DDM: Fan Club? Fan Community? Both?

I originally planned on posting a guest blog today as I’m in Boston visiting my brother but after reading everyone’s comments to the blog yesterday about DDM, I felt like I had more to say (Don’t I always?!) Anyway, one thing I truly love about doing this blog with Rhonda is that I have always pushed to think. I am forced to think when I write and then I think when I read your comments (here, Facebook and twitter). Yesterday’s blog post focused on one aspect of DDM: Member extras. It wasn’t about the presales and it wasn’t about message boards. Nonetheless, people’s responses to the blog did bring up the boards and the presales. One other large aspect that seemed to come up is cost, which in turn brought out the idea of exclusivity vs. inclusivity. This blog then asks more fundamental questions surrounding DDM and the “official fan community.”

As we all know DDM is Duran Duran’s official fan community and it costs money to join. Before we dive into the various aspects of what DDM has to offer, let me ask this. Should fan communities cost money? Obviously, in this case, the fan community costs money with the idea being that it offers things to the members. This idea isn’t new. Lots of things work like this and I can think of many examples. People buy gym memberships in order to use the various equipment, take classes offered there, use the pool, etc. You pay for these opportunities. This is designed in the same way. It is done with the idea being that if you offer the right things and things that cannot be provided anywhere else, people will pay and join. Should fandoms work that way, though? Why or why not? I’m sure from a band’s point of view it is a way to get money without the hard work of recording an album or playing shows. I can understand that. I can also understand the fan’s desire to join a fan club or community. Certainly, I get that. I want to admit that I’m a fan. Isn’t that how the first fan clubs got started, as a way to show one is a fan and to find other fans? Yet, as soon as money is involved, it could start to exclude people. It may no longer being about being a fan and now becomes a fan with money. Yes, I obviously know that DDM isn’t a fortune. Yet, it does cost and that extra might be too much for some.

The next question that comes to mind is what should a fan community do. The more and more I think about the fact that DDM calls itself “Duran Duran: The Fan Community”, the more and more I question their use of the word, community, to describe it. Is it a community or a club? What’s the difference between the two? To me, a community involves people interacting with each other. A club means that people join something and may or may not interact. Clearly, DDM tries to do both. They push the community by having things like the message boards and they push the club by offering presale tickets and other items like Katy Kafes. Is this what DDM should be doing? Should they be trying to do both the community and the club? If they should be a club only, what features should they offer? What should they offer if they focus on being a community? Perhaps, part of the problem is that they don’t have a focus. There is no real game plan.

A couple of things that came up yesterday in the various comments is that DDM is no longer, if ever, really able to come up with a community, which is ironic since they is what it is entitled. People want a place to get the news about Duran and they definitely don’t feel like they get that there. Then, if it is going to be a community, a place for fans to come together and interact, how should that be done? I’m happy that a number of you feel like this place is a better place for community. People mentioned that they are able to freely speak their minds without worry. Yes, people may disagree but it is done respectfully. Rhonda and I would like to think that we have helped to create this open and respectful environment. It should also include EVERYONE, no matter where you live, what your favorite Duran stuff is or isn’t, no matter how many shows you have been to, no matter how many times you have met or haven’t met the band, etc. This leads back to the first question. Should being part of a fan community have anything to do with money? Should having the ability to talk to other fans be based on a fee? What about those VIP tickets? People complain that there are not guaranteed meet and greets with VIP tickets, which is a valid point, but what about the fact that not everyone can afford those? Does the way DDM runs create an exclusivity between fans with the money factor? Obviously, the idea of joining a fan club is a way to differentiate oneself from a non-fan. Does DDM do this or just keep us, fans, separated from each other?

I don’t have answers to these questions but I do think they are fundamental questions. What should Duran’s fan club be like? Is that the same as the fan community? Should it be? How should it be done to include everyone? What do you all think? -A

7 thoughts on “DDM: Fan Club? Fan Community? Both?”

  1. Well, I don't really know WHAT needs to be done to try to make people happy @ this point. BUT I will say that YES, DDM WAS, and I stress the past tense here, a COMMUNITY. We all got to know each other. For a LONG time the simple fact that there WAS a fee tended to keep the trolls often found on other boards away from the rest of us. It also tended to keep the tickets safe from would be scalpers. That was when you HAD to be a member for a minimum length of time before taking part in presales. That part is gone. I am sure good seats are now easily obtained by those who are willing to shell out the fee once a year. But I am getting a bit off track.

    My main point was that we on the forums got to KNOW one another. many of us made GOOD friends, some for life. We spend time together outside the world of DD and have been to each other's weddings and baby showers and have helped each other through trying personal times like divorces and illnesses. We used to be able to go on DDM and openly look for someone to share rooms with for the shows when we traveled. I went to NY with the help of a friend who got me a buddy pass through Jet Blue where she worked and I shared a hotel room on one night with two different friends from the site and then the second night with her and one of those from the first night. I spent nights in Vegas with people I had only met online on DDM many times. In 2005, after I helped organize a meetup before the San Diego show, I met some of my DDM friends there and that was where I was able to get a ticket, ride and room last minute to go to a Vegas show for the first time ever.

    NOW, however, there are so few people left around and a lot of those are new members. The good old friends are now all over on FB. I really miss the sense of community we had back from about 2005 – maybe 2008/2009 or so. Even DURING the tours, it is fairly dead in there. I go on and there used to be so many threads going, I could barely keep up. Now, I go in after a couple of days and there might be like 5 or 6 threads with any new posts on the whole board. The community has become a ghost town. The mill shut down and the residents all moved away in search of a new life elsewhere. And those who have stayed, seem almost broken in spirit. What can we do? Who knows? The contests have dwindled. There is no real communication to speak of from customer service. You have to e-mail for that. There is nobody to meet people @ the shows for VIPs any longer. In Pomona last year, the venue had no idea what was going on with the VIPs and had they not formed their own line, there would have been total chaos. It is barely a fan CLUB, much less a community now. It is a shell and a joke amongst fans. And they were trying to think of ways to raise the cost. I have not yet paid the extra to get the swag, which I would like as a collector, but frankly, I have other things I need that money for still. I just don't even know. I almost did not renew this time and am not sure what I will do in the future. It all makes me incredibly sad.

  2. In trying to respond to YESTERDAY'S blog entry (July 14th), I inadvertently answered TODAY'S blog question. Oopsie!! If you want to read it in detail, you'll have to go to the previous post.

    Quick summary:
    There needs to be a distinction between fan community and VIP club. The Internet already meets need for fan community (albeit not in one consolidated place). VIP reserved for concert seating and M&Gs; everything else left as open benefit to ALL fans (or that ALL fans pay equally).

  3. I am glad that someone found community there once. I tried to but my community was elsewhere. I found the focus and being in the “in” crowd to be super strong there.

    As for what to be done, I would advocate a complete overhaul once they have decided what DDM is and should be.

    -A

  4. To Rhonda & Amanda:

    You should forward this entire blog entry to Katy Krassner (or tweet the link to her on Twitter)–if possible, include the fan replies. It needs to be brought to the band's attention. Hopefully they care enough about their rapport with fans to rectify this longstanding sore point.

  5. Very good post. I was only a member of the fan community for about 2 years and have mixed feelings about it. It did feel nice to be accepted there but I kind of still felt a little like and outsider because I have only been a big fan since around April of 2005 when I first saw them in concert. I was into them a little before then starting in 1992. Wasn't really paying attention to them before then. Most people there have been major fans since the beginning or close to it. I seem to remember having to be a member for a certain amount of time before qualifying for privelages. That was in 2008 and 2009, I got a little confused though when I looked into possibly rejoining a month ago because I hadn't remembered there being a VIP membership cost. Mine was like 35.00, I think. I probably could afford the higher cost of VIP now if I saved up money instead of buying unecessary items but I am not sure if it really would be worth it and probably should be putting that money towards more important things like an auto repair fund.

    Oh, I overheard a girl that is a VIP member saying that it's not fair that people who aren't in this exclusive club get close to the stage at general admission shows which kind of made me mad. I stood outside for 3 hours one cold December day just so I could be close to my fav group which I have never been before so I think that I'm entitled to this too. I probably will never be luck enough to be that close to them again. I went a little bonkers with the camera when I should've been focusing just on the music though.

    I'm so glad that my friend sent me the link to your blog. I have been enjoying it so much.

  6. Hi LaraAnn – glad you like the blog!!!

    I might be completely wrong, but it's my understanding that the “VIP” part of the membership is just for the extra stuff. I never did anything but the basic $35 membership, and now I don't even have that. Amanda has it and we use that for our presales and whatever else we want.

    I have to say that as someone who has stood outside for many hours just to get “near” the front at a GA show, I don't really see what that person meant about VIP. The fact is, if the venue doesn't allow for early admission – you have your CHOICE as to whether or not you should VIP for a show, and if you do so, you need to expect that other people will be close to that stage.

    I know what you mean about going bonkers with the camera, but I have to say that the shows I've enjoyed the most were the ones that I left the camera pretty much alone. πŸ™‚ I love just getting into the music and allowing it to take me on a ride without having to think “Hmm….should I grab some pictures here?” πŸ˜€ That's just me though.

    Thanks for commenting!! -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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