stuff is or isn’t, no matter how many shows you have been to, no matter how many times you have met or haven’t met the band, etc. This leads back to the first question. Should being part of a fan community have anything to do with money? Should having the ability to talk to other fans be based on a fee? What about those VIP tickets? People complain that there are not guaranteed meet and greets with VIP tickets, which is a valid point, but what about the fact that not everyone can afford those? Does the way DDM runs create an exclusivity between fans with the money factor? Obviously, the idea of joining a fan club is a way to differentiate oneself from a non-fan. Does DDM do this or just keep us, fans, separated from each other?

I don’t have answers to these questions but I do think they are fundamental questions. What should Duran’s fan club be like? Is that the same as the fan community? Should it be? How should it be done to include everyone? What do you all think? -A

Should We Bother with DDM?

The other day, I went to DDM, or DuranDuranMusic.  This is not a typical action on my part but I went over to see if there was anything interesting on the boards.  While I was there, I checked the home page, which includes the news.  I found myself not only sadden by what the boards have become but annoyed by the overall site.

One does not need to be a paying member to see what is on the homepage, but, of course, you do need to in order to get all of the details on the articles/information posted, to get to the member exclusives, etc.  Once I click on the log in button, the site immediately takes me to the presale information page.  On one hand, this can be extremely helpful during presale “season” so that I don’t have to waste time getting to the presale page.  When there are not presales, why would I even go there?  Why would anyone?  It doesn’t make sense.  Wouldn’t you want to offer the latest and greatest offering by sending us back to the homepage where we started?  Maybe I’m doing it wrong.  I don’t know. 

Typically, then, I go back to the homepage myself in order to read what is new.  Here’s where my annoyance kicks into full gear.  It is hard to even see what is news or what was new to me as the news isn’t listed in chronological order.  Clearly, some “news” on DDM’s home page is deemed more important than others.  While I get that, the presale information about presales that have already taken place seems no longer then most important.  DD.com is able to give the latest information first except for in VERY rare circumstances, which I like.  Why can’t DDM?  Clearly, it isn’t that no one is updating this page at all as there is current information listed.  So, why not put the news in order by most recent?  Then, if some other bit of info needs to be at the top, put it at the top and indicate that.  Heck, this is what message boards do by having a specific symbol that shows that topic to be “stuck” to the top.  The problem here might be user error because I just can’t see what is new.  For example, I looked the other day and discovered that there was a new Katy Kafe there and had been there for over a week.  How come I didn’t see it the last time I was at the site?  Probably because the blurb about it was hidden on the third column on the news page.  Huh?  It just doesn’t make good sense to me. 

Of course, I could have found out that there was a new Katy Kafe if there was some advertising done.  Why can’t someone/anyone put a tweet out there that a new Kafe has been posted for paying members?  Why can’t a facebook status indicate that?  Yes, I realize that not every fan is a paying member but why not alert those who are?  Why not give us a reason to actually go there?  At the same time, it might encourage non-members to join.  Why wouldn’t Duran headquarters want that?  I don’t get it.  Yes, I realize that most of the members now are there simply for the presales.  If it is that, then why put an exclusives on there at all?  Why bother?  It seems to me that the site would be better as either simply a presale location OR a real fan site.  If they are going to include cool extras (which obviously can be debated), why not do it right and TELL people about what is there.  Rhonda and I post our blog topics elsewhere everyday, why can’t DDHQ do the same when something new is there? 

Now, I’m sure that many (most?  all?) of you reading this are thinking to yourself–“Why does Amanda bother?  The rest of us left or never paid for DDM to begin with.”  The response to this is simple.  Yes, I could just stop going over to the site.  Yes, I could just stop paying.  I could.  I absolutely could.  Yet, I do enjoy the Katy Kafes, including this month’s with Simon rambling about tennis, the state of the world and more.  I like seeing exclusive pictures and videos.  I think that is what a fan club should be doing.  Of course, I would like to see much more focus on the fan community aspect, but I have gotten past that.  Hence, why Rhonda and I have tried to fill in some of those gaps by starting conversation here, on twitter and on facebook.  We are all trying to bring people together in meetups and other events in the future.  Therefore, if a fan club isn’t going to try to bring the fans together, they should be offering us something for our money, in my opinion.  I think they could do this in a way that is more efficient and more effective for both them and us. 

I’m sure that 95% of comments will be about how I’m sucker to continue over there.  Logically, I’m sure that’s right.  Emotionally, I am not ready to give up on something that has such potential.  Thus, I tried to offer a couple of means to improve it.  It may not bring people back or restore people’s faith in it but it could be some steps in the right direction.  Right?  Maybe, it would just annoy me less.

-A