Commercial Success

Recently, Roger Taylor’s interview from South African radio surfaced.  (Thanks to Gimme A Wristband for providing it for all of us!)  During that interview, Roger said that the album would be out in January, which is different than what John said in his interview as he said it would be released at the end of the year.  This declaration of a specific month has prompted some discussion among fans about which month would be better to release the album and first single.  This discussion implies that this album and the singles, if there are any released, would have the goal of being commercially successful.  What does this even mean?  Is that even possible for Duran Duran in 2010/2011?

Obviously, Duran has had periods of incredible commercial success, including the early ’80s and the early ’90s.  At those times, they sold many copies of their albums and had chart success for both albums and singles.  It is worth noting that the chart success was on the Top 40 charts as opposed to the dance chart or adult contemporary.  The sale of the albums released in those times resulted in gold and platinum records for the band.  Can the band achieve that again?

Some fans clearly believe that they can have that success again, if they are arguing about which month is better for an album to be released.  They are not discussing this in order for themselves to have the money to purchase it but in order to get the most notice from the general public.  This public includes Duranies, casual fans and non-fans alike.  Most, if not all, of the Duranies will purchase the album, no matter the quality of work.  Goodness, many bought copies of Red Carpet Massacre (RCM) even knowing that they were not wild about it.  Yet, most fans are extremely loyal to a band that they have admired for years/decades.  They always want to support them and give any music by them a chance.  Duran did not seem to sell many copies of RCM beyond those loyal fans and they didn’t get into the mainstream charts.  One can then argue that this is because the music wasn’t solid.  That’s fair but Astronaut did not achieve commercial success, either, except for a few specific countries.  Most Duranies bought more than one copy of Astronaut because it clearly felt like the Duran that we know and love and many casual fans purchased it as they, too, were excited by the reunion of the original five.  Perhaps, even some non-fans gave it a shot.  Despite that, they didn’t sell enough copies to turn even gold and their chart success was limited and short-lived.  Why?

I’m sure that every Duranie is going to have an answer as to why they didn’t achieve “success” with Astronaut and RCM.   Some will focus on the fact that their record label at the time (Sony) didn’t promote them or the albums well.  Others will focus on what they perceive were poor choices for singles.  Those things may be true but even with more publicity and different songs for singles, could they have had success?  I actually suspect that they didn’t have that then and probably won’t have it now.  While those decisions about singles and promotion may have an impact, but they don’t tell the whole story.  The quality  music could also be part of it.  I’m sure it may be all of those things combined but I also think that age plays a role.  Obviously, Duranies still think the band has got it, but will those people who decide who or what should be played on the radio?  I will never forget how the Killers kept being played on Top 40 radio and Sunrise wasn’t, during the fall of 2004.  What made the songs so different?  The bands have a similar style and feel.  Heck, the Killers even claim Duran as an influence.  Yet, one was acceptable and one wasn’t to much of mainstream coverage.  The difference between the two isn’t sounds or even looks.  It is age. 

Will Duran reach commercial success with this new album, I still doubt it as they are not getting any younger (dang it!).  I suspect that Top 40 radio stations will to continue to overlook them no matter how good the music is.  Should I even be rooting for them to achieve this?  I don’t know as having that kind of success brings a lot of problems with it.  What I hope for is that Duran has made an album that they can be proud of and one that the fans will love, no matter what happens to it, chart wise.


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