Category Archives: VIP

Duran Does It Better!

Over the years, Rhonda and I have written many, many blogs covering Duran Duran presales, concert tickets and VIP packages.  In some (okay..maybe…many cases), these posts have been critical of some aspect of Duran Duran concert buying details.  Likewise, many fans have also expressed frustration over the process during the last ten years or so.  I remember a LOT of complaining (with good reason) about the use of Ticketmaster, for example.  Ticket prices have also been a big discussion over the years as have VIP packages and what they include.  Many Duranies express frustration that meet and greets are no longer a part of any VIP package.  Others wish that they got more for the money, in terms of either merchandise or parties or whatnot.

Usually, when the topic of fan clubs and presales happen in the world of social media, I hear fans discuss how this band or that band does it better because…These fans offer alternative methods to how Duran sells their concert tickets.  As time has gone by and ticket prices continued to increase, I had to wonder if these fans weren’t right.  Maybe Duran Duran needs to learn from other bands?!  Then, this week forced me to rethink this.

Rhonda blogged earlier this week about Depeche Mode’s method of presales where fans chose their city to buy tickets for and move up in line based on how many albums they purchase, how often they post on social media, etc.  She expressed extremely valid concerns about this system.  I agreed with many of her points but still planned on participating in the presale.  Depeche is one of my favorite bands and I always try to see them when I can.  That said, I don’t travel to see them so the idea of picking one city worked for me.  I did not do much else to improve my spot in line.  I purchased one album and that was it.  My schedule did not allow for more, even if I had wanted to do more.

Soon enough, the presale date rolled around and I found out that I was in the second group.  Okay.  I could live with that.  The presale time came around and I was prepared to buy ticket for a few friends and myself.  I asked for the 4 tickets and I got somewhere around the 20th row.  The ticket price?  With fees, they ran about $175.  Uh.  No thanks.  I do not mind spending money for concert tickets (that’s pretty obvious with Duran, right?).  I do have a problem of spending a lot of money for not great seats.  I thought I could do better.  Later in the day, when I had a bit more time, I decided to search on the map to see what was still available for the fan presale and for how much.

I’m posting the map here to explain what I discovered:

First, let me tell that I have seen Depeche Mode here (Chicago) many times.  Most recently, I had row M in section 104 back in 2013.  Those seats cost $119.  This time, I found that row M in section 103 was a VIP seat.  In fact, row MM in section 204 was also considered VIP.  How much are those VIP tickets and what do fans get for them?

***FRONT ROW PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Front Row reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***HOSPITALITY PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***GOLD HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 

***SILVER HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) premium Price Level 2 reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening

Right away, I noticed that none of these VIP packages include meet and greets.  I also realized that most of them do not describe what a premium seat means.  I think back to Duran’s VIP packages during this Paper Gods tour and I know that Ultimate had front row.  Gold packages included seats in rows 2 through 6.  DDHQ made it clear where the seats could be, at least in terms of rows.  Depeche doesn’t give any information.  Now, how much are these?  Some of the seats I found were:  Section 103 Row M for $585, Section 102 Row A for $950, Section 204 Row MM for $300.  Wow.  Yesterday, I saw prices for the Hollywood Bowl.  Prices for the front sections there ranged from $865 to $1495 through Ticketmaster.  These are not prices through a ticket broker.

Now, I’m sure that some of you are saying that Duran tickets are expensive.  Sure, they are.  The tickets for next weekend, for example, cost about $350 for second row center with some merchandise.  The Hollywood Bowl show cost $445 for us in October of 2015.  This price included second row center seats, merchandise and a party.  Depeche is clearly charging twice that for their packages there.

After seeing all of this, I have to admit that I’m glad that *my* favorite band is not Depeche Mode.  I couldn’t afford to go to many shows, especially VIP, that’s for sure.  The presale process would already limit where to get tickets and the price guarantees that it is just one city.  Perhaps, their team assumes that fans are only going to one show so maybe they will go all out for that one concert, in terms of tickets.  I don’t know.

Later this morning, I will attempt again to get tickets through the public sale.  I will not be buying VIP tickets, but I will try to get the best tickets I can for a price I can feel comfortable with.  Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to see Depeche up close.  This little experience taught me that Duran does the whole concert ticket thing pretty well, in comparison.  Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say.  Duran does it better.

-A

Shouldn’t VIP seats be great?

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a photo Amanda took the first night.

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

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

seating chart for MGM

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

Shouldn’t VIP seats be, well….great?

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

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

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

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

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

-R

Perfect Day – 4 November 2013 The MoMA VIP Experience

Bet you didn’t think we were gonna cover it, did ya???  Well…obviously Amanda and I couldn’t cover the MoMA event, as neither of us were there…but we had a couple “Special Daily Duranie Contributers” at the event that were more than happy to share their experiences with us, and the first of which appears just below.  Enjoy! (and go ahead and be envious…we certainly are!!)  – R

By MichDuran

First, thank you to Rhonda and Amanda for giving me the opportunity to write this blog.
Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several exclusive Duran Duran fan events- I purchased VIP tickets, won radio contests, and was invited to be a guest for a Meet & Greet. Like many other Duran Duran fans, I’ve learned that having high expectations for these special occasions can lead to disappointment. How many times have we heard fans complain that a band member wasn’t in a good mood during a meet and greet or that the events started late, fans were rushed, and in general, things never measured up to what was advertised? Well, I’m ecstatic to report that last night, the American Express VIP Reception exceeded every expectation! From start to finish, the night was pure perfection.  
I know there was controversy over this event from the time the band posted the links for it on their social media pages. Links for the ticket sales didn’t work and emails from DDM announcing the sale were received hours after the near instant sell out. Some fans voiced concerns that “real” Duranies weren’t able to get tickets. However, I saw plenty of familiar faces on Monday night. There were probably no more than seventy five fans at the event and people came from everywhere – California, Washington State, Texas, and up and down the East Coast. It’s no wonder this event sold out instantly, at only fifty dollars a ticket and no other concerts or shows the past year, hard-core Duranies had tour money to burn.    
The night began at the serendipitously named Il Gattopardo restaurant. Gattopardo means Leopard in Italian. Not only was the restaurant perfectly named, but it was also located almost across the street from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Nick himself couldn’t have planned it better. As soon as we checked in, we knew this event was in a different stratosphere from past official Duran Duran fan events. Once receiving our requisite wristbands, we were immediately ushered into a private function room. The space, which was in the basement of the restaurant, featured a mix of high tables and low tables, some of which had reserved signs (more on those later). As you approached the tables, you looked up and discovered that the basement room opened and you were actually standing in a majestic skylight enclosed area between two tall buildings. Throughout the room, white jacketed waiters offered glasses of wine and champagne. If that wasn’t to your liking, there were two full bars with staff ready to mix whatever drink you’d like. Other white jacketed waiters circulated the room with a variety of canapés, some meat, some vegetarian, and even a mushroom risotto, all of the dishes I tried were delicious and filling. By the way, I did mention the open bar, right?  
As I said, my friends and I have been to VIP events before and like most Duran Duran fans, we’re used to the concept of Durantime. The reception was to be held from 5:30-7:15 pm. I had taken bets with my friends on what time we thought the band would show. We guessed times ranging from 6:25-6:45 pm and we expected that they would stay for about twenty minutes, line us up for group pictures, then be on their way. I‘ve never been happier to be completely wrong! Around 5:45, Wendy Laister, the band’s manager and of course, Nick’s cousin (you all knew that already) announced that the band would be arriving shortly. She asked that we remained where we were so that they could come to us. There were four professional photographers in the room who would take photos. There would also be members of the Duran team that could take photos with our own cameras. She requested that we not ask the band to sign autographs or to monopolize them by taking multiple pictures with our own cameras. 
Rumbles that John had arrived began around 6 pm. I spotted him shortly after that and soon we saw Nick, resplendent in his tuxedo with black feathered bowtie making his way around the room. Roger and Simon were also present. Each band member had a member of the Duran team nearby but there wasn’t a security person like Dave Casillas. What happened next was pure magic. The band spent the next hour and a half working the room. They began in different corners and spoke with every fan, posing for pictures with anyone who wanted them. This was what fans have wanted for years. Fans’ faces reflected the joy of the moment. This was the type of true VIP experience that Duranies have dreamed about.   While there were definitely waves of people centering around the band members, I don’t think anyone overstepped their boundaries. Fans were respectful and waited for their turn because we knew it would happen. There wasn’t that desperate feeling that if we don’t get up there, we’ll miss our chance. Yes, they were moving around the room, but you just had to say their names, and they would turn to you, smile and suddenly, you had your moment. The Duran support team were there in case a little more organization was needed, letting fans know “o.k. you’re next to get a picture with Simon.” but it was never chaotic and fans felt they were being helped, not hindered by Duran’s staff. 
As for the band members, they were truly rock stars. All were gracious. They smiled  and they were happy to answer questions. As the night wore on, they continued to greet fans and make sure that the entire room was covered. While they made their fans happy, Nick’s girlfriend, Nefer, and John’s family including his wife Gela and daughter Atlanta watched this all unfold from those reserved tables. Some fans did approach the tables and all those asked kindly posed for pictures as well. This was remarkably different from the stories I’ve heard in the past when John and Gela tried to dance at a club after one of the Las Vegas shows and fans were overwhelming. This time, while fans were ecstatic, they were never too intrusive. I think in part, it’s because we knew the band was being open and inclusive and we never felt that fear of missing out that often surrounds those moments when fans and band are in the same space. 
I asked more than one person in attendance and they all agreed this was the best fan event they’d ever attended. Fans spoke of how they’d waited thirty years to have that special moment with their favorite band members and how this was a night they’d never forget.   Smiles beamed in every direction. My own face hurt from smiling so much.   
Now for the good stuff: info about album #14. During the Q&A, someone had asked about the album and Simon quipped that it would be done when it was finished. Well earlier, I was there when a friend asked Nick and he believes the album will be out by the end of May, that’s what they’re aiming for. As for what this next project will sound like, Nick said this album is different from AYNIN. It’s more dance oriented, and while there is guitar, it’s less prominent than on the previous record. The band does intend to tour once the album is released, which they’ve stated several times recently. Hopefully there’ll be a tour to look forward to this time next year! I have no idea if the AMEX VIP Reception will be a blueprint for future events, but its success last night proves that the band can do these type of events and that they can be affordable for fans. No, we didn’t get a tee-shirt or a laminate but we got something so much more important. I have no idea if the band enjoyed the experience but it was clear in the faces and words of every fan there last night, that it would be remembered as one of the best nights in these fans’ lives.   

MichDuran’s history as a Duran Duran fan can be summed up as follows: Duranie since ’83, John Girl, DDM’s Michduran, COTBG #171, Duran Trivia Snob, and New England Leopard Lady. She is lucky to have met the best group of fans and friends in the world and she is so glad most of them were with her on Monday night. Her ultimate Duranie dream is to see the band live in their hometown of Birmingham. If she ever wins the lottery, there will be a private concert in her new beach front back yard, admittance depends on knowing the correct name of the instrument Simon plays during The Chauffeur. This blog is dedicated to Susan Grace, our Duranie angel up above.

I Won’t Turn You Out if You’ve Got Someone Else

I have a notebook of blog topics that I keep handy as I never know when an idea, a topic might hit me.  Of course, I don’t necessarily know when I might write about these topics as I will gladly move the more general, can talk about anytime topics out of the way for news or, at least, something new.  This weekend, I had hoped to talk about the packaging in the TV Mania vinyl that US fans who ordered it are now starting to receive.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  Why?  My vinyl arrived.  Unfortunately, big time, I am missing the booklet that is supposed to be included.  To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement.  Rhonda tells me that this booklet is a must have.  I’m sure.  I emailed Vinyl Factory and hope that they can just send me a booklet.  If they can, it will still take awhile to get to me.  🙁 

As I thought about this last night, it dawned on me why this happened.  It is karma.  It is psychic ability.  It is some supernatural power that Vinyl Factory or Nick or someone has.  What sin have I committed?  What crime have I done to warrant such a thing?  What stupid loser move did I make?  It is simple.  I cheated.  I have cheated on Duran.  How did I do this?  It is simple.  I bought concert tickets to see some other band!  Oh my gosh!  The horror!!!  It’s true.  I did.  I’m confessing.  I bought tickets this week to see Depeche Mode in August in Chicago.  Now, I’m sure it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but…Depeche hasn’t just been any old band for me.  They have a special place in my heart.  You see they were the first band that I saw in concert.  There, of course, is a reason for that.  As soon as I became a Duranie and saw Sing Blue Silver, I wanted to go to a concert.  Yet, I didn’t know about Duran’s 1984 tour as that it is just when I was becoming a fan.  By 1987, for the next Duran tour, I had moved further away from Chicago and knew that there was no way that my parents would drive me hours to go to a concert.  Plus, there was no way that they were going to let their 12 year old go to a concert by herself and they didn’t want to go with.  Nope.  I had to wait until I was old enough to go to a show by myself.  I was declared old enough by 1990 when I had turned 15.  Duran definitely wasn’t touring then but Depeche was.  I did what any inexperienced concert goer did in 1990 to secure tickets.  I called Ticketmaster when the tickets went on sale.  After calling for hours and getting nothing but busy signals, I got lawn seats for myself and two of my friends as every other ticket was sold.  The plan had been made.  My mother would drive us and drop us off.  Then, we would meet up with my mom’s friend’s son who was also at the show.  He would drive us back.  The venue for this first concert ever was also the first venue I saw Duran play in 1993.  Anyway, when I saw the Depeche dates for this summer/fall, I knew that I wanted to go, especially since they were returning that ever-important venue for me on a Saturday night.  Perfect.

Now, of course, I’m a much more experienced concert ticket buyer and goer.  Heck, sometimes, I think Rhonda and I should write a book about what we learned from being Duran fans.  One whole chapter would be devoted to presales, concert tickets, concert venues, etc.  When I was younger and inexperienced, I would just figure out the time the tickets would go sale then go online and let ticketmaster give me the “best available” and move on.  I know better now.  Research pays off.  I truly do believe that.  First thing I checked out was what were the presales and what did they offer.  I discovered that Depeche was doing VIP packages.  Hmm…how much were they and what did they offer?  Now, as much as I like Depeche and I do, I knew that I wouldn’t be going for a VIP package unless it was truly reasonable and it offered just the right stuff.  I wouldn’t want to break the Duran savings account too much for this.  Here are their VIP packages: 

VIP package: Around $350

  • One reserved ticket in the first 10 rows
  • Exclusive pre-show reception, including appetizers, beer & wine
  • One parking spot per order (where available)
  • Specially designed concert shirt
  • Limited edition tour lithograph
  • Official tour program
  • Depeche Mode VIP commemorative laminate
  • VIP commemorative ticket
  • Exclusive tour gift item
  • Early entrance into the venue
  • Crowd-free merchandise shopping
  • On-site VIP host

Tour package: Around $250
  • One reserved ticket in the first 20 rows
  • Specially designed concert shirt
  • Limited edition tour lithograph
  • Official tour program
  • VIP commemorative ticket
  • Exclusive tour gift item
  • On-site VIP host
Now, for me, the most important thing for any VIP package is the seats.  So the VIP package gives a seat in the first 10 rows and the Tour package gives a seat in the first 20 rows.  I noticed that it didn’t say that the Tour package seats would be between rows 11-20.  Thus, it seemed possible to get a seat higher than row 11 by not buying the VIP package.  I also noticed that you wouldn’t know your exact seat until later.  This is how it worked with DuranDuranMusic back in the day.  Now, of course, with Artist Arena, you know your seats when you buy, which I really like.  A lot of the rest of the packages seemed to be about merchandise, which is fine for those big Depeche fans.  In general, though, their packages seem a lot like the old DDM packages with the VIP parties.  The cost were similar as well.  I am surprised that they didn’t offer better seats, though.  With DDM, VIP got you rows 1-5.  Even now, with Artist Arena, you generally get rows 1-6.  In this case, it doesn’t seem like their packages are that much better than Duran’s, in my opinion.  I did think one thing was weird.  You didn’t have to be a member of a fan club or anything to have access to these packages.  This makes me wonder if Depeche’s biggest fans will buy them or will scalpers buy them and sell for more money.  No matter for me as I opted to just get regular seats. 
My research was not complete.  I looked to see what presales were available.  For Depeche, there were three presales:  Citi Card Members, Amazon purchasers and Facebook followers before the general sale.  Interesting.  I didn’t and wouldn’t know if there were some seats in each section that would be saved for each presale or would the Citi Card Members get the best seats, no matter what.  I had to hope that they did save some as I could only try for the Amazon one.  Before the day of the presale, I had printed out a venue map, which was a good one with rows clearly marked as well as seats so I knew exactly where the seats were when they came up on the screen.  I also checked into various ticket brokers to see if there were tickets available from that Citi presale and there were.  Thus, I knew what I could get that way and what the tickets would cost.  I knew that I had options that way and that I didn’t have to just take whatever came up.  
During the actual presale, the first tickets that came up were in the very back section, row XX or something like that.  Horrible.  Yes, they were cheaper but still.  Horrible.  I tried again.  This time, I got tickets in the front section but all the way to the left side, row Z.  Not horrible but not great.  I debated for the 1:30 minutes they allow you to “complete the page”.  I figured I would try again.  This time, I got the center/left section, row 13 with the first two seats on the center section aisle!  I couldn’t believe it!  Obviously, I grabbed them!  This will be the sixth Depeche show for me and definitely the best seats I have had for them.  The best part I think is that I didn’t need to pay for the Tour package to get them!  I also truly felt my research had paid off.  I knew the venue well enough from the map to know what were good seats and what weren’t.  I knew what might be available and what might not due to those VIP packages and the other presale.   Clearly, I have come a long way when it comes to buying tickets from that 15 year old buying tickets through Ticketmaster’s phone system.  All of my Duran ticket buying experiences taught me well!  I am looking forward to the show because I think Depeche gives a good show and I have these great seats, but I’m also looking forward to walking in that venue that started my concert going.  It will feel like returning home.  Now, all of that said, I’m still blogging about Duran.  I’m editing the last research chapter for the book that uses Duran fandom as the case study.  I’m still planning a DURAN fan convention.  I promise that my Duranieness is still solid and isn’t going anywhere.  Can I please get my booklet for TV Mania now?!  Please?! -A

Meet El Presidente

Yesterday, I met the President of the United States.  I not only met him but I hugged him…actually, he hugged me and I returned the hug.  Now, before non-Obama supporters or before people who aren’t into American politics stop reading, I ask that you stay with me.  This post won’t be focused on President Obama or his opponent or the presidential race.  It is more about having that real moment with an idol and how that moment can be made SO special.

I received word Wednesday evening that I would be one of about 15 Obama volunteer team leaders and organizers who would be meeting the President on Thursday when he came to my city of Madison for a campaign rally.  I was glad that I had some time to think about what to wear but not too much time that I would obsess over it.  You see I have been organizing politically since the summer of 2008 for then Senator Obama and haven’t stopped since.  This is a complete volunteer position that has taken up 10-30 hours per week of my time.  Thus, when I got word that I would get a chance to meet him, I felt appreciated.  I felt my work was validated.  The campaign clearly felt like my contribution MATTERED.  Of course, even as I type this, I can’t help but to think about how this isn’t that much different than what we all feel about Duran Duran.  While we might not be organizing or working for them, we have been fans for a long time.  For many of us, we have been fans for decades.  Duranies, too, like to know that they are appreciated and that their loyalty matters.

I was told by the campaign to arrive at a certain spot at the rally at 1 pm.  Once the entire group of team leaders assembled, we were escorted into a closed building where the President would come.  At this time, I was already feeling pretty special.  Why?  It was the little things that really made me feel like I was going VIP.  First of all, the line to get into the rally was HUGE (there were 30,000 people there).  I did not have to stand in line.  Second, while we had to go through security like everyone else, we were allowed to go in before everyone else.  Tell me that this doesn’t sound like early entry?!  Then, when we were shown into this lovely room to wait with comfortable chairs and a beautiful view, I immediately saw that we were in the same room as the rest of the rally speakers.  This included the woman running for US Senate, the man running to take her spot in the US House of Representative and more.  I was in awe.  Again, I continued to feel special.

After awhile, we were given instructions that included the order in which we were going to greet the President and that we could not bring any personal items with us.  With that, we were escorted into a room that had been divided in half by large blue curtains, which would also act as the backdrop for the official photos.  Then, we waited.  As we waited, one of our current US Senators joined us and introduced himself.  Wow.  Soon enough, we heard a flurry of activity in the hallway and knew that he had arrived.  When he stepped into the room and greeted us generally, we clapped and cheered.  Then, there was more waiting until, finally, it was our turn.  I was nervous and had no idea how to properly greet him since I wanted to be respectful.  Since I was toward the end of the line, I saw that he was greeting people with hugs!  He initiated them!  Thus, I thought it was only right that I return the hug!  Then, we got into position for the group picture.  I managed to be right in front of him because he is tall and I’m short.  This position was perfect for him to put his hand on my shoulder!  Before we left the room, he thank us a few times and pointed out that we are the “core of the campaign”.  I blurted something about how I was tired.  (Wow!  What a genius move that was!  I’m tired?!  Like he isn’t WAY more tired?!).  He nodded and stated that we could do it for 33 more days.  I nodded back and said that I would keep working.  I will do work and get it done.  He said something about how he needed us.

There are no words to state what I felt like at that moment.  I felt unbelievably giddy.  I felt proud.  I mattered.  I am needed.  This once in a lifetime moment will stay with me forever.  I got my moment.  I got my moment with someone I look up to.  When I looked at the faces of my fellow leaders, they all had the same expression on their faces.  They, too, felt this way.  It was like we had all become fans.  While still shaking with excitement, we were led out the same doors that President Obama would walk to get to the stage.  In our case, we walked to the VIP section, which was in front, on the side.  Within a few minutes, President Obama came out and spoke.  During that time, I stood next to the woman running for Senate.  I was able to speak to her and get a picture.  I looked back at the rest of the people and realized that unlike them, I didn’t have to get there early.  I didn’t have to stand all day.  This truly was real VIP treatment.  I never felt so special.

As soon as I came back down to planet earth (pun intended), I began to think about my typical focus of fandom, Duran Duran, or fan meet and greets, in general.  Here’s what I know.  Fans, like me, all want to feel special, to feel like we matter.  We want to feel like serious VIPs.  After all, we have been fans for a long time and give much support with everything from our money for albums, concert tickets, merchandise and more to emotional support as we are constantly sending messages or comments in one way shape or form telling the band or band members about how much the band matters to us.  We want to get at least that 1/100th of the love back that we feel like we send to them.  I had that with the President yesterday.  I feel both lucky and appreciated.  It was a real gift.  So, why did it go so well, from my point of view?

First, my expectations were realistic.  In fact, I expected that it would be an assembly line of photographs with our very large group being pushed through quickly.  I didn’t expect words to be exchanged.  I certainly didn’t expect to touch him and I would have never even dreamed that I might be able to get a hug!  (What would I have to do to get a hug from say…a certain bass player?!)  Second, the meet and greet was set up well.  There was space and time so that no side felt pressured or cornered.  We weren’t made to feel like we were part of an assembly line and the President had a lot of space and didn’t have to deal with everyone at once.  Each person was directed when to approach.  This provided comfort to me as someone who isn’t good at just going up to people and introducing myself and I’m willing to bet that it helped the President not feel overwhelmed.  Yes, I know that the man probably is used to large crowds and a lot of people begging for his attention at the same time.  Likewise, I’m sure that Duran is, too.  Even if they are used to it, should they have to deal with it?  Why can’t they be allowed time and space that we all get?  Plus, I wonder if that rush affects not only their immediate meetings with fans but future meetings with fans.  Third, as part of the set up, instructions were given.  We all knew what we could do and what we couldn’t.  We knew not to ask for other pictures.  Thus, the President wasn’t put in a position to have to answer that question.  Lastly, I think that the rest of the crowd helped.  We were all very aware that we needed to be respectful.  No one approached President Obama for a hug before HE initiated it.  I like this.  This way, I knew that President Obama was truly okay with hugs once he started giving them himself.

What is my point here?  It is simple really.  We, fans, all wants our moment with our idols.  We all do.  I think this is normal.  After all, we are only human and we give a lot of ourselves by being fans.  We may not give work like I do with President Obama but we do give of ourselves when we become fans.  We give a piece of our heart.  We give our emotions.  Thus, we want a little bit of the love back at us.  We want our moment.  This meet and greet was done correctly.  It was done in such a way that I felt special and loved the whole time from minute one to the very end.  On top of that, it was done in such a way that everyone involved from regular people to the leader of our country felt comfortable as rules were clear or everyone followed the same principles of being respectful.  If I ever get the chance of having a meet and greet with Duran, I would hope to have something similar.  Until then, I gotta wonder why it was easier for me to meet the President than it is to really meet John Taylor (yes, I “met” him at a cd signing but that isn’t the same!)…Someday, I hope I could frame both the picture with President Obama and a picture with John.  *sigh*  If only! 

-A

Edited to add the picture!  I cropped the rest of the people out.  I didn’t do it because I’m self-centered.  I just didn’t think they would want to be on this blog about Duran Duran fans!

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

What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?

I happen to know a few fans who are very excited about the announcement of shows in South America for later this spring.  The fan community in South America is vibrant, loyal, and ready to show plenty of love for Duran Duran when they arrive.  These fans have sat and watched as plenty of other places in the world were able to celebrate the music they enjoy with the band that they love, and soon it will be their turn to host the band on their own continent.

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.

-R

The Bigger/Better Fan

In response to yesterday’s blog, I had some interesting conversations.  The conversations started from comments about how Duran doesn’t seem to really care about the hardcore fans.  For some people, this was determined by the fact that they play the same setlist over and over again and that setlist isn’t one to deviate much from the hits that “casual” fans would recognize.  For other fans, this comment stems from how Duran always tours the same places over and over again.  I can’t obviously disagree with either of those statements.  The setlists don’t vary much and they do seem to tour the same places over and over again.  Anyway, from there, the conversations became about how the fan community expects people who consider themselves to be big fans to be willing to travel and willing to pay the money to go VIP.  Obviously, then, this is problematic for those fans who cannot travel.  At the same token, I have also seen fans be made to feel bad because they can and have traveled and/or gone VIP.

First, is there this assumption that big fans would travel and would go VIP?  Obviously, I can’t be everywhere in the fandom at all times.  From what I have observed, though, I wouldn’t say that it is an assumption.  I think people who travel become more involved in the fandom, whether they want to or not.  They can’t help but to meet more people, have more experiences surrounding the band, and have more knowledge of certain elements of Duranland.  Would it make sense that people who have more first hand knowledge and have more friends in the community be considered bigger fans?  In some ways, it does, and I’m not saying that to put anyone down.  Hear me out.  I look at it this way.  In a real life community, a city council member might be considered a more significant member of the community.  Why?  Well, that person might know more people in the community from campaigning, from communicating with different people to make decisions about the city, etc.  At the same token, the rest of the community would probably know that person as well even if that city council member hasn’t met them personally.  It just happens.  Now, does that mean that the city council member is a more important member of the community?   Absolutely not but that person can’t help but to have more influence in terms of what happens in the city, both directly and indirectly.  Thus, I think that it is possible that fans who travel be look at differently than the fans that don’t.  In many cases, I’m sure that it isn’t that these fans want to be seen as bigger/better.  For many fans, I’m sure they don’t want other people to view them as conceited, arrogant or whatever insult they could be called.  Now, are there fans that do think that fans should be willing to travel and/or buy VIP?  I’m sure that there are.  I think it is hard for people to put themselves in other people’s shoes.  Thus, if they can do, others must be able to, or so it is thought.  I’m sure that there are many fans who do save and sacrifice in order to be able to travel and/or go VIP and some of them might not be able to understand how other people can’t do that.  Perhaps, the assumption is that if going to a show was that important to fans, then they would sacrifice many other things in order to go.  Personally, I save all the time for shows.  I have to, if I want to be able to go.  For me, this means that I sacrifice other things. 

In these conversations, I was told that this assumption that traveling equals bigger/better fan is both stated outright and is implied.  Lately, though, I have also seen the opposite.  I have seen people avoid talking about traveling to go to shows, about how many shows they can get to, about having good seats, about going VIP, etc.  These fans don’t want to talk about their experiences because they don’t want to be thought of as boasting or rubbing it in others’ faces.  Thus, they don’t get to enjoy their experiences like they could because of this.  While fans who can’t travel should be made to feel badly about this, fans who can shouldn’t feel badly either.  I know that Rhonda and I are constantly being told how lucky we are that Duran tours here so often.  In some ways, this is true.  We are lucky.  We admit it.  Yet, I sometimes want to point out to people that Duran hasn’t played in my city since 1984 and hasn’t played my state since 2005.  Of course, what is the point of saying this, really?  There are other fans who have it much, much worse than I do.  I know this.  That said, I bet that we can always find fans who have it worse than someone else.  That’s the nature of all things in life.

Do I think it sucks that Duran doesn’t tour everywhere?  Of course, I do!  I, seriously, want all fans to be able to experience shows.  Even better, I wish that all fans could have great seats at shows!  I do.  How would it help me if I didn’t want that?  Yet, I can’t control where they go.  No fan can.  I can’t control who can travel and who can’t and I can’t control how other fans react to this. I can only control what I CAN do.  I can only control how I react to other fans.  Yes, I offer and will continue to offer sympathy for those fans who haven’t had shows anywhere near them (by that the city, state, country, continent or hemisphere!).  I will continue to wish that Duran gets everywhere to make all fans happy and I will be thrilled for those fans who get a show who haven’t ever or haven’t in a very long time!  That said, I don’t want to see the fan community to be such that fans are made to feel bad if they haven’t be able to travel or go VIP but I also don’t want to see the community treat those who have traveled or can travel to be made to feel badly for being able to.  Yes, I’m sure that I’m responding to this is a very naive, let’s all get along way.  Yet, I think we can all do things in order to make sure that all fans feel like part of the community and an important part of the community.  What can you do or not do to help with this?

-A 

VIP Packages – are they really worth it?

If I don’t get comments on this topic, I will know that all of you are sleeping.  Or going to shows.  Or sleeping because you went to a show.  Before I get into today’s topic, I thought I’d commiserate with all of you who aren’t going to Vegas.  I thought I was fine with not going until today, and of course now I’m wishing I could be there.  It’s the “curse” of being a parent (and I really wouldn’t trade it – you’ve got to take the bad with the good) though – there’s no way I can be there having fun when I’ve got three kids to take care of here, and oddly, my husband just can’t take off work whenever I want to go somewhere.  We all make choices, and while I’m not going to Vegas, it’s not at all lost on me that I’m traveling to Chicago in less than a month, and then the UK a month after that, and I do have the Valley Center show on Saturday. I am fortunate!  Regardless, I could certainly use a day or two playing like a grown up.  Couldn’t we all?

Yesterday I received my VIP goodies in UPS – they were brilliantly packaged in a poster tube! In the package I received a T-shirt, a laminate (meant for a lanyard) and a poster.  Pictures below:

The t-shirt is decent quality, it’s lightweight, but definitely not tissue weight, and it’s generously sized.  I ordered a large and it’s going to be big on me – which in my case is what I wanted.  The one thing that would have been nice, but it wasn’t at all promised, is that it have VIP on it somewhere – and really I think the key would have been to have it be a tour design shirt with the US dates on the back.  (I don’t even know if they have a shirt for this tour) That would have truly been commemorative, but as I mentioned – that wasn’t what was promised, so it’s not as though they didn’t deliver.

The laminate is just that – a small laminate that is meant for hanging on a lanyard that was not included.  This is the one item that I think is lame.  There are no tour dates on it other than the year, and compared to others I’ve received in the past – which already came hanging on a lanyard – I don’t see the point.  The photo used is the photo on the front page of DD.com – not a bad picture to use, but there’s really no point unless you’re into collecting them, which I suspect many VIP’ers must be.

The poster is the best item included in the package by a landslide.  It’s heavy weight posterboard (nearly cardboard, but not quite as it can be rolled and put in a poster tube without causing damage) and the photo is gorgeous…and recent…as can be seen by John’s blonde bangs. (thank you thank you thank you John Taylor.)  The poster is so nice that I dared ask my  husband if it can be framed and hung in our room. (as opposed to being hung up in my tiny little closet along with my other Duran Duran posters that have somehow lasted through the ages!)  Jury is still out on that one, but given the fact that HE suggested framing it…I may just have a chance!  The only thing missing on the poster in my opinion, well two things actually, are Dom Brown (granted he is not a member but it just seems kind of empty without him) and the signatures of the band.  Not a likely addition that could be made, but one can certainly dream.

All of this, plus a guaranteed “premium” seat was an extra $125 USD on top of the ticket price.  Total for my show in Valley Center was about $250.  My seats (my husband Walt is going with me) are 3rd row in the middle section of the arena floor and if you’re looking at the stage – I’m on the aisle to the right of Simon’s spot.  Not bad seats by any means, but again – is it worth the price?

Back in 2005, I went as a VIP to the Chicago show.  Again my seats were 3rd row, this time on John’s side.  I remember getting a lanyard, a decent tote bag that had Duran Duran printed on the bag…I can’t remember if we got a t-shirt or not (I have one from that tour, but I don’t know if it came in the package, anyone remember?) and we had a pre-show party with a couple drink tickets.  I have to admit that at the time, I did sort of feel like I was a VIP.  It was the new-ness of the situation I’m sure, along with the excitement of being at the show with my friends that made it worth my money.  The party was OK, but it was all so rushed that none of us really had a chance to enjoy it – although at the time, I still had fun.  I believe that my ticket for that show was somewhere around $300 plus fees, and yes, the price hurt.  Some time after that I did VIP for the fan show in NYC – I think I paid closer to $350 or more for that show and I was up in the balcony.  The party was nicer with really good food, I received a very nice bag that was both suede and canvas with the show printed on the side along with a poster and a lanyard (a very nice lanyard – the best quality one I have), but the sting was that my seat was ridiculous – and ridiculously priced for what I ended up with. After that I swore that my VIP days were over.  Famous last words, right?

One thing I need to mention is that in addition to the other goodies mentioned, there was always the dangling carrot of having an teensy-weensy chance of winning a Meet and Greet with the band.  If you can’t tell by my tone, no, I’ve never won one.  The closest I’ve come to a meet and greet is a signing that I waited hours for over the course of two afternoons/evenings in Los Angeles – and yet I’m still thankful I had the opportunity.  I know of many fellow VIP’ers that have won not only one VIP meet and greet, but several over the years.  Apparently my band karma sucks or I’ve pissed the wrong person off.  Those are the breaks.

I should also back up and mention that in more recent years, there were differing levels of VIP – silver, gold & platinum – and of course with each level up there was a price premium and the promise of more merchandise and better tickets.  I think that for the most part, Amanda and I stuck to “gold” which put us between rows 5-10. I know people who have payed as high as $550 for their VIP tickets, and I can’t imagine the merchandise they were given was any better or worse than I have right now. VIP prices have definitely gone down with this tour, and the merchandise quality has probably taken a little hit as well.  There’s no longer a chance for a meet and greet with the band, either.  While my seat for Valley Center is good, I probably could have taken my chances and gotten a seat on Ticketmaster, or even gone to StubHub and paid a premium but still ended up with a good seat.  

I’m not sure what exactly it comes down to for me, but I’ll try to explain my thoughts as succinctly as possible.  I know that I can go to StubHub and pay somewhere between $200-$300 for really good tickets to any Duran Duran show and be relatively near the front.  Not front row, but not horrible seats either.  I also know that I can use my DDM membership and get VIP tickets for nearly the same price point that are going to probably be in the first 5 rows or so and I’ll get some merchandise as well.  I also know that I’m not happy with just any seats these days.  I want good ones unless it’s GA, and then I relegate myself to the back because I refuse to wait in line for an entire day to get to the front.  (maybe I’d do it again if I were with the right friends – but to just wait by myself?  Nah!)  I guess my point is that if I know I’m already going to be paying $200 or so, I’d rather just do the VIP thing, end up with a guaranteed good seat and some fun merchandise on top of it all.

It all comes down to budgets and choices, doesn’t it?

-R

Presale Week and Evaluation!

I survived presale week!  For me, it was an absolutely crazy one!  It is hard to imagine that just five day ago, no one knew where or when Duran Duran was going to tour outside of a couple random shows.  This week, we added 11 dates in the UK and a date in Germany to the previously known superbowl thing in Dallas, the Coachella festival in California and the iTunes festival in London.  In typical Duran fashion, these UK dates were put up early Tuesday morning with fan community presales beginning the next morning.  Gotta love the pressure of being forced to decide what shows to do in mere HOURS after an announcement.  There was LITTLE time to evaluate choices, discuss with friends, talk to work, anything…Now, this has been how it has been done in Duranland for so long that no one was really surprised and there were little complaints from my observations.  How sad is that?!  We are so used to being treated so poorly that we don’t even pay attention to the lack of consideration.  Clearly, in this case like so many before, the band’s management decided to announce the tour ONLY when they had to.  They put out the information only DAYS before the shows went on sale to the public.  Someone really should explain to me why they can’t give the information further in advance.  They obviously had this information before Tuesday morning.  Why wait?  I swear, sometimes, I feel like we are all being watched and they SO enjoy watching us all run around like crazy people trying to come up with a plan quickly!

As Rhonda mentioned earlier in the week, we decided to do Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and London with friends joining us for three out of the four after much discussion, evaluation, quick budgeting figuring and more.  In all seriousness, I think we all aged about 3 years in just Tuesday alone!  Much of that discussion always includes buying the tickets.  Who is going to buy?  What kind of tickets should we try for?  Should we go with DDM or whatever the hell it is calling itself today?  Should we wait for the regular sale?  I’ll be honest here in saying that I have done the DDM presales more often than not and have almost always been pleased by the seats I have received.  Typically, they have been better than the seats I got through regular sales on places like Ticketmaster.  I also have to confess that the presales have usually gone smoothly for me, with being able to purchase the tickets of my choice within minutes.  I figured that this tour would be no different.  Of course, this time we knew that some other company was taking care of the tickets, which meant changes.

This presale definitely was different than previous ones.  In some ways, it was absolutely better and in other ways, not so much.  As Rhonda mentioned yesterday, part of the changes involved the VIP packages so I won’t get into those.  Yet, despite the changes in packages, it was still having to click on the package of your choice for the city of your choice.  Now, this time, most of the shows went on sale at the exact same time.  I have to wonder if that is a good idea!  Is it really smart to have all of these Duranies trying to get tickets at the same time?!  Will the system be able to handle that?  Maybe it could for 9 or 11 shows this time around but will it be able to handle 25 shows in the US?  I shudder to think about what those presales might be like.  My assessment is that this is a mistake.  For one thing, it is very difficult for people who are buying for more than one show.  Usually, I’m the one to buy the concert tickets as Rhonda picks up the hotel rooms.  That wasn’t possible this time as both of us had to buy tickets at the same time in order to get the seats of our choice.  Ugh.  Then, there was the little glitch in their system….

My little group of four felt pretty confident going into Wednesday morning’s presale.  After all, we had a solid plan with different people buying for different shows and we are experienced Duranies.  We have all done this before.  Maybe we were too confident.  Maybe we couldn’t process the possibility that it wouldn’t go our way after having to make these decisions so damn quickly.  Perhaps, the fact that we had to buy tickets at 2 in the MORNING didn’t help.  It could have been a combination of all of the above or it could have been that their system sucks.  So, I’m supposed to be buying for Birmingham.  No problem.  My friend is buying for Nottingham at the same time.  Her order goes through right away.  Yes.  We are in business.  I’m not, though.  It wouldn’t accept my card.  I tried a different card.  No luck there.  I tried my friend’s card that just worked for the Nottingham order.  No luck.  Then, Rhonda tried and had the same problem.  Much cursing continued.  We tried for a half hour and somehow, we were able to purchase the tickets of our choice.  Of course, we weren’t out of the woods yet.  We had to buy for Liverpool and London.  Oh boy…

Liverpool went fairly smoothly.  London, on the other hand, did not.  We got seats but they were just okay.  Now, I will openly admit that we are spoiled Duranies when it comes to how far back is acceptable for Duran shows.  It does not matter how far back I am for other bands but it absolutely does matter for Duran.  Obviously, part of the reason I usually go with the fan community presale is that I usually get seats in the 6th to 11th row.  Anything less than that is painful.  (See what I mean?  Absolutely spoiled we are!)  So, Rhonda and I, in our infinite wisdom, decide to try for London seats through the regular sale in order to see if we could do better.  This meant, of course, that we were up AGAIN in the middle of the night to buy tickets.  Guess what?  We didn’t have any luck there either.  Great.  Joy.  What do we do?  Go for a different package on DDM.  Guess how that went?  Like it did the first time.  The stupid system wouldn’t take our order at first.  Then, it said that they were sold out and back to not taking our order.  Eventually, we got it to go through.  Ugh.  (By the way, if you are interested in buying our extra tickets for London, they are in Block 101, row T, seats 24 and 25.  Feel free to email us:  dailyduranie@gmail.com.)

Now, I’m utterly exhausted and part of me feels like I have already done the tour!  Would I use the fan community for the next show(s) I go to?  Unfortunately, the answer is going to be yes.  I hate the lack of time between the announcement and the presale.  I thought selling all of the shows at the same time was completely unfair to those of us wanting to buy more than one show.  I wouldn’t doubt that the system was overloaded, which caused the problems we had in buying our tickets.  I would suspect the US presales to be WAY worse.  That said, I did appreciate the fact that we now know exactly where we are sitting, which did not happen with the old system.  I also am completely thrilled with where I will be for these shows!!!  They weren’t cheap but I already know that this is a tour of a lifetime for me.  I have never traveled outside of the US for shows before.  I have never been able to.  I love the people I’m going with and cannot wait to meet people across the pond!  I believe that these new songs are going to be amazing live!  I look forward to seeing how fans there are the same/different than the fans here and so much more now that I survived presale hell 2011!

-A