Category Archives: fans

The Games People Play

As promised yesterday on Twitter, I’m revisiting the subject of our fan community today in the blog.  Ok, so the reality is that there’s no breaking Duran news for me to report….I admit it.  😉  In all seriousness though, is it just me or does anyone else out there in Duranland (Duranverse?  Durankingdom??) notice how cutthroat the community can be at times?

I have no frame of reference for other fan communities, as I only have enough time and energy for one truly favorite band!  I just know that after so many years of being a Duran Duran fan and being involved in the community – it’s very hard to ignore the constant game playing that seems to take precedence over friendship whenever the band is involved.   That said, why is it so important to make sure that you have the “most”?  For instance, the most pictures with the band, the most drumsticks from Roger, the most meet and greets, or the most and best information with regard to where the band is staying or hanging out after a show.  Are those things really that important, and do they really make someone more or less of a fan if they do or do not have them?  I’m not sure I can really answer that question within the framework of our blog…so let me bring up a few thoughts to ponder:

Why is it that men don’t seem to have a problem “sharing” the band?  What I mean by that is specifically – when I’m on a board, or at a show and I want to know something, whether it’s where everyone is staying before a show, where I can find a picture/unreleased song/album, etc, where everyone is going after a show, etc – if I ask just about any Duran fan that is male – they have absolutely no issue telling me.

What do we really get out of playing “the game”?  Honestly.  Think about that.  Yeah, I suppose you could say that you’ve got a boatload of drumsticks at home, or an entire album filled with pictures of yourself with all members of the band….but really, does that REALLY get you anything else in life?  Call me crazy, but if you’re willing to throw other fans, possibly other friends under the bus in order to get closer to the band…what are you really getting out of it?

Lastly for today, when does it end?  Meaning – at what point do you think the band will become less of a trophy to win and more like something special that connects all of us?  The band is something to be celebrated, not something that should require strategic networking, secrecy and deception.  I’m not saying that we should all go to our nearest Duran Duran board and broadcast that the band is staying at such and such hotel – that’s just stupid – but on the same token, the next time someone comes up to you after a show and says “Hey, where are you guys hanging out after the show?”  Maybe, just maybe….you’ll feel comfortable telling a fellow fan.  After all, at this point in our lives, we should be celebrating the fact that the band still tours and plays a great show.

Tomorrow (barring any exciting news from the band…):  A set of FAQ’s for any “new” fan to a message board!

-R

Dwindling numbers

Lately, I’ve been spending some time over on DDM, which is the paid, official fan community for Duran Duran.  They have a message board or forum there that members may participate in – and over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of the members “in person” at various events:  concerts, meetups, pre and post show parties, etc.  It’s a great resource for fans to connect with other fans in some sort of “official” fan club.  I confess that up until very recently, it wasn’t one of the first places on the web that I would frequent for fan information, or to connect with other fans.  This is purely a personal decision – there was nothing inherently wrong with the community there, it was just very big and impersonal unless you were among the privileged few that had been an active member since day one.  I think I’ve had my membership since about that time, but because the board was so busy, and because I’d already found my own message board “home”…I never really got involved. (my home?  DDF.  It’s a VERY tiny board these days.  Very quiet, but at one point we did have quite a solid group of fans posting there.)  Recently though, I’ve taken more to posting there because my old home board has gotten so slow that I would swear cobwebs are forming on the website.

I’m sure that as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about how numbers seem to de dwindling all over the place.  They really have been since the end of the Astronaut tour, and of course the last album probably did not help.  Well, at some point last week, someone on the DDM board posting something about the dwindling membership there – and much to my surprise, they were able to locate the current number of members on the board.  As of this writing today, there are 2237 people registered on the DDM member list – I believe those are forum members, not necessarily ALL the members on DDM, but I can’t be sure.  Down on the bottom of the forum index page, it gives some song and dance about how there are 13,590 registered users – those may very well be all of the members who have paid to be on DDM.  Regardless, those numbers are down significantly from 2005.

It seems like once or twice a week (give or take), someone will post something about how they miss the crowds that would frequent the board back in ’05.  They miss the “fun” people, they miss the sheer excitement that surrounded the band.  You would almost swear we were waxing nostalgic on 1985, and while I can certainly understand how people miss the days when we were all thinking “what if this band makes it big again – how cool would THAT be?”, I also wonder what is really driving people away from the fan community.  Sure, everyone has their own lives – although I had my “own life” back in 2005 and still made time for the band and making new friends.  That doesn’t seem to be what’s really changed for most people…

I don’t think the band has ever been the type to just get out and be with their people.  In fact, I  daresay that the band doesn’t really think we “ARE” their people.  🙂   I’m not asserting that they should think that way – I’m simply stating what I feel to be true.  It’s not really my job to decide if the band is doing something the right or wrong way – it’s my job to see it from the fans’ perspective.  One of you can do the hard work from the other side of the fence!  As such, over the years I’ve heard fans say over and over again that the band doesn’t try to connect with us.  They’d don’t twitter, they really don’t facebook on their own, I know there’s been rumor of some posts way back when on dd.com  when they had a message board – but there’s never been any substantiation of that, and they really don’t make too much of an attempt to hang out with fans before or after shows.  Yes, we might get lucky and stumble upon them at a bar or club…which, in THIS fan’s opinion anyway….has always been a bit of a circus spectacle.  Hmm, perhaps they don’t want to hang out with us BECAUSE of our behavior.  Gee.  In any case, perhaps this has driven fans away.  They’re tired of supporting a band that doesn’t seem all that terribly interested.

The band has been inconsistent.   *I* am not saying albums have flopped, so stop writing that hate mail right this second!  I’m observing things from a fan prospective.   I think that in general – there are fans that jump on the bandwagon with one album that jump off for the next one.  It happens to all bands, to all fandoms for that matter, and the strong tend to survive.  I have to wonder what the next album will bring as far as new fans, or old fans that have come back into the fold.  I’ve been on message boards where the longtime fans have come down hard on people who have fallen away when the albums haven’t lived up to expectation, and my response to that is “WHY?”   Sure, I feel pretty strongly about my own fandom.  I’m proud to say I’ve been a fan for almost 30 years now….but isn’t it our job to welcome new fans or returning fans?  At this point, the band could really use our help to welcome people in, not be the bouncers for those we deem to be not worthy.  Just a thought.

The fan community itself is a tough place to navigate.  I don’t mean specifically DDM – I’m talking the community as a whole.  I’ve run into fans over and over that complain about the fans themselves.  It’s a big game of who has met who, how many pictures so and so has with the band, how many times someone has gone VIP, and my personal favorite…”I have information that I can’t/won’t share.”  *gasp*   It’s a shame that the fan community at its worst turns into a place where only the toughest and most strategic can thrive.  Shouldn’t we be welcoming new people rather than trying to run them out of town, so to speak?  Shouldn’t we be sharing information, since the band is the one thing that connects all of us?  Many fans, like myself – have been a fan now for nearly 30 years. (29 in my case.  That’s ridiculous!!!)   Isn’t it time we realize that no matter how many photographs we have, drumsticks we’ve caught, VIP tickets we buy,  this isn’t a game where there are winners or losers.  It’s a fan community.  Emphasis on the community.  The friendships you make will take you far beyond the time the band ever gives you. Sure, the fantasies are great, but let’s be real for a second and realize that the band is merely the backdrop to the fun times the community has together, whether the community is strong at 15,000 or mighty at 2,000.  I think that for a lot of fans, they’ve gotten tired of playing the game.

I don’t know what exact combination of reasons has brought us to a few thousand devoted members on DDM, although I know the list of reasons is FAR longer than the very select few I’ve mentioned.  I only know that we’re as strong as we are connected – and we as fans have a LOT of work to do in that arena. (yep, the pun is definitely intended!)

-R

Types of Fans

Five years ago, the authors of this blog were in Las Vegas, attending a charity event featuring many musical artists, including Duran Duran.  Interestingly enough, many Duranies went despite the fact that Duran Duran played only 4 songs.  I know that I was thrilled to see those 4 songs.  In fact, I was so thrilled that I nearly lost my voice in my attempts to show support by singing and screaming.  Of course, the fact that I stayed up all night, dancing and hanging out in a club with countless other Duranies did not help.

Would every Duranie fly across the country to see only 4 songs?  Would every fan spend time away from work and their families to be with other fans?  Does that fit the definition of a fan?  Do you have to be willing to travel and spend a lot of money to be a fan?  Do you have to own everything about your favorite whatever?  Does all, or most, of your free time center around something related to the object of interest?  Should most of your vacations be spent with other fans?  What if you don’t do those things, does that make you less of a fan?

After years of being involved in the Duran Duran fandom, I have come to realize that there are different levels of fans.  By saying that, I don’t mean that one level is “higher” or “better” than the other just that being a fan means different things to different people.  I realize that in my daily life.  I certainly know people who like a few songs who consider themselves to be fans.  Obviously, there are other people who are interested in their upcoming new album and hope to catch a show or two on the next tour, if it fits with their schedules.  Then, there are the fans like my blog partner and myself.  We check the message boards frequently for news and commentary.  We look forward to every product released from and about Duran.  Touring is our most favorite activity and we take it pretty seriously.  So much so, we wouldn’t recommend joining us, if one was faint of heart.  That said, we know that there is a balance that needs to be maintained.  We are reminded of that when we see or hear of other people who might have crossed the line a bit when it comes to celebrities. 

All types of fans have their place in fandom (assuming that no one would go so far as to hurt the band or their fellow fans).  When I think back to that weekend in Vegas, I’m sure that I met, saw and connected with fans across the spectrum from the casual fan to the serious one to the overboard fan.  I like that we are all different, in our level of intensity.  It makes us more interesting and it reminds me that fans comes in all levels of commitment and behavior.  The important thing is that we all like the same thing and we just tend to express it in different ways and amounts, or so I remind myself.  Not every fan needs be like me!  The world would be afraid.  🙂

-A