I’ve often wondered what it must be like for fans in other parts of the world. Granted, I live in the United States, and as it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – we do get plenty of shows here. No argument from me on that point. I have no trouble maintaining my loyalty for the band because we do get plenty of attention from them, and when they tour, the only real questions are when they will be coming and how long they will be here. In other places of the world, they begin with the question of whether or not they’ll be coming at all.
I’ve wondered if joining the paid fan community in places outside of the UK or US (and perhaps Europe) is even worth the money. It’s well-known and understood that the community really offers very, very little in the way of “exclusives”, so the only value is in the presale tickets and the VIP packages that may be offered. Sure, there is a fan forum on the website, Katy Kafe, and a handful of other things that can readily be found on YouTube, but aside from those things, there is very little use to being “in the club”. It certainly does not feel exclusive, nor does it treat the members as though they are special to the band, which in this writers opinion is essential to the success of a pay-to-join fan community such as DDM.
This is why I was incredibly curious to see whether or not VIP packages, such as those that are regularly offered in both the US and UK, would be offered in South America. There are fans from South America that have paid to be included in the fan community, so surely something would be in fact offered, yes? Actually, no. No there will not be VIP packages offered for those dates. Aside from presale tickets, there is nothing “exclusive” or “special” being offered in countries that can rarely take advantage of any other wonderful item that is offered currently through DDM. Honestly, this should be an outrage to those South American fans, if not the rest of us, because while nothing of the sort is being offered to them through their own fan community, one can almost bet local radio stations or the like will have contests and opportunities for other fans, who may or may not be nearly as loyal, will have the opportunity for meet and greets, early entry for the standing section at the front of the venue closest to the stage, among other things. Is this really fair or an appropriate way to treat fans?
On one hand, I can see the point of DDM. I am sure that while there are some fans from South America that populate the membership of DDM, it’s at least possible that they don’t quite match the number of those from the US or the UK. In order to effectively offer VIP packages, they probably need to be able to give the promoter firm numbers that surpass what they can “promise”. I can give DDM the benefit of the doubt on that count. That said, I find it difficult to believe that there is no way they can offer early entry to fans who have (and will) buy tickets in the standing section closest to the stage. I know bands with far, far less of a devoted following that are able to offer such things without much of a problem in South America as well as other parts of the world.
One really cannot argue that DDM was at least originally intended (or sold to them) to be a cash cow for the band, (whether or not they are actually seeing that money is beyond the scope of this particular blog) but that point comes through loud and clear. There is little intention to make the fans feel as though they are part of a special group or that they are getting access to the band that the general public would not have. Emphasis is on becoming a “VIP” member with very little offered for the additional cost in membership besides a few trinket type items at this point. In most cases, if not all, meet and greets weren’t even offered on the US tour (the argument isn’t about whether or not meet and greets are worth the VIP ticket price here – that’s another issue for another blog), so I have to ask – what was the point beyond an inflated ticket price and a couple of merchandise offerings? In the case of fans from other parts of the world besides the US and the UK, that cash cow point is in bold face type, since they can rarely take advantage of nearly anything else that the club has to offer. Does membership really have any advantage?
I am sure that I will hear from at least one US fan that will gleefully tell me that they’ve been a DDM member since the very beginning because the presales are worth “the small price of membership”. Sure, it’s not an astronomical cost to join DDM, but as long as people continue to pay – there is absolutely no motivation to change what members complain about on a daily basis. Personally I feel that the DDM loyalty is completely misplaced.
Ultimately, the point of a paid fan community is getting lost in the translation, especially for those fans in places where VIP packages of any type aren’t even being offered. If that were the only problem with DDM, it might be overlooked, but that is only the beginning. Fans have been screaming of the obvious, glaring issues from its inception. Surveys have been filled out and returned, with only very select and small problems being addressed and changed (and its important to note that the changes have not necessarily been in the best interest of the fans by any means). In this day and age where Direct to Fan marketing is being heralded as the “new model” for the industry, I have to ask where the intelligence is in simply ignoring the requests of entire fan bases, such as the one in South America where fans are begging for their chance to enjoy a Duran Duran concert in VIP style. At the very least – offer up some early entry for these loyal fans!
DDM has cited membership numbers, market demand and promoters as reasons behind the decisions to offer or not offer VIP packages. Here is what I know for certain: if packages are not offered, and the “exclusivity” of being a fan club member doesn’t exist – membership numbers most definitely won’t rise on their own just due to a great album or a wonderful tour. Try again, Duran Duran. The one very small sales tactic that Duran Duran and their management continue to forget is that sometimes in order to have GAIN, you actually have to GIVE. Its simply not enough to put out a great record, announce some concert dates and sit back to wait.