Category Archives: direct to fan

Can You Deal With It?

Shout out to DDHQ for starting my Monday off right with a cute new fortune-telling game, which ever-so-gently hint at tour dates being announced soon. The game also serves as the new front page to duranduran.com.

I can remember making these folded origami-like masterpieces back in junior high. We’d write our favorite colors, numbers, maybe favorite bands or other “favorites” on the folded sections (the band did numbers and the band members themselves), and in the middle we’d write the names of the boys we liked – which would be the “fortune” of whom we were going to marry. For the record, I am 100%  certain my fortune lied, because I am definitely not married to Roger Taylor.

On the band’s version, the game ends with a fortune that has something to do with live shows, or cute song lyrics. For example, I picked “Roger”, “5”, and then “7”, and my fortune was “Your friends will be here when you need them most“.  I tried it again (to be fair, this is the fourth time I’ve done it today….research, you see…) using “John”, “3” and “5” and ended up with “You will be at a beautiful event in the near future“.  Maybe a live show…I hope! Are tour dates finally imminent?!?

I have to applaud DDHQ on this one. Not only does it take me back to junior high, which for me were the days when I discovered Duran Duran and spent my spare time reading any pop magazine with the band prominently featured on the cover, but it also woke up the Duraniverse a little with the possibility of tour dates being announced. Sometime. Hopefully soonish.

THIS IS A PROPER TEASE!! This is how you get fans talking and sharing, and this is how to stir excitement! So many of us have felt that their website does very, very little for fans. Not interactive, not terribly informative in a unique way…and even a bit cumbersome (I am thinking specifically about the discography section when I use the word “cumbersome”). This is Duran Duran. This band should be all about the visual. All about the “interactive experience”. What happened?!? Their website should be the most kick-ass thing I’ve ever seen online, and yet it has always fallen a bit flat. It gets the news out there, but there’s very little flash and even less interactivity. This is a great start.

I think it also has to be said that with this #DDFortuneTeller game, they know their demographic. They know to whom they are playing, so to speak. Give a kid in the 18-30 year old bracket this game and they would look at you quizzically. Paper? What in the hell is that for?!?  The “good news” is that while it looks like paper….I suppose it’s also an app…so to speak. You can take the technology out of the band, but you can’t take the band out of the technology.

Or is it the other way around?

I’m just not sure…ANYWAY…

I think this is a huge, huge win for the band, and subsequently for fans. Say what you will about Durantime, as well as promotion and how it may be directed at future audiences as opposed to long time fans, the band wins with this one, and I love it. Little things have potential go a LONG way.

Naturally, this stirred a little discussion online, as I mentioned the game on Facebook. A friend reminded me that the band was working with Crowdsurge and wondered if this was the start of some new and innovational engagement with fans. Long time fans will remember the days of buying tickets directly through DDM, then having the platform moved to Artist Arena, so we’ve certainly seen our share of ticket engines. Crowdsurge offers fan engagement and seamless built-in platforms for the artist so they are able to monitor and manage their own sales with no extra work. They also promise that the cost is shouldered by the attendees (meaning the cost of working with Crowdsurge is built into our ticket price), but then they also say it can be up to 71% cheaper for the fans. I’m still struggling with Common Core Math a bit…so I’m not exactly sure how they’re figuring, but until I myself go through a ticket-sales cycle and understand Crowdsurge, I’m not going say they’re fudging numbers. Crowdsurge is a big proponent of auctions because they tend to up the sales price of tickets by about 185% on average. Quite frankly, that’s fine with me as long as I am not paying. They also really love the idea of ticketing “experience” bundles (think VIP). I sincerely hope those bundles do a good job of delivering what they promise. I do have a nagging concern that there will be little opportunity for similar “experiences” for fans who are on a budget. Unfortunately though, that is often the case.

I’d like to see contests for “The Common Fan”. You know, people like me who cannot pay $5,000 in a special auction bundle, regardless of the endless amount of joy that is promised for that price. I’ve participated in a few raffles/contests through Tunespeak, which is a really cool fan-engaging platform for contests. It’s tagline? “Win for being a fan”. Basically, bands/artists set up contests through them, and you have to share the contest, tweet about it, watch predetermined videos, listen to music that the band sets up as “tasks”, etc…and you earn entries for each item that is completed. The goal of course is to rack up as many entries as possible. I would be hard pressed to beat many of the Duranies I know out there…but I like the idea that it’s based on experiencing whatever the band wants us to listen to or watch, because for Duran Duran I think that would be helpful in the long run.

So…. if I promise to go out grocery shopping and not check my phone at all, can we get some future show dates…like today?!?

-R

Isn’t it time for the music industry to figure it out?

I’m about to write a blog that is not likely to win me friends in high places. Then again, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.

Yesterday, Marvel did something that ultimately endeared them to movie fans, particularly superhero movie fans, but movie fans nonetheless, worldwide. They announced a series of movies, nine of them actually, to a house packed with media and fans alike.  Marvel had sent invites, super “secret” invites to a mysterious announcement type event, and then turned around and invited fans in the Los Angeles area as well, making sure that audience was completely filled.

Those that couldn’t make it weren’t left in the cold. Marvel live blogged the event, and encouraged those in attendance to tweet using a specific hashtag. That way, as the announcement of the next nine movies that Marvel is working to release was made and events unfolded, fans around the world were included in on that excitement. Marvel had set up an entire team of social media to cover the event, knowing that in order for this announcement to go over huge – which is exactly what they wanted and needed – they had to win fans over and create that same sense of excitement whether or not you were in the venue, reading about it on Twitter, or even seeing news of the event in the following days. You see, fans run the show. They are who buy the movie tickets and the merchandise, and they are who shout from the rooftops about the things they are excited enough about to share. They just need to know what to yell.  Marvel gave them exactly that, and more.

Now, this event wasn’t just a static announcement of movies, dates, celebrities and so forth. It was a celebration. Actors were invited out onto the stage, logos were shown, dates were announced, and immediately following the event – new accounts for individual  superheroes hit Twitter.

My friends, THIS IS PR IN THE YEAR 2014. This is using social media the way it is intended to be used, and this is what it means to utilize the power of fans. Getting the power of fans behind a project matters FAR more than the old, tired retweeting what another celebrity said in passing about a 20-year old album or video. Fans post and tweet about what they like. Fans TALK about what they like – and that reach can be huge if given the encouraging environment in which it can grow.

On the other hand, Warner Bros. announced a series of eleven new superhero movies earlier in the month. At a investors conference. No fans were in the seats cheering. Nothing was mentioned about it on social media until a press release made it’s way across the web. The news was basically bookended with announcements of three new Harry Potter spinoffs and another Lego movie. In order to see the movies they were announcing, you had to scour the article…which wasn’t necessarily effective PR.

Don’t get me wrong, the news of more Harry Potter is exciting. If you’re into Legos then I’m sure that news is certainly welcome as well, and the rest of the movies mentioned will definitely interest people as well. I have no doubt that fans will go to see the movies once they appear in theaters….but what I am more interested in at this point is the LEGS that the news had (or lack thereof). Is it getting chatted up in the same way the Marvel announcement from yesterday seems? I’d argue no. Absolutely not. Let’s face it, Marvel knew that they needed to grab the attention (and loyalty) from fans. This isn’t about just sending out a boring PR announcement, this is about shaking the trees and getting Marvel’s voice heard above all else. It’s about using the power and passion that fans have, harnessing it and making it do a good portion of the work. It’s about investing a little to get a huge return…one that goes on beyond the announcement event itself, and it works. I highly doubt a single person who came out of that Marvel announcement didn’t at least send a single tweet, photo, make a Facebook announcement, or comment to someone about the event itself. I know I saw hashtags about it all over Twitter yesterday, and more on Facebook today.

From my point of view, there is much to be learned from this single example. You can release an album that you’ve been working on for a couple of years with a bunch of promo appearances and let the media do the work – because well, isn’t that the job of the media?! A few fans will show up at these appearances, they’ll tweet here and there and hopefully, radio will kick in and maybe something will get some play.  The more interesting alternative; however, is to do something completely out of the box, get fans to the event and excite them so much so that they turn around and shout that news out to as wide an audience as possible, and so on.  Something like that, has real legs. Talking about the event will go on for many days AFTER the event, and that’s what you want as a PR person. Go ahead, do the promo appearances. Use the media….but don’t forget the biggest built-in publicity tool you’ve got. The FANS. Movies and TV are doing it with great success, using announcements similar to Marvel, events like comic-con and others…isn’t it time the music industry caught up?

-R

 

 

I Know You’re Watching Me Every Minute of the Day

I haven’t blogged about Direct to Fan marketing lately since the band is still in the studio (quiet as can be)…but I ran across something today in my mail that intrigued me enough to throw it out here on the blog, just in case anyone is reading!

We all watch videos on YouTube. In this day and age, I don’t really see how one can escape YouTube – we go there to listen to songs, see clips from various shows and TV, and yes, even the occasional music video.  There’s a whole royalty payout system that goes on (or doesn’t go on, depending upon who you talk to), over there that I don’t really understand the full mechanics of – but in any case, it prompted a few folks to come up with a platform they call Audiam.  Ultimately, Audiam seeks to help artists receive royalties from YouTube, as well as introduce new methods for exposure.

One such way they want to increase exposure for bands is by having the band encourage fans to take their music and create their own videos.  The way it works is the band chooses one song and tells their fan base to make videos for it.  That seems, well…like something that has been done before, but what’s different is that this time, the fan gets paid.  *blinks* Wait a second, why on earth would a band want their fans to get paid for using THEIR music?!?  Good question.

Here’s the scenario: Duran Duran comes out with their new album. They want videos for their music – so maybe the band decides to do a video of one of their songs,  but there’s another song that they’d really love to use in order to gain more exposure.  So they announce that they want fans to create their own video to the song.  Granted, fans are going to get paid for these videos being viewed, but for the band – it’s about exposure.  Maybe 10 fans who wouldn’t normally use Duran’s music decide that they want to create a video.  They each upload that video and it gets viewed 1000 times. That’s 10,000 views the band didn’t have before, and if the band does it right, they can even have the fans direct viewers back to the original piece of music or another video of theirs from the fan-made video.  It’s about numbers, and it’s very similar to doing an ad-campaign.  For free.

The band has done a similar thing before when they did the Genero video contest for AYNIN, and TV Mania even allowed fans to create franchises and then submit videos and music in a contest.  (Hey, did that contest ever end?!) This is simply another version of the same sort of promotion, once again creating a sort of “We’re all in this together” feel.

While I’m not at all sure of the economic viability in such a platform – for the artists or the company itself, it does seem that more and more these days, fans are being put in the drivers seat as opposed to being the passive passenger…or purchaser.   There are still any number of annoying obstacles in the way for bands these days, as they stumble to figure out how to use many of these new platforms to benefit their bottom line and increase their exposure.  I don’t envy those who make their living trying to figure out the answer to getting paid (from streaming, YouTube, etc.) or learning how to maximize the possible benefits to social networking.  I see enough on SEO as it is – being told that we need links everywhere and so forth.  My personal opinion is that while all of this is fine and good, the personal connection has to be there. People are far more willing to go out of their way for people/bands they like and who they feel respect them in return. The ONE thing I learned in sales was that people buy from people that they know, like and trust. It is just not possible for one band to know every single one of their fans…but they can certainly put themselves out there to try once in a while.  It’s a good system for the people who are smart enough and sincere enough to put the time in to make it work.

-R

Duran Duran playing…in your living room??

Just how much would you pay to have Duran Duran play in your living room?? Would you pay for some real exclusivity?

This does not mean paying for a VIP ticket, sitting in the first 5 rows and getting some merchandise that may or may not have the letters VIP stuck on it somewhere. Exclusivity mean paying a fair amount of money for a private show in your living room for you and twenty of your closest buddies (Daily Duranie should be on that short list, yes?), or perhaps paying for a special signed version of a CD or vinyl. Does this have appeal to fans?

I can hear some of you already, “If I had that kind of money, yes, I’d pay!” or perhaps a few of you are saying “They’d NEVER play in my living room.” I’d agree on both counts, but that’s not really my question or my point here. It’s my understanding that VIP tickets were first devised as a way to offer some exclusive experiences to those who, to be blunt, are willing and able to pay for such things. Obviously not every fan is in the same place financially, and while yes – this does tend to become a case of the haves or have nots, it’s interesting to see that so many musician blogs out there suggest such a thing on a regular basis.

The theory is based at least in part that while it takes a lot of hard work to earn millions of loyal fans, if a band is able to concentrate on a smaller but very loyal base (with some deep pockets, apparently), they can still be just as lucrative. For example: if a band had just 20 fans that were willing to pay $5,000 to have the band play in their living rooms – the argument is that they’d end up with more in the bank than a band with 90,000 casual fans who pay $1.00 to download a song. Not only would the band likely end up with more cash on hand, but they’d likely end up with more casual fans willing to spend a dollar to download a song just because they would be able to promote those very small intimate-setting shows. Before you send me mail, keep in mind that this is not MY theory or MY assertions and I don’t know if I agree or disagree at this point – I’m just explaining the idea.

I have little doubt that this sort of thing could work for bands just starting out. Amanda Palmer, a singer who is no-slouch to the social networking arena, had a Kickstarter campaign (fans agree to donate money to the singer in return for certain perks based on the amount donated – this concept is called crowdfunding) that earned her over $1 million before the campaign ended. Out of all that donated, over 35 people chose to donate $5,000 each. In exchange, Amanda will play private shows for each one of them in their living rooms.  Normally tickets to her shows hit the $20.00 mark. So exclusivity seems to sell, at least for some.

I wonder though, would the same really work for Duran Duran? On the same token, would they want to even bother? In one sense, when I read about selling exclusivity as though it were a service I think of the words “Working Smart”, because rather than casting a very wide net, the effort is far more focused. In another sense, I don’t know that Duran Duran has enough fans that could afford the price tag that the band would want to put on that exclusivity, nor do I know if the band would ever wish to promote themselves in such a manner. On one hand, this IS the band that spent a good part of the 80’s promoting themselves as having everything that the rest of us might want: the jet set lifestyle, champagne, yachts, excess in any way possible, and for a good many people – they wanted that fantasy life. On the other, this is not 1985 and the band doesn’t necessarily have the same “untouchable” vibe that they once had. It’s not quite the same fantasy in the same sense. At one time the band offered very exclusive and pricey travel packages to a few of their shows. Only one show in Chicago offered a true party (for lack of a better term) with the band. Fans were sat at tables, and each band member came around to each table to sit and chat with fans. It was the meet and greet that any fan would have dreamed for, complete with a price tag that gave many fans nightmares. Did this experience of exclusivity work for the band? Hard to say, but it’s worth noting that they’ve not offered such a complete experience since.

I just don’t know…would you pay the price to have them play in your living room???

Ultimately, as much as I like plenty of the ideas that come out of the Direct-To-Fan marketing methodology, I have to question if it could be as applicable (and successful) with bands who have been around for so long. The playing field doesn’t seem to be the same, although some of the problems are shared by all.

Although, my living room could easily accommodate the band….

-R

Another look at “super”fans and why bands want US

A couple of days ago, I visited a topic that apparently rubbed folks the wrong way – the superfan. At the time I wrote the blog, my thoughts were not on whether or not people would be offended by the term, but rather my concerns regarding a tutorial written for bands to actually follow in creating such a group of fans.  If you’d like to read that blog, or even the original blog that sparked my comments – go here.

It’s curious to me that a simple name can ignite such intense scrutiny, but I have come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the word, it’s the supposed traits that define the term that bother people. Some people choose to reject such a thing altogether, others call it laughable, and still others believe – as I – that fandom is a spectrum. Anyone who has read our blog for any length of time should know by now that at the very least – I don’t buy into the judgements of what makes a fan a fan. If you’re a fan who has never met the band but loves the music, I say fantastic. If you’re a fan that buys a CD if you like it, and goes to a show when it’s convenient, brilliant. If you are a fan who has gone to see the band every single time they’ve been at the studio and the band knows you by name – great. If you are like me and you’ve been to several shows over the years, excellent. If you’re a fan who lives somewhere that the band doesn’t make it to very often (if at all), and yet you still can say you love the band after all of these years, fabulous and more power to you. It takes all of it, all of US, to make this work.

There is little point in attempting to use this blog to define what may or may not be a Superfan (or even whether or not we think such a thing exists, or whether the term itself is silly), purely because there cannot be one set definition. That was part of my surprise in finding an entire article devoted to teaching musicians and bands how to create that type of fan. However, there are two sides to this: the fandom itself, and that of the musician. While you and I might find the idea of creating a legion of superfans (or a cult, as some have pointed out) distasteful and divisive, it is exactly what a band or musician might want. These superfans are loyal. They spend money. They aren’t typically very fickle, and they stick around for the long haul. Sound familiar? Let’s be honest: collectively we – you and I – are exactly what any band might want. Fans that stick around. Loyalty, and let’s not forget that almighty dollar. So while I was annoyed that someone felt like they needed to write an article on the subject, I suppose that at least partially I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am.

In the past few months, I’ve written a few blogs for Andy Taylor’s website – andytaylor.tv – primarily about the Direct-To-Fan model. At this point I could write entire an entire thesis on what that truly means, but I’ll spare you the reading. Ultimately what it comes down to is that the band goes directly to the fans to market their goods. In the purest of Direct-To-Fan marketing there is no middle man, as in – no label, no glossy PR, no “social media” people.  It’s the band and the fans. Naturally there are many, many versions of this model out there, and some bands use some facets of the idea and ignore others as suit their needs best. The idea itself isn’t new, but it would seem that as the idea of “indie” labels (which in my opinion is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) grows more mainstream, I hear about Direct-To-Fan marketing and all of the nuances thereof more and more. Many of the online magazines, papers and news blogs that I am subscribed are dedicated to the subject, and it’s downright shocking just how much has to be taught to the fledgling bands and musicians out there.  Things that you and I might take for granted, such as the very statement “communicate with your fans”, bands are starting to learn.

In theory, I love the ideas of Fan Empowerment and Direct-To-Fan. I like the idea that fans can give a hand up to the bands and musicians of their choice. It’s much different from the days where we’d simply sit by the television or the radio and just wait for tours and albums to be announced. I like having the chance to communicate directly with artists of my choice. I like the idea that the music is taken directly to the fans and that the success of that music has everything to do with the fans. The theory looks great on paper, but is extremely difficult to put into practice – and do so with a genuine sense of heart and soul. We’re at the highest point in a very large learning curve that is taking place industry (and world) wide. I’ve seen more than one artist succumb to the efforts that Direct-To-Fan takes, and it can be very disheartening to fans and artists alike. It would seem natural that the increased interaction with fans would carry over to sales – but that isn’t happening for very many. Until that hurdle can be realized with more certainty, these theoretical models are just that. Theories that only the very bravest and driven put into practice with success.

As a result, there’s a scent of desperation in the air, and it’s not coming from the fans this time.  The phrase “grasping at straws” comes to mind. When I read these articles about how to communicate with fans, how to turn a “like” into a sale, and how to create superfans out of casual fans, I really believe the straws are running away faster than they can be grabbed.  It’s as though the desperation to succeed has completely exhausted people of their common sense. There are twenty artists and bands that get radio play at any one time, and if a band isn’t on that exclusive list, then yes – they are desperate to figure out another method to get their music heard, and as most recognize – it’s not an easy road.

There are two sides to this story. As a fan, I find the idea of teaching a band how to get, keep and employ fans laughable. It would seem to be obvious, and by having to be taught this methodology (creating superfans) seems pretty synthetic and not the least bit genuine.  Letting the music speak for itself would seem to be far better in the long run. However, if I were an artist or in a band, I wonder if I’d be reading those same articles with the same feelings of disapproval.

-R

Twitmusic….what’s the point?

I’ve been sick, as in sick on the couch and try to sleep all day, for about 3 days now.  Not terribly long, but long enough to where I’m really all done with the nonsense and yet I am still not back up to par. It’s annoying because I have a lot to do and no energy to even start.  Regardless, I’ve still been forcing myself to blog in the morning and briefly see what’s going on in the world before I retreat to my couch, blanket and hot tea. Obviously, my attempts to keep up with the world have utterly failed – because this morning I found Twitmusic.

What in the hell is Twitmusic and why do I need it? To begin with, Duran Duran has found Twitmusic – and they found it before I did. That alone is enough to make me hang my head in shame. I checked it out though, and I’m going to be blunt: I don’t get it. It would seem to me that it’s basically just another way to share music, and it’s obviously tied into Twitter. You can sign into Twitmusic using your Twitter account, and then my educated guess is that while you’re browsing, Twitter automatically tweets what you’re checking out, becoming a “fan” of, and listening to so that way all of your followers can then go check out what you’re listening to as well. That being the only innovative tool that Twitmusic seems to have going for itself at the moment.

Sure, we all know that social networking is a machine and a band or artist needs to make the machine work for them. Twitmusic would appear to be yet another tool in that arsenal. My only comments are that Twitmusic doesn’t really seem to offer anything new or different that Facebook and Myspace can’t offer, and it’s also REALLY late to market, meaning that several other apps (including the aforementioned Facebook and Myspace) have already ‘been there, done that’. I’m not faulting Duran Duran for joining (Take your hand off of that “send mail” button right now.) – they’ve got to get the visibility where ever they can get it – I’m only faulting Twitmusic for not being new, innovative or really even all that useful.  It’s just another thing.

At some point, social networking has to stop treading water and start turning it’s wheels to move the water out of its own way and get somewhere, otherwise there’s really no point beyond making the connection with fans – and while you and I might think that’s lovely and warranted – the band (and if not our band, definitely others out there!) most likely has bigger hopes in mind. There are hundreds of social networking sites out there now. Most are either unheard of or rarely used, but the big ones are Facebook and Twitter. Each day I read several blogs regarding how to turn those “likes” into sales, or those “followers” into “fans that purchase”. No one seems to know exactly how to close the sale. It seems to me that each day, more sites like Twitmusic go live, hoping to be the answer to seamlessly transfer the followers into dollar signs, and typically – they fail to deliver. All of this incredibly innovation, networking and technology – and yet sales are still ridiculously low across the board. Why?

That’s the million dollar question these days.  Hey, I’m no different from anyone else.  I don’t claim to have the answers. I just know we’re on the wrong page in the wrong book! Many, many others seem to think they’ve got they know the formula, and yet no one has said anything that has made a difference yet. Whether it’s piracy, the economy, DRM (Digital Rights Management), or the fact that everything really is available at our fingertips every hour of every day, hence there’s never a sense of urgency to buy, the truth is that Twitmusic is going to do relatively little if anything to help curb the sales hunger.

Sure, be a “fan” of @DuranDuran on Twitmusic. We did because of course we want to support the band. Listen to their music however you’d like and perhaps you’ll spread the word of their newest album online to your followers. I don’t know if you’re like @dailyduranie – but at least 95% of our followers are you. Fellow fans. Preaching to the choir maybe?

Just a little, I’ll bet.

-R

Karaoke and Superfans…do we really need a tutorial?

This weekend I was out with my husband (I can’t even remember why we were actually out of the house without a child in tow…) and over lunch we had the oddest conversation. As we were eating lunch, completely out of nowhere, my husband asks me what I think would happen if one of the band members was in a karaoke bar (yeah, right there is when I should have tuned out…) and heard someone attempt to sing Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf. Sigh. To begin with, I really need everyone to understand that Duran Duran really doesn’t occupy THAT many of my thoughts on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s my weekend. So once I snapped into reality and recognized that yes, he really wanted my answer to this question. I rolled my eyes as only a wife can do, and said I didn’t know. Sadly, this wasn’t enough for my dear husband. He continued on saying “Let’s say it was Simon.” (Oh yes, let’s!) “Does he go up and sing a DD song, or does he sing something else?”  Sigh. More eye rolling. I really don’t know what he’d do. Why would Simon go to a karaoke bar anyway? Isn’t that sort of like my husband hanging out at a trade show just for the fun of it??

Yes, these are the sorts of conversations we’ll have when my husband is left to his own devices. I still haven’t answered him.  Luckily, I found another topic to badger him about. Any guesses from the rest of you out there??

In a desperate attempt to catch up on the RSS feeds I chose to ignore last week, I was scrolling through some this morning and came across an article about superfans.  While reading, naturally I referred back to our own fan community here.  It talks about things such as naming your fans, giving approaching fans undivided attention, tagging fans (or allowing fans to tag themselves, actually) in panoramic concert photos (as in taken from the stage), sharing “dark secrets” on the blog, developing shared symbols, playing smaller venues, and a few others.  If you are interested in reading the original article that I’m commenting about before blasting me with love notes about how ridiculous it is to use the term “Superfan”….read it here.

I stopped to consider why on earth the article ever needed to be written, not really whether or not Duran Duran fans meet the criteria or whether the band employs these methods. (We’ve been fans for over 30 years in many cases. That should pretty much answer that, yes?)  I almost liken this to attempting to write a chart-topping ‘hit’. If you’ve got to TRY to create superfans rather than just allowing it all to happen organically out of loyalty to the band or to the music, is it really the same thing? In our case, much of the time we’ve had relatively little contact with the band directly. Sure, they’ve come on tour and we’ve gone to see them, but unless you happen to live in the UK to visit them at the studio, their homes, etc…most of us have never that chance on a regular basis, if ever. We’ve stuck by them from the beginning because we believed in the music, and many times, it wasn’t anything more than a transactional relationship that kept us there. It’s only been as of late that the model has really evolved to where we have more opportunity for interaction – whether that is through having the opportunity to travel, to see them locally, to get involved in social media, or other methods. I like the theoretical ideas of Fan Empowerment or Direct-To-Fan. However, when it gets to the point where manuals are created on the “How To” of cultivating superfans rather than letting the music chart the direction and fan loyalty create the ties that bind, we’re running dangerously close to having the same synthetic and formulaic feeling of many ‘hits’ that top the charts today. It feels like being stuck in a studio with Timbaland. (Yes, I dared to say that.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that Duran Duran hoped to create loyal fans and that their attempts to reach us on Twitter or by creating a fan club early on were all about cultivating that loyalty. Was it all really that mind-numbingly calculated?  I suppose the proof is in the pudding – somebody drop me a line in twenty or thirty years and let me know how it works out for some of these newer bands and their fans.

-R

Why hasn’t there been a Girl Panic?!

Let’s be honest: we are probably the easiest sales the band knows.  When they put out an album, they can guarantee – or at least seriously count on a certain amount of sales purely based on the hardcore fan base.  I really am not sure how big of a number that is at this point, but I know we exist out there somewhere!  It really makes no difference whether we love the album or hate it, most of us still buy at least one copy (and some of us will buy even more…) just to keep the collection pristine.  The band truly has to do very little to keep the core base going.  Sure, there have been times when the numbers have gone down or flattened out, but there still remains a base.  It’s somewhat counterintuitive to what many fans feel they deserve, because here I am admitting that the band has to do relatively little to keep our interest, and yet just a few weeks ago we were chatting about what we felt we deserved.  It’s a delicate balance between continuing a connection with long time fans, and striving for new.

Not long ago, I commented that Girl Panic (the video) really did not sell many additional songs or albums for the band.  This information is not made up on my part, it was straight from John Taylor’s mouth.  Currently the video is sitting at nearly 5.3 million views, a number the band themselves has characterized as “viral”.  Apparently that number has not translated well into additional sales, and it seemed – at least to me – that the band is at least somewhat confused as to why that is.  It’s the “new model”, some will say.

So the new model basically says that music is free to those who want to get it, and so if I’m understanding this all correctly – it’s really up to the band to convince everyone (except the hard core fan base, apparently) else WHY they should buy.  I dare say that most people don’t really care how EASY it is to purchase the song or album, and most people don’t really care about how many different places you can buy it, how many versions there are available, or how many different forms the album comes in. (mp3, iTunes mp4, vinyl, CD, etc.)  It seems to me that most people, other than me and perhaps the others reading this blog, want to know why they should part with their good money to own the album.  Why should they care?

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to Duran Duran.  It applies to every single band or artist out there – and some artists are hitting the mark, and some are not.  Some artists and bands are blessed with HUGE fan bases that buy everything they sell.  The work to keep those fans just might not be as tough – but to be fair – there are remarkably few of those bands out there. The overwhelming majority have to work very hard to show people why they are worthy.

How do they create that interest?  Well to begin with – it’s the music.  That’s not enough though, and that is just not where the story ends.  It’s merely the beginning.  One of my favorite quotes these days is from Ian Rogers, who is the CEO of TopSpin (a Direct-To-Fan Marketing company).  “This is not a world where you can simply record an excellent song and expect people will naturally discover and go crazy for it.  This is not a build-it-and-they-will-come world.”  I just don’t think there’s a better example of this out there than Duran Duran.  Some might say they aren’t consistent with their music.  Ok sure, some albums haven’t sold well (All You Need is Now is in that category, mind you!)  and might not be what *I* would prefer, but by and large – they’ve got a great catalog, historically speaking.  All You Need is Now is probably one of their best albums ever and is truly worthy of sales 10 or 15 times more than what they’ve seen thus far.  The problem though, is that for whatever reason, the band doesn’t reach people.  Yes, they have truly paved the way for a relationship with their existing fans.  The trouble is, we are really not the people they need to sell on their music.  We’re already sold!!

So, real goal is sharing the “why”.  It’s forging an interest from the people that don’t already know and love them, and it’s learning to balance that newly formed relationship with the ones that already exist.  Not an easy line to walk.  Long time fans aren’t necessarily excited by “new ways”.  Change is an awful thing when you’re in your forties I guess. I remember the uproar when they began the paid fan community – and I can’t really imagine what fans would do if they started a crowdfunding campaign for their next album or tour (see andytaylor.tv for a great blog on Crowdfunding by our friend and fellow fan, Bryony Evens!)

A great article to further explain my point and introduce some others can be found here.

-R

Reliving last May, good news & Uberlife!

I have two topics for your reading pleasure today!  I hope everyone is doing well, and that Dubai is beautiful for everyone who has made their way by now.

Yesterday we were treated to some tasty news bytes from Duran Duran HQ as they posted a solid update on the Diamond in the Mind DVD, due to be released in early summer (of 2012!).

I saw the update just as I was typing up the blog, and while part of me wanted to comment, another part of me just couldn’t find the words.  I must give props to begin with – I’m happy to see the band (and the people doing the hard work for them!) updating as beautifully as they did on Facebook yesterday.  It was great to see where they are in the process, and I know I speak for all fans when I say that it’s great to read solid news like that when they have it to share.  Recently Daily Duranie had a bit of discussion about where fans get their news, and while it was clear that all of us have differing opinions on the subject, the important thing is that news is being shared.  I think that has to be difficult to be working behind the scenes for Duran Duran because just as you and I are learning how to utilize social media, learning of all the new ways that people can connect, contact, and engage – so is the band and their people.  While a few years ago it may have seem prudent to just throw the information up on their website, the fact is there are many more people on Facebook or Twitter now, and the information can be dispersed far more quickly.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t ever be posted on the website, of course not.  It just means that they are having to learn what way works best for the fan community as a whole, and yes, sometimes things don’t work as smoothly as we’d like.  Sometimes this BLOG doesn’t work as smoothly as we’d like.  It’s a learning process for all, and as much as I want to bust chops when needed, I can also appreciate that the job is difficult.    (And no…we’re not being paid by the band.  Just wanted to make that clear.  Again.)

While those words came remarkably easy, the next ones are not.  I saw that the band is going to do a documentary on 2011.  Not an easy year for any of us, really.  Naturally we all know (and lately I’ve learned even more) about Simon’s vocal problems back in May of last year.  We lived it, didn’t we?  I think it’s fascinating, if not just a little scary for me, to hear that they are going to even include some of the rehearsal footage from that time.  I know we’ve talked about this before on the blog – but Amanda and I were there.  We were standing outside (I might mention here that I was shivering the entire time, both from cold AND a good case of nervous anxiety) the rehearsal studio while the band went in to rehearse to see if they could even do the show at the O2.  By that day Amanda and I had already missed out on seeing 3 out of the 4 shows we’d originally planned.  While I was excited and nervous to even be in the presence of the band (albeit somewhat remotely as I was outside of the fence surrounding the studio and the band was inside), I felt so sick to my stomach that day.  There was just an overall gloom in the air even though the UK girls who were kind enough to share sidewalk space with us that day tried to stay as cheerful as possible.  It wasn’t long before the band came back out, a few stopping to talk from inside their cars – John being one of them, and by far the most poignant.  It was just a very, very tough day, and the idea of reliving it – well, I’m glad it’s being included on the DVD for those who weren’t there and didn’t quite believe what they were seeing and hearing online.  I still say that I really didn’t believe Simon would ever come back from that.  Thank goodness he did.

The next tidbit I’ve got is more along the lines of Direct to Fan.  Anyone ever heard of Uberlife?  It’s a new app that a lot of bands are trying out.  There are plenty of places for “hanging out” online, but this app takes a band from the online world to the real world.  Granted, I really can’t see how this would work for Duran Duran since I think they’re pretty much scared to death of their fans (we can talk about why this is the case if y’all want….but I think we all have a good idea why!)….but it IS something that could work beautifully for the fan community at large.   Here’s a couple articles on the subject along with the website:

Uberlife

Uberlife to launch at SXSW

It’s an app…and I’m kind of thinking that this is something Daily Duranie could really use…watch this space!!

-R

Is there a solution for DDM?

Someone once said that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  We take that quote to heart here at Daily Duranie.  Contrary to what some believe, we don’t simply “moan”.  Our blog is meant to not only bring issues to light (whether those issues are good, bad, or indifferent),  it is meant as a springboard for discussion.  The only thing Amanda and I truly control is the direction the blog takes each day.  From there, we allow the discussion, should there be one, to flow however it might, although we respond to the comments. Sometimes, we’re completely surprised by the lack of response, and other days, we are simply surprised by number of responses!  Overall, we want our blog to be a pivotal source of discussion, and perhaps a source of movement for our fan community.  GLOBALLY.

Fan clubs are a much different animal today than while I was growing up.  Back then all a fan had to do was look for the fan club address in the back of Tiger Beat, then send them their name, address and money for the membership fee (if required).  Then in about 4 months,  a packet with fan club swag would arrive in the mail…and that was about it.  If a fan was really lucky they might get added to a mailing list, and just as that fan moved on from that particular object of interest to the next latest celebrity or band, they’d get some sort of newsletter telling that they were going on tour, or in a new movie.  It took relatively little, and having a fan club really didn’t hurt or help a celebrity.

Today is far different.  As I’ve mentioned several times lately – the model for doing business in this industry has changed.  What used to work back in the 80’s along with about $3.00 will buy you a small cup of house coffee these days, and those records will still be on the shelf.  (Except that today we’re talking mp3’s and iTunes, aren’t we?) The troubling thing is that so many bands are incredibly slow to pick up on the new reality. Their management doesn’t get it, the bands don’t understand why radio isn’t playing them, and they’re expecting that since they sold records a few decades back, that they can still do it solely based on their name.


Those days are over.

Even artists like Paul McCartney are finding that they have to appeal to their audience on a completely different and much more personal level than ever before.  A lot of it is trial and error, and still more of it requires making the connection directly with their fan base.  Many bands, especially those built back in the day when fans were something they ran from, are resistant to the idea.  Just the words “Fan Empowerment” sound so completely radical.  What in the hell could those words possibly mean, and why on earth would an artist or band actually want to speak to those people?!?

Our roles have certainly changed.  The term Fan Community means far, far more than just a club. (For the record – in this blog, I am referring to our community at large, NOT just the pay-to-play DDM Fan Community) Daily Duranie is all about community.  We like the idea of promoting and celebrating what brings us together. For many of us, we’ve been around a long time.  My kids say we’re older than dirt. (a particularly hateful thing to say, but it’s becoming closer to reality with each passing day, I suppose)   We do want to bring fans together, because fostering that connection to one another does something else: it fosters loyalty.  Meet ups, weekend get togethers, group hotels for tour stops, conventions – things like that present opportunities for fans to get together and connect with one another.

For far too long, our community has been almost solely about what *we* can get out of the band.  How can we get the band to recognize we’re here and give us more of what we want – which is them, obviously.  How can we make sure that WE get those front row tickets, meet and greets, etc; yet make sure that we get more of them than anyone else in the community.  We don’t like to share much, do we? There is so much discussion of that sort of thing in our community, yet there is frighteningly little discussion of how we can work together to promote the very thing we all have in common.  The BAND.  Of course the front row tickets, the meet and greets, the “accidental” meetings outside of a hotel are part of being a fan.  They do make it all more fun and it would be ridiculous to argue otherwise.  I like to have fun too!!

My assertion is that there is room and time for everything.  The sense of community, the fun “extras” like good tickets and experiences, and even promotion can be accomplished with help directly from the fan community. That idea has the potential to be empowering for everyone.  With that thought in mind, and with yesterday’s blog still on my heart, I want to know what YOU think can be done to improve the paid fan community.  Should we scrap it and start over?  Should there even be a paid fan community?  I brought a few problems up for discussion yesterday, but what can really be done to improve the situation?

-R