Category Archives: social networking

Social Networking and the Fan

Back in 1993, the only way I heard about Duran Duran canceling shows on their tour was when I heard about it on the radio.   Truth be told, I don’t think I had even known they were touring – I can’t honestly remember – but I can tell you that I was in my senior year of college, my parents were in the middle of losing their home, and I had just went inactive from my sorority so that I could graduate that June.  I do remember hearing the announcement though, and while I was concerned for Simon, at the time there was no one that I could truly call or email. (email?? This was 1993. I didn’t even HAVE email!)  Just as I’m sure many others did, I moved on.  I heard later that the they started playing again, and much later, I went to another show.  I missed out on the “is this the end?” rumors, or the anger coming from the fans because their show had been postponed or canceled.  There was no way to convey concern, there was no one to worry with, and what might have been very stressful for the band truly passed me by in almost every way.  

In 2011 though, another tour was postponed.  I couldn’t escape the anger, the worry, the concern, the rumors…or the fact that I was directly impacted.  Not only could I talk to Amanda since she was standing right next to me through most of it (quite literally, I might add!), I could email, I blogged, news was begotten through Facebook and transmitted through Twitter, and I could have even marked the exact day (but alas, I did not mark the day on my calendar!)  that Simon announced that things were beginning to turn around for him.  For me personally, the episode was fairly traumatic – and I have to assume this is not only because I was there in the UK when the shows were postponed.  I knew with as much certainty as anyone else as to what was going on, and the band – bless them – seemed to be fairly forthcoming with whatever news they could provide.  The social networking phenomena worked it’s magic, and within the blink of an eye the word was spread not only through the DD community, but throughout the world.  The differences between 2011 and 1993 are evident, even if only examined through these two instances.  
This is an issue that I’ve blogged about prior, but it’s also the chapter I’m currently working on for our book.  I don’t mind telling everyone that I am having the worst time writing the chapter!  It’s completely overwhelming to me, and I don’t really know why.  I have the chapter about halfway written I suppose, but every time I open the file, I spend a good several minutes just staring at the paragraphs, and sometimes that’s as far as I get.  I do have an outline I’m working from – normally I don’t outline and the writing comes easy, but every once in a while I’ll hit a chapter like this, where the topic just feels so big and there are so many points to hit that I just can’t begin.  In this case, I did begin – it’s the continuing that’s a problem!  I’m to the point where I’m thinking it’s time to perhaps move on to another chapter and then come back to this at a later point when my head is clear.  The funny thing is that I started this chapter back in April (yes, it’s really taken that long), and then May happened – and now I can’t seem to write.  It’s very frustrating, especially when I do have an idea of what I need to convey.  The whole purpose of the chapter is to show just how much social networking has changed being a fan.  It’s intensified the entire experience on so many levels, and I suspect that if the band, or at least certain members were asked – they might even agreed that it’s changed their view of the fans as well.  
So, I’m throwing this subject out for conversation, my dear readers.  How do you feel feel about Twitter, Facebook and the like?  Do you feel like you’re better able to experience being a fan these days than back in the 80’s?  How is it different?  What do you enjoy about it?  What don’t you enjoy as much?  
I’m hoping to get some conversation going here – and then maybe I’ll have the creative juice flowing for some writing.  If you aren’t comfortable posting your thoughts for the world (and please know that Amanda and I are NOT quoting fans directly anywhere in our book), please feel free to send us a gmail.  Our inbox gets dusty in there from inactivity, and I always write back!  
Until Monday – have a good weekend!! -R

Did you hear that pin drop? What about those crickets??

I would venture to guess that the past month has been a bit of a roller coaster for anyone in the DD fan community that has been paying attention or going to a show here or there.  First you’re in the extremely long line to get on the ride….then you’re in the station house in the queue to get on, then you make the very long climb up that first hill, and suddenly you are the bottom again.  The ride goes very fast from there on, and now we’ve just been unceremoniously dumped off the ride.  It’s darn quiet, folks.

It’s not just that there aren’t shows this week, it’s that it seems most everyone is on vacation.  Well, Daily Duranie is NOT on vacation…yet.  😉

The past several months have truly been a bit of a Duran Duran high for me.  When we first began this blogging project, I wasn’t really sure how it was all going to go.  I didn’t really know if I’d have enough to say, nor did I know if anyone would really understand what I was writing and actually “get” it.  Excitedly, I’m able to report that there are many, many of you out there who are not only as obsessed as I, but you’re willing to admit it, too!  I can’t really describe the satisfaction I get from the blog, but it’s added an entirely different dimension to being a fan.   I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be more excited about getting a new album, or more excited about upcoming shows, or even attending those shows, but somehow having the blog has allowed me the opportunity to experience the band both as a fan and as a writer who just happens to be a fan.  If I ever thought I was getting tired, which I suppose at one point not that long ago I did feel as though I was getting a little tired and “long in the tooth” for being a fan, blogging has renewed that youthful vigor and enthusiasm!

Then there has been Twitter and Facebook.  About 2 years ago, and likely even longer, I admittedly became very critical of the way the band handled, or more truthfully, didn’t handle, their fans.  Purely from my point of view – here was a band that had a fairly loyal fan base for the better part of thirty years.  I’m sure fans have come and gone over the years, but that’s not really the point.  There are fans who have truly been around in support of the band for probably over thirty years now.  Maybe they were even around during the Rum Runner days, who knows.  (I am sure that there’s got to be someone out there who went to some of those gigs at the Rum Runner and is now sick to death of the rest of us who came along only after they became famous and claim the band as our own!)  Yet the band never seemed to make much of a point of reaching out.  They seemed pretty content to play the shows, let their minions handle our requests, and would annoyingly say a very quick “hello” on their website on special occasions like their birthdays…and once in a while they’d even throw us a bone or two by blogging.  We’d drink the news as though we had just spent a year in the desert and found water, and then immediately cry out of thirst for more.  I never felt like the band really noticed, or honestly cared.   Many of us grew fond of saying that we were simply the bands paycheck, and in all fairness, that IS how it felt.  We learned to understand that our roles were simple: they made the music, and we bought it.   No less, no more.   I would presume to say that I became more vocal about the disconnect between the fans and the band as time wore on, and this was well before we even began the blog.  Then suddenly, the game changed.  Apparently Simon joined Twitter last July but never really used his account much, then John joined in the fall.  I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the turn of events.  It’s funny how one simple thing can change your entire perception, but it’s true.

I daresay that John got on the bandwagon in the nick of time (so many puns in one sentence….is that really even fair??), but he did.  I appreciate that he gave the medium a fair chance, and I’m thrilled to see that he realizes it does have it’s place.  Simon followed suit, and while they have completely different styles of tweeting, they are both very valuable to the fans.  I’ve gotten so used to seeing John’s sudden burst of tweets – and I do often comment back – but typically it’s on Facebook because unlike John, I prefer that medium.  (140 characters just isn’t enough.  I’m wordy!)  I realize he doesn’t read them, and that’s OK.  A lot of times I’m commenting for the sake of the other fans on Facebook.  If I’m on Twitter, I’ll take the time to comment, but I still don’t expect an answer back.  It’s good enough to see he’s answering many other fans out there.  I think we’ve all grown to cherish that simple connection, so to speak.  Roger is a Facebook guy, which yes – I adore because if you’ve read my blogs at all – you know he’s my favorite. (please insert hearts and flowers and all that preteen girly stuff here.)  I comment there as well, full-well knowing that once again, nothing I say is really all that exciting, and yet – I’m still satisfied with that.  Mostly.  If he ever did comment back – well, it’d be a good day in my house.  Just saying.  🙂   Heck, I’d say that about any of them.  It’s about the connection.

Oddly though, I think the interaction on Facebook and Twitter has helped them to see the fans as real humans.  I realize that to them – we’ve always been those slightly (some more so than others) crazy people that tend to scream when we see them.  We’re those women (face it people, most of us ARE women) who will show up at the same bar as they do after shows only to paw at them, watch them as though they are a circus act, and try to run our fingers through their hair. (really??  Do people really do that??!!?)  Even so, there are a good many of us out there that haven’t ever participated in any of that, behavior, and most of us are happy just to get a nod or a smile out of them.  In return, I think that we see that they too, are human.  (all but that Nick Rhodes…I’m still thinking he’s alien….and until he joins the rest of the world on Facebook or Twitter…we may never really know for sure.  *envision my evil smile here*)  They have moods, they have feelings, and most of all….they have LIVES that don’t involve the fans.  Imagine that!!

So, this week, John has imposed a vacation from Twitter on himself.  When he first mentioned it, I laughed.  Yes, I really did.  Mainly because there have been numerous times when I myself have had to do that very same thing.  Invariably it’s when they are about to announce a show in my area….but I digress.  Then I commented that I thought it was a good idea, and that I hope he followed through with it.  And I did!  Someone else mentioned that with his addiction, that they didn’t know if he could do it – and I commented back (on Facebook I believe) that the man quit smoking cold turkey.  He can be on vacation from Twitter for a little less than a week, easy!  I hope he’s enjoying himself.  For the rest of us though, I can’t wait until he starts to tweet again because it’s QUIET without him!  Yes, I know Simon has been tweeting off and on…and someday, I’m going to open up about my real feelings about that man, but today is not that day.  (and I hope when that day comes, my good friend Moocher from DDF will be around to read.)

This week, I’ve had to endure by reading a short tweet from Dom (glad he’s enjoying his week off with his kids), and getting ready for my UK trip.  I’d say it was agony, but aside from today (which is crawling along RIDICULOUSLY slow), it’s been good.  I’ve ordered 5 pairs of shoes so far, and bought most of my travel sized stuff for my trip.  My husband has a message for the band though, and that’s to *never* take time off of Twitter again.  🙂

The real question is – will John actually come back from this vacation with a TAN?!?  Is that even possible?!?  😀   (please don’t hurt me, John fans…it was meant as a friendly joke!!) We will have to see…..

-R

Twitter Vacation

John Taylor has gone on a twitter vacation.  It is just for a few days.  Yet, I’m finding myself pondering this.  Is it a good thing?  A bad thing?  How will it effect the fan community?  Duran Duran finished their shows in North America on Saturday night in the Dominican Republic.  From here, they are off to Europe with a show in Zurich followed by the shows in the UK (Yay!).  Summer will be filled with Europe dates.  I wonder with Duran moving beyond the US and other North American countries and with John’s twitter silence how fans here are going to deal, assuming that John really will be able to keep silent.  One of the interesting things about John and tweeting is that he really seems to enjoy doing it.  It doesn’t seem to be part of his job but something that he wants to do.  Nonetheless, right now, he is taking a break from it as the band is between North American and Europe tour dates.  I don’t blame him but I will be watching to see how the fans handle this. 

Duran is one band that seems to take a lot of breaks.  Now, being honest, I don’t follow any other bands this closely so it might be that all bands take breaks.  Duran obviously takes breaks to work on albums but they also take them in between legs of a tour, like now.  I can definitely understand that.  I’m sure that many/most/all of them are checking in at home, trying to rest up, etc.  Maybe they are even getting ready to introduce new songs into the setlist (please, oh, please…*coughLateBarcough*).  These breaks, though, sometimes, seem to bring out the worst in us fans.  I worry that this time might be even worse.  Why?  Why would it be worse?  Two reasons, really.  The first and most important reason is that we have all been able to feel closer to the band because of their use of social networking.  They have become more of a constant entity in our daily lives.  The second one has more to do with the nature of our fan community.  I’m sure that there is some negative feelings towards or between those fans who got to see a show or two on this run.  Maybe, there is animosity towards those who have shows coming up.  Perhaps, those negative feelings (fair or not) might be coming from the people who won’t get a show for whatever reason.  In my experience, when Duranies are restless, bored or annoyed, shit tends to hit the fan. 

In the past, whenever there has been downtime, Duranies seem to start to get on each other’s nerves.  I’m not sure why.  My theory has always been that when you have nothing else to focus on, you tend to focus on each other.  Yet, it seems to be relatively calm and peaceful on most message boards I have glanced at recently and I haven’t heard anything too crazy going on in the world of Twitter or Facebook.  People commented about their shows, shared their stories and seem to be accepting of one another.  This also surprises me.  Does this mean that there wasn’t any drama during this leg?  I can’t imagine that.  I’m sure that there had to be some drama somewhere.  I’m not saying that there should be drama or conflicts anywhere just that I’m surprised by this and am preparing for it now that the guys are gone.  Although, I don’t know if the others are taking a break from social networking, too, or if it is just John? 

Could the quiet be a sign that our fan community is growing up a bit?  Could be that everyone really just sticks to their own group of friends so there is less interaction and less conflict?  Could it be that people are being better about this type of thing?  I don’t know.  I know that there has been conflicts in the last month or so.  I can’t imagine that everything has improved that dramatically in such a short time.  Is it that everyone is tired from following all of the action?  That could be.  I obviously welcome this.  I am still preparing myself, though, as I know that the peace can end quickly.  This could be the calm before the storm.  To be honest, that is one thing I’m really looking forward to in the UK.  No known drama.  I’m sure that drama is quite possible there, too, but I’m not as familiar with it.  The trip can be drama-free, at least for my group. 

Thus, as I continue to plan for my trip, I will be missing John’s tweets and will be watching and waiting to see if all of the Duranies can handle the silence and the break.

-A

Don’t Spill My Secret…

It is touring season in Duranland.  This means, of course, that there are discussions about which shows people are going to, about presale frustration, about setlists, about merchandise, and more.  It also means that somewhere, on some message board, on some social networking site, there is a thread, a question, a discussion topic on meeting the band.  This thread or topic usually begins with a person/poster asking, seemingly innocently, about how people have met the band.  The question is a common one.  Perhaps, the person really wants to know other people’s meet and greet stories.  Maybe, they want to know if VIPing is worth the money.  Yet, it is also possible that the person wants to know how other fans get their information about where the band is staying.  Maybe they want to see who seems to know more than the average fan.  What is always fascinating to me is how people react to the question.

It seems to me that there are common responses to this question.  The first kind of response is to ignore it.  The second kind is to mock, at least in a subtle way.  The third kind is to give an answer but an incomplete one.  I suppose it is possible for the response to be completely frank and open but I doubt that I have ever seen it in Duranland.  Why?  Why the different responses?  Before I dive into my theories about the different responses, let me point out something that may or may not be known.  Fans can and do find the band.  I have seen and heard enough to know that.  It also seems to me that some fans are more likely to do this than others.  Yes, some fans, like me, have met them through legitimate means (in my case-a cd signing) but others seem to find them outside of official meet and greets.  Yet, even that fact does not ever seem to make the discussion threads.  It seems to me that a lot of people hold back this information.  Why?  Why respond in the way that people do?

It seems to me that the most common responses to the “how do people meet the band” threads are either ignoring the thread entirely or to give what seems like partial answers.  For example, you never see someone post, “I know that they always stay at this brand of hotel when they visit such and such a country and they usually show up there about blank time after the show and I recommend you approach this band member in such and such a way…”  Nope.  I don’t see that.  I see people talking about cd signing or finding them outside of the venue right after a show.  Now, those are legitimate ways of meeting them.  Absolutely.  I agree.  Yet, I think that people have met them at hotels or at clubs or somewhere else that I can’t even guess.  So, why don’t people share openly?  My theory has to do with the idea that people don’t want to share.  They might be willing to share with their friends but to share with random posters on a message board or on a social networking site is out of the question.  I suspect that most fans, especially in Durandom, don’t want to share the band with others.  I can understand that.  We all want our time with the guys.  We all want our moments with them and we don’t want others to take that time away from us.  Plus, I think there is always a concern that if too many people show up, that the band will just leave and I wouldn’t even blame them for that.  They deserve their space and their privacy.  Part of my concern is always about whether or not people would be respectful of the band and respectful of their space.  Yet, we never say any of this on those threads. 

Some people don’t respond to the question about where/how to find the band but instead secretly or not-so-secretly mock the person who asked the question.  Why?  I don’t have an answer to that.  Maybe they just like having their secret means of finding out where the band is and would never even consider sharing.  Perhaps, they don’t think that these fans are worthy of having knowledge like this.  Maybe it is a way that they can feel superior.  I don’t know.  I just know that I don’t like that.  I can understand not wanting to share.  I get it.  It might not be a great personality trait but it is one that I think most of us can understand and relate to, to some extent.  But making fun seems just mean-spirited.  Heck, I will admit that I don’t even know if they are intentionally mocking.  It just feels that way to me. 

I wonder if the people who ask the question are aware that no matter the answers there is not full disclosure.  Where the band is seems to be information known by some within the fan community.  It seems to always be treated as a precious secret that should not be shared.  No matter the reason this information is treated in that way, it must create different levels of fans.  Is that a good thing???

-A

It’s Katy Kafe time!!

I think my lucky stars must all be in alignment today…or this week/month, etc.  I probably shouldn’t waste the time to dwell on it too much, but I can’t help but feel like the winds of change have actually turned in MY direction for a brief moment.   It was just announced this morning that  Duran Duran will have special guests Kelis and Mark Ronson with them in LA for the show at The Mayan – and I read from Simon (at least I believe it was Simon – if it was John I sincerely apologize) on twitter that the show that night will be about 2 hours in length.  That is fantastic news for all of the fans!   I am so thrilled to be able to see Mark with the band, and of course knowing that Kelis is going to be there is extra exciting! (have to believe we’ll be seeing Leopard unveiled for the first time that night…)  It’s going to be a long wait until Wednesday evening!

If that all weren’t enough – which I believe it is – there was a Katy Kafe with John Taylor put up on DDM last night.  I just gave it a good listen, and I’m pretty tickled to be able to comment on one of it’s topics in the blog today.  Specifically I would like to focus on John’s thoughts regarding Twitter; primarily because he speaks directly about the connection that fans are making, both with the band (he and Simon) – and one another.

The one sentence that I found to be the most profound in everything that John mentioned on Katy Kafe was that Twitter is really giving the fans the opportunity to be more connected.  That connection gives the fans a sense of unity and power – he couldn’t have been more “right on” had he tried.  I believe that it’s the very reason that fan communities exist and thrive.  Fans strive for that connection.  They want to know they aren’t the only people on the planet that feel that certain way about whatever it is they are fans of.  The need for connection isn’t limited to only music fans – it’s everywhere.  It amplifies the enjoyment someone might receive from going and participating in shows, games, etc.  For example, I’ve always said that while shows were always fun before I really knew people in the community – the very best concerts I’ve been to (specifically in the case of Duran Duran) have been the ones that I’ve attended with friends.  I can’t imagine traveling to the UK alone to see the band, in fact, I don’t think the idea ever even entered my head until I really got involved in the community!   The interesting thing that I think John is missing, through no real fault of his own, is that this FAN connection existed before Twitter, and even before Facebook.  Message boards created that sense of community – and before that there were fanzines and even earlier – fan clubs, to a very limited extent, lit the fire in the bellies of the communities that exist today.  There is however, one real difference between the fan clubs and message boards and Twitter – and that is band involvement.  Sure, the band was somewhat involved with their fan club – they might have signed a welcome letter that was sent to new members.  They might have done an interview or two for a fanzine, or taken special photos that went out to the fan clubs, but all of that was purely static involvement.  Twitter and Facebook are entirely different animals.  They require time, although as John openly states – they shouldn’t be slaves to it.  (I hope they don’t feel as though they are, because that would completely change, if not ruin, the effect it’s having)  They require energy, and to some degree – I really believe they require some caring on the part of the band.  That emotion does make a difference.  Fans can tell when the band isn’t into it, and there’s no bigger turn off than seeing a band member look like he’s just “phoning it in” for the sake of being able to say he was there and did his duty.  When it gets to that point, they ought to just do themselves a favor and take a vacation.   I think the fans have been connected for quite a while now, but having the band take an active interest – seeing that they at least SEEM to want to connect with their fans in return, has made all of the difference.

I know that for me, and I’m just an average fan like anyone else, having the band involved has kind of taken the whole idea of being involved in the community up a notch.  Let’s be honest and fangirl-like for a second here: who amongst us ever thought in our once 12 year old heads that we’d EVER have a chance to really chat with John Taylor?  Who thought that Roger would comment about us BY NAME on his facebook wall or have Simon directly mention us in a tweet reply?   Granted, I’ve never had any of that happen yet – but that’s not really the point.  I’ve seen it happen with other fans.  I see that John takes an interest in what we think.  Simon seems to like getting some of the corniest jokes I’ve ever read from us…and Roger, well, Roger is just as sweet on Facebook as I’d hoped.  (Yeah, he’s still a favorite.  Old habits die hard.  Sue me.)  I don’t even think they have the time to read many of our replies, but the hope probably exists in all of us that at some point, they just might read what we have to say, and will comment back.  Three years ago, the best I could have hoped for was a chance meeting.  Now there are three of the four members actively seeking our involvement.  I don’t know what to say about Nick there, except that I hope at some point he feels comfortable enough to try it out.  Regardless, I have to think back to the days during Astronaut, or even Red Carpet Massacre, where it was clear that there was some discord in the masses (fans).  I think it was then that I started losing my way in the community.  I had friends, I was connected with the people I chose to be connected with, and after that, there just didn’t seem to be much left.  My friends were going to be my friends whether I loved the band and what they were doing or not.  I didn’t feel very attached to the band, and I certainly didn’t love the album enough to feel connected to that either.  The band, to me, felt very unattached to the fans.  It didn’t seem as though they really knew or cared as to what kept us together as a unified group.  It’s not just about the band and whether or not they keep going – it’s about the fans as well.  Personally, I felt so disconnected to the band, I really started questioning whether or not I still belonged in the fan community.  Perhaps I’d really outgrown my place.  I searched for that feeling, that connection – hoping that I’d feel something, ANYTHING.  As my group of friends started to dwindle – people went off in different directions as their lives moved on, I kept up hope.  It very much felt like the fan community was fading, and to be honest – I worried that time was up for the band.  Then the announcements and snippets from the new album started coming out, and then John and Simon got involved on Twitter, and at some point prior – Roger used his Facebook page more effectively.  I can’t say that the change was instant, but it’s obvious that for many fans, including myself, this has made all of the difference.

It’s not just about the music.  After 30 years of involvement with the band, they are a part of our everyday lives in many ways.  We fans feel like we know them (of course in reality we only know who they want us know!), and now it feels as though they are getting to know us in return.  The once “one-way” relationship is now “two-way”.  That, my friends, is the real difference.  What was once purely a connection between fans of a band is now a circle of relationships that includes the band.

It’s refreshing to hear that John has picked up on the importance of the one monumental benefit that Twitter provides, especially for celebrities and bands.  I know that when Twitter first started getting real press, I was very cautious about it’s purpose.  I just didn’t think it was necessary for a fan to know absolutely everything about the celebrity they were choosing to follow – nor did I feel it was that important for me to tweet about going to pick my kids up from school and so forth.  Who cares??  The trick is that it takes only but a tweet or two about things that DO matter in order to spur interest or to create a connection.  Sure, John could have chosen to tweet AT us, never bothering to reply or answer, but he really doesn’t do that.  He tries to bring us along for the ride, so to speak.  Simon, on the other hand – will sit up for hours, braving the Oscars just to tweet with fans.  Granted, he may have told us all to shut up, and he might have even fallen asleep at the computer or even tweeted that poor Kirk Douglas looked like he was talking out of his ears  (gotta love Simon’s tweets…), but he was at least trying.  Let’s face it – we fans are tough to handle at times.

I know plenty of people in the community that won’t agree with that statement.  They’ll say that the fans don’t matter, that we’re a dime a dozen, and that the band would keep going whether we’re here or not.  I call foul.  The fans DO matter, and while I’m not saying we call the shots (Not in the least, nor should we.) – my assertion is that without the fans, the band would have no real purpose, and without the band, well, there really wouldn’t be a fan base.  It’s a two way street, and in reality it’s really much more than that.  We need each other to thrive as a community.

-R

Chats with Band Members

Twitter and facebook have been incredibly crazy places to be lately!  As Rhonda mentioned in a post a few days ago, these sites, particularly twitter, have begun to feel like the old days of message boards where there are a ton of people on, day and night, and that it is VERY challenging to keep up.  In fact, the only way to really do that is to stay signed in at all times.  Why is this?  Well, first, everyone has discovered that everyone else is there.  It is the place to be.  Like the message boards, it is the place to exchange ideas about the band and meet people.  Second, and more interestingly, it is the place where the band members have been interacting with us fans.  It seems that John has been holding a daily chat session with fans where they ask questions and he answers as many as he can.  During those sessions, the fans are not only trying to get their questions answered but also chatting with others about what he said or about the questions asked.  After he leaves, there continues to be some flurry of activity as people react to what they saw/read, publicly, and some behind-the-scenes commenting as well.  A couple of days ago, Rhonda tweeted something about how this was just like being at a bar or club after a show.  Now, I’m not sure how many of our readers have experienced being at a bar or club after a show with a bunch of Duranies and a band member or two but it is quite something and, in many ways, the social interactions are playing out in the same way here in cyberspace as they do in real life.

On the surface level, fans have expressed their joy and excitement over being able to chat with John or Simon.  They get to share this excitement with others who feel the same way.  For some people, this thrill is shared among friends and for others, it is a way of getting to know and becoming friends with other fans.  On this level, everything seems very positive.  No one is being negative about the questions asked (at least not among our followers and the people who follow us) and everyone seems genuinely happy for the people who get their questions answered.  Yet, I worry that this positivity won’t stay or that there is more going on underneath the surface.  For example, are Duranies talking about other Duranies behind the backs, based on their reactions, their questions, or their level of excitement?  I suspect that there are.  Are people paying attention to whose questions are getting answered and whose aren’t?  I bet they are and I bet that some people might be feeling REALLY good about themselves if John has answered multiple questions from them.  They might even be feeling a bit superior because of it.  (Note:  I don’t know this, for sure, but I just saying that it might be a possibility.)  Then, there is the actual interaction between the fans and the band members.

In real life, I find being in the same location as the band and the fans to be fascinating.  At times, I have felt like everyone has been really respectful of each other and the band members.  At other times, I have felt this sort of dog-eat-dog mentality where some fans just push other fans out of the way in order to get more time with the guys.  I have seen people give Nick or Roger or whomever their space and I have seen other times when they did not appear to have much, if any.  Do I know if this bothers them?  Nope.  I don’t.  I am just saying that I have observed a spectrum of behavior.  I am wondering if I am not seeing similar types of behavior taking place online.  Are some fans trying to get as much time as possible with the guys?  Sure.  Am I blaming them?  Not really.  I understand that desire because I have it, too.  Do I think they are trying to push other fans out of their way?  I don’t really know.  It is possible, I guess.  Even if they are, is it malicious?  Maybe, for some, but, I doubt it.  Nonetheless, I am concerned.

I, like every Duran fan who has been witnessing or participating in these little chats via twitter, want them to continue.  I LOVE being able to ask John or Simon questions and have them respond.  I LOVE that they seem to care about what we think and want to interact with us.  That said, I want to keep it positive, for all of us fans and for the band.  I don’t want this to turn into a means of gaining status within the community.  I also want us fans to always be respectful and considerate of each other and of them.  We need to remember to share and to give space.  Then, I think it can remain as fun and as exciting as it has been so far!  If not, I fear that they won’t last.  Some fans will stop logging in and participating and maybe the band will stop as well.  If so, that would hurt all of us. 

-A

Duranie Smackdown

The Duranie Smackdown began a couple of days ago on Facebook.  It started innocently enough with a friend of mine saying that she had been “rockin'” out to AYNIN on her status.  My plan was to comment with a simple statement of support but before I could even do that, I noticed that another person had made a comment wondering if the band could “sing on key” or “play their instruments”.  How could I let that go?  I couldn’t and responded with a positive comment to my friend who was enjoying the album and another comment about how Duran had written and performed their own songs very well for over 30 years.  Now, the other person could have just left it at that, especially if she didn’t want a debate, a battle, a lively discussion.  She didn’t.  She followed up her first comment with another one about how Robert Palmer could sing on key but that Simon “always had a pitch problem”.  As for the rest of the band, she said that when she saw them live in 1984, they were definitely still learning their instruments and that she had more musical skills than them!  Insert lots of eye-rolling here.

So, I took on the job of educating her.  I explained to her that Robert Palmer was the lead singer of Power Station only.  I gave her some facts about how Duran have sold a ton of albums and have received lifetime achievement awards.  Her response was that the Reflex was off key and that I shouldn’t use their album sales as a means to show their talent because, according to her, Vanilla Ice had sold a lot, too.  Oh boy.  More eye-rolling.  She ended that comment with a statement about how she isn’t the only person to think this way.  Great, is she trying to say that she is a critic now?  Whatever.  I, of course, informed her of what I think the issue was with the critics in that they never gave any respect to Duran because GIRLS liked them.  She returned to make more comments, including that anyone who doesn’t hear that Simon is off key should go to the ear doctor and that I had provided her with lots of laughs.  That did it.  I calmly explained to her that it is fine to have a difference of opinion about music since like all art, it is subjective but that there was NO reason for her to be insulting.  Here’s where my friend and fellow Duranie (not the person rockin’ out to AYNIN) enters the picture.

My friend came in to be supportive and because she, too, thought that this person had gone too far.  She pointed out to the hater that there are things that she likes that her friends would think are horrible, too, but that they probably wouldn’t insult her about it on Facebook.  Of course, this person turned the situation around to where she was the victim as she said that my friend “baited” her and that we took it to a low level.  She claimed that she was just trying to have some witty banter but that we probably aren’t capable of that.  (My eyes were rolling around so much that I’m surprised they didn’t fall out!)  I couldn’t let that slide, either, and commented that she would have been more mature to have just said that she apologized for insulting us. 

So, what is the point of me sharing this story?  First, it reminds me so much of what elementary school felt like.  I will never forget sitting at lunch and debating who was better:  Duran Duran or Michael Jackson.  I was always on the losing side of that battle as there were a ton more Michael Jackson fans than Duranies where I grew up.  I can recall trying to explain to my classmates that Band-Aid came out first and was better than USA for Africa who just copied Band-Aid on the cause.  These classmates of mine didn’t want to hear any of the facts.  They couldn’t just accept that we had different taste when it came to music as it almost always went to the fact that Duran were “sissy like”.  (I usually argued at lunch with boys, by the way.)  This conversation felt just like I had gone back in time.  Of course, the really sad part is that this person is a grown woman.  My classmates had an excuse–they were just kids. 

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t criticize Duran Duran as a whole or Simon, specifically.  The world knows that I love to give Simon a hard time as much as possible.  That said, I always do it from a place of love.  I know that they are capable for greatness so when they fail to reach that, I’m disappointed and I say so.  Now, this person doesn’t get that right.  She isn’t a Duranie.  She isn’t saying those things to give Simon a hard time.  Nope.  She is saying them to be mean—to the band and to their fans.  What does this say about me as a Duranie?  It says that I will ALWAYS defend them to the non-Duranie even if it is about things I disagree with.  I would argue that RCM was a fabulous album with a non-Duranie, for example.  I think that part of being a serious fan is about being passionate about something.  I’m passionate about Duran.  This passion can form into loving criticism with other Duranies or into fierce protection with non-Duranies.  That’s how it always has been and always will be.  

-A

How To Breathe Life Back into a Fanbase

You begin by planting tiny seeds…a hint of Rio here, a little talk of a new video there, teasing by way of playing 30 second snippets here, and Mark Ronson proclaiming his love for the band there….next thing you know you’ve got Simon LeBon tweeting away, and John Taylor on Facebook and actively tweeting (which I still say is either a miracle or a sign that the apocalypse is coming!)…and finally, last night – they all blew our minds by releasing what I think is ultimately going to end up being one of the benchmark albums of their career.

We wanted that classic Duran Duran sound?  We wanted them to have fun making music again?  We wanted the music to have integrity and be REAL?  How does it feel to have the band come through for us?  From my seat – it’s amazing.  I am loving this ride and hope it continues for a long time to come.

Last night, I downloaded the album at 9:18 pm PST.  A bit early, yes.  It was to be released at midnight, I believe – but I also believe in getting places early rather than just on time.  Allows for more time to celebrate once you’re there, and I swear that’s about all of I’ve done since I first listened.  The fact is, and I don’t mind saying this here now:  I’ve had the album, rather a crappy sounding version of it, for a week or two now.  I’d heard it all well before last night, and I had a very tough time not talking all about it here, and yes – I even acted as though I hadn’t heard it at all.   I’m good like that.  The fact is, while I’d heard a version of it and nearly wet myself listening the first time, I knew that once I’d downloaded it from iTunes – it would be even better.   It did not disappoint.  I can’t even tell you how much better the released version truly is (it’s the bit rate…makes all the difference!).    This blog isn’t a review of the album though (that will come in due time – I want to sit with it and ponder it before tackling each song), this blog is about us.  The fans.

In the past several weeks I have had the privilege of seeing the fanbase going from being very quiet and almost non-existent to exuberant.  Boards that have not had traffic in weeks are suddenly springing back to live as though they’ve been mainlined with coffee.  (as I have today.  Well, not really, but the coffee maker and I are very good friends.)  What I once felt was most assuredly a castaway ship in the middle of nowhere – bailing water fast – now seems to have found some wind and is setting sail.

All the band had to do was put out a good album?  I don’t think so.  I mean yes – I don’t want to take that away from them because they definitely have done their job and done it well, but the fact is, it’s not just the music.  I’m sure the band would LOVE for it to be just about the music at this point, but it’s not.  In 1985 it wasn’t just about the music.  Their videos really helped to set the world on fire.  It’s now 2010 (who’s counting?!) and once again – it’s not just the music.  I think the band may have found the vital piece to the puzzle they’ve been missing all along – and that’s the connection to their fan base.  I realize that some might not see it that way, but here’s the reality:  this album could have just as easily been released 6 months ago (I realize some of the songs hadn’t been written yet – but that’s not the point).  They could have come out, said the album was coming out and handled the release in very much the same way as they did Astronaut or even RCM.  Their core fan base would have bought the album, and then it would have been done.  Then what?  They’d tour, etc. etc.   Same results.  Yeah, more people may have bought this album because it’s a product that is truer, more authentic, to the Duran Duran “brand”, so to speak….but I don’t believe it would have made the same splash/ripple effect that it’s making today.  Why is that?  SOCIAL NETWORKING.  We’ve got John Taylor – the man who said he wouldn’t tweet – on Twitter.  He’s talking to fans, he’s posting news tidbits, he’s on FACEBOOK for crying out loud.  I’m even “friends” with him.  He commented on a friends wall just today!    It’s a lot harder to ignore Duran Duran when you’ve got John Taylor talking to you and trying his best to keep that connection flowing between the band and the fans, don’t you think?

I’m just a fan like anyone else.  I write a blog, I notice the social implications of things, I like studying pop culture – but I’m still a fan.  I feel a lot closer to the band today than I did a year ago – I’ll tell you that.  I think the band actually cares.  It’s a lot tougher to say that the band is only interested in our money when they seem to be genuinely concerned about what we think.  I know that back just a few short years ago, I was starting to question my own fandom and what it really meant.  It’s hard not to question it at times when you hear all about how other bands come out after shows and talk to fans, or offer REAL meet and greets to their VIP’s where the band members take the time for individual photos and don’t act like the fans are totally bothering them by being there.  As much as I know the shows and dealing with the fans are a job for them just like changing my daughters diaper is for me (hmm…somehow, I just don’t think it’s quite the same….), when you’re the fan and you’re standing there listening to a band member tell someone that they don’t have to be out talking to the fans when they can be in a private room in peace, or that they get sick of playing the same songs every night – it becomes a lot tougher to feel like the band even wants you there.  Then again, maybe they didn’t at the time.  Regardless, this newer, friendlier, more approachable Duran Duran is a welcome change, and I think they’re about to recognize the fruits of their labor.

So today, on this day of their 13th official release, we are STILL the ones who make the noise, aren’t we?  Thirty years and the fans are still going strong.  Now if that’s not something to embrace, celebrate….and a reason to travel to the UK to continue to celebrate and embrace….I just don’t know what is.

Welcome back Duranies.  Welcome home.

-R

Never say Never!

So, the past 24 hours have been crazy.  CRAZY.  Let me indulge you in a bit of the glamorous life of Rhonda… my husband (and if you’re reading this Walt, I’m ready for you to come home.  Now.  Thank you.) is in China.  Or Taiwan.  Or maybe somewhere else in Asia today.  I don’t even KNOW what the day is there.  Regardless, he’s not at home.  This is the week before my kids are out on holiday break, and as a result – every single teacher thinks it’s OK to pile on 40,000 projects that were all due this morning in the case of my son, and in the case of my daughter – she is a dancer at OCHSA (Orange County High School of the Arts) and this is performance week.  The school is about 20 miles from home and guess who is driving her back and forth to school, then to the theater which is another 20 miles in the other direction from home.  Today I was up at 6am, ready to begin driving at 6:45.  The youngest was not happy to be up an hour earlier than normal, but then, neither was mom.  😀  I figure I’ll finally be done with my own chauffeuring duties by about 10pm tonight, which means both mom and little one will be getting to bed way later than normal only to start over tomorrow bright and early at 6am again. We make due, right?  I rush the oldest, along with every bit of stage makeup and costuming she needs to school (I won’t see her again until after 9pm tonight), get back home by 8:10 to make sure the boy is up and gets off to school. That’s when I take a brief second to check facebook, only to see that my sister has sent me a note because she noticed that John Taylor, of all the people on the planet, is now my “friend”.   She has to give me a rough time about that because clearly my sister (5 years younger but who is really counting?), thinks it’s hilarious.  I think it’s a sign of the world coming to a swift end – because seriously who would have ever thought that John would have a facebook and actually chat up fans?!?  (kidding John. It’s your turn for some teasing here.)  So, as I’m typing a quick witted response back to my sister, my son pokes me and says “I hate to break into your little Duran interlude here Mom, since you’re clearly conquering the planet of Duranie now that you’re facebook buddies with John Taylor or whatever that bass player’s name is, but it’s time for me to go to school and you have to carry my adobe brick!”  With that, he thrusts a cookie sheet into my arms, upon which sits the most massive clay brick I’ve ever seen.  The damn thing must weigh 25 pounds.  (thanks for making that brick with him, Walt!)

What’s the moral here?  Just when you think the day is going well – you end up with a huge weight thrown at ya. Trust me, nothing brings you back down to Planet Earth (pun is TOTALLY intended.  This is the Daily Duranie blog – of course it’s intended!!) faster than your kid shoving a brick into your arms.  😀    He’d better get an A on that damn thing, that’s all I have to say!

So, have any of you friended John Taylor on facebook or started following him on Twitter yet??   Pretty crazy cool stuff going on there.  I don’t mind mentioning that just a year ago, give or take a month or two – I sat and listened to him at the internet conference at UCLA (actually I was at home, but I still listened!).   He spoke very eloquently about how much things have changed in the music industry since the internet began.  This is true, and I don’t think there’s a fan out there that hasn’t noticed obvious differences.  The sheer amount of information that can be gained just from a mouse click is overwhelming.  There is very little that a celebrity can do that isn’t broadcast widely online, and I have to admit that there’s a certain amount of mystery that has been lost due to all of this fantastic social networking.  It’s much harder to keep an idol on that proverbial pedestal.  I find that my oldest doesn’t tend to follow one person or one band like I did (er…do?), and this is partially because of the fact that so much information is out there, she finds out things that she doesn’t like about whomever it is that is the favorite this week – and unceremoniously moves on to whomever she loves next.   For my generation, it wasn’t like that.  Hell, I remember the first time I heard that the band loved cocaine…I was shocked!  (yeah, I was pretty naive as a kid.  Sue me.)  Nowadays I would imagine I would have found that out far earlier than I did as a teenager.   John also spoke of how there is a loss of anticipation and desire when everything is so readily available through the internet.  He used the example of going to see a band (I think he used The Clash as the example, but if I’m wrong don’t send hate mail!), and feeling that connection that we’re all used to feeling at a show – and the only way he could recreate that connection was by going out the next day and buying an album.  Today, we don’t necessarily have to do that…and with twitter and facebook, it’s probably not necessary at all.  Does that translate to lower album sales though?  Hmm..    The point being that while the internet has opened huge doors and made our world a lot smaller today than it ever was when I was growing up, it has also permanently changed the entertainment industry, and not necessarily for the better.

Fast forward to yesterday when John finally caved and started a twitter account, or a week earlier (?) when he started his facebook page.  What changed?   Well, I can’t say – I’m not John Taylor, and I haven’t had the luck of sitting down for a chat over a cup of coffee with him, otherwise I’d ask. (I’m American.  Coffee is where it’s at!)  I do know from the experience I’ve had working with some other bands over the years – none having the stature or history of Duran Duran – that young fans insist on the connection that’s made through social networking.      Video doesn’t cut it anymore, and apparently neither does print and tv media.  I would venture to guess that in just the same way he realized that video was the way to connect to fans back in the mid-80’s, he’s realizing that spending a little (or a lot) of time on facebook and twitter is going to do the same today.  I don’t think it’s sticking my own neck out to say that facebook and twitter is only as intrusive as the account owner allows.  No one is forcing anyone else to tweet about every moment of their lives, or to put anything out there that they don’t want out.  I know this is difficult to imagine, but even little ole me – someone who is not a celebrity nor a “wanna be” celebrity keeps the private things private, so I would expect the same from John Taylor, Simon LeBon….or even Nick and Roger if we can ever get them tweeting.  😀

I’m happy to see the band getting involved with the fans after all of this time.  For the past few years, I have been openly suggesting that they are missing the boat with regard to social media.  I don’t know if the original intention of the band or their management, PR, etc. was to create a demand in the fans by making sure the band was always just out of reach – but the intimation was always present.  The one complaint I heard over and over during Astronaut and then especially after the epic fail of Red Carpet Massacre (sorry guys, I write it as I see it from the fans point of view as a whole),  was that the band still felt they were above all of us (the fans), even though clearly at that point – it’s not 1985 anymore and they aren’t on top of the world anymore, much less playing for stadium filled crowds of 50,000.  Of course I write that, then think back to stories I’d heard and witnessed during the tours of Astronaut…we might be a smaller fan base, but we still make the noise, don’t we? The bottom line here is that I think that by giving the indication that they aren’t too good to chat it up with the fans, they’re going to be doing themselves a world of good in the long run.  I don’t really know if the band realizes just how many fans they may have lost over the course of the last 10 years JUST because they gave the impression that they didn’t care about their fans, only their bank accounts.  That might not have been what they intended at all, but unfortunately – that’s what was communicated on many different levels, whether by the band themselves, or their management simply by NOT communicating.  Hello 2010.  

This is the dawn of a new beginning where I hope that by making the effort to reach out to the community, we can make the same effort towards the band by not acting like complete idiots when we see them.  ……  Before you rush John, Roger, Nick or Simon after the next show, take a deep breath, remember that we’re not 12 anymore and that if you act like an ass, THAT is what is going to be remembered.  Not the fact that you own 12 drumsticks or have pictures with every single band member.  Hell, I still don’t have pictures with ANY band member!  😀

Hey, dreams are free, right?  😉   And anytime one of those band members wants to sit down over a beer, glass of wine or a cup of coffee and chat….let me know, I’m here!

-R