To begin with, the conversation talked about aesthetics. Specifically, the loss of aesthetics with regard to MP3’s. John did give a bit of background, mentioning that their last album (that would be Red Carpet Massacre) was really a low point with them (he was referring to the lack of connection to their fan base). I think he went back to describe that so he could explain why they chose to release AYNIN independently through iTunes. As any of us who was around in the 80’s and loved vinyl knows – there is something really lost without those precious liner notes and album covers. I still feel that way, and I know I’m not alone. Yes, iTunes and the like has(have) many wonderful attributes, but there is something really special about being able to hold that album in ones hand and see that artwork up close and personal. John continues to explain that the first video for the album (AYNIN) only cost them $10k to make. Say what you will about labels, I do understand how the lack of resources can sting a bit. Although in my opinion, this video is more than strong. John says it was “nothing extraordinary”. Maybe not. However, if you’re asking me….and I know you’re not but that’s the beauty of this blog….I think the video is absolutely extraordinary because it feels organic and natural in a way that most videos today do not. It showcases the song, the band and a sense of “self” that the band doesn’t often show. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum is Girl Panic, which is the epitome of excess in almost every way, complete with product sponsors, girls, skin, champagne…and almost no sign of the band or the song it is supposed to be promoting. Oddly, this one video is the first video that the band has had that has gone “viral” in any sense with over 5 million views at this writing. John explains that they really didn’t know what the video would do, they had no control over where it would play or how far it would go. (I wonder what it’s like to be on their end at times when you just have to take a step back and let the video do it’s thing!) So, either I’m totally wrong about AYNIN or I just don’t get people. I’d probably say both. John was then asked if the view count of the video translates into sales – because let’s face it – that really IS the question, isn’t it? John was honest, and I give him complete credit for not trying to spin the answer the way some in that band might have done, and he said that they don’t know yet but that he thinks it’s more about the indirect brand enhancement. When they play it at shows, he commented that it feels more like they’re playing a hit song, even though it’s gotten very little airplay (if any) on radio. Personally, I think he’s on to something with that. YouTube might need to be looked at differently in order to be used more effectively by the band. It may just be more of a marketing goldmine than anyone is really thinking.
Technology as a whole really has changed since the 80’s, and that in turn has changed music. John feels that iTunes has really changed the listening habits of the younger generation. He gave the example that back in the 70’s, he listened to acts like Bowie – who to a large degree were only big in England until the industry itself started thinking more globally; and his musical tastes centered around acts that were big at that time (the late 70’s). I think to my own tastes, and I often comment that I listened to 80’s alternative. I discovered most of my music from KROQ radio here in Los Angeles and MTV. I didn’t have the library of iTunes to wade through (although I did love Tower Records – which was king of vinyl back in my day!), and even when I did spend time in record stores, I bought music that I’d already heard somewhere. There was very little ability to “try before you buy” (those “listening station” things didn’t really come into practice until the later 90’s). iTunes, on the other hands, allows for the buyer to really get a taste of what they’re buying, they can buy music on a huge global level, and just about anything you’ve ever heard from any time period is able to be bought. You’d think that today’s generation would have better taste with that sort of spectrum to glean from, wouldn’t you?
Duran Duran’s fans come from around the world. This much we know to be true, and we also know that during the past year or so, at least a few of the band members have tried to reach out and connect with fans. John found that he enjoyed the rapid back and forth real time banter he was able to have with fans and friends throughout the world – even though initially he wasn’t sure he would enjoy social media. What seems to have really struck, and maybe even surprised the band, was how fans in turn connect with one another. I would go so far as to tell him that because the band was so late in coming to the social media “table” – fans actually connected with one another before we really even connected with them on a level beyond the stage. Granted, we all came here due to the band, but I still say that many of stuck around as much for one another as we might have to support the music. A drastic thought, really. The band has found real power in our connection, and as John put it – they have seen that power and energy continue to grow. It’s that power that I feel the band has to learn how to put to good use. Before we eat one another, of course. (good luck!)
While the band plays catch up and sees that if they harness our loyalty to themselves and to one another, we might be able to set this world afire, there is the Here Right Now project, which I introduced in this blog here. This project was introduced to the fan community a few short weeks ago, but today it has been formally launched to the world. Originally the project was seen as a way to show peoples needs around the world, and morphed into what it is today. The band wants feedback from fans, utilizing short prompts – and over time, these prompts will change and become more obscure. I suppose to some extent, one could look at it as though it’s a giant global game…they name the word, we think of the picture to describe what we think when seeing that word. What remains to be seen is how much the band will take part, if any; and if the past is any sort of indicator to them – they need to know that it is this sort of thing where they really should attempt to take part. It’s part of the whole “connecting with fans” thing – and in this case it seems as though it should take no time. The ability to upload pictures with a mobile phone means they could be (and will be) anywhere in the world, take a picture – and upload it to the site. Obviously, fans can and should do the same. In a year where so much will be taking place on our globe – it would seem to be a great time to connect on such a visual level.
Of course, ask me if I’ve tried it out myself – and the answer would be no. I have to be honest, I haven’t even thought about the site lately. I suspect it’s one of those things that can be easily forgotten, and will take the same sort of effort that going to Twitter or Facebook initially took. Some will get it, some might not, but the beauty is that there seems to be some sort of way to connect for everyone in a way we never had before!