How Much Do the Hardcore Fans Matter?

The other day, I read a new interview with Roger Taylor.  You can read it here.  Overall, I found the interview to be rather annoying as it seemed that the interviewer didn’t really like Duran much and really wanted to paint the band in a bad light.  Roger, on the other hand, I think handled it well.  One comment of Roger’s really caught my attention.  The interviewer asked about Mark Ronson and whether or not he was an “involved collaborator”.  In answering the question, Roger said the following:  “It hit the mark with the fans and you’ve gotta get your hardcore fans first because if you don’t get them you’re in trouble.”  The “it” is obviously the album, All You Need Is Now. 

It seemed to me that Roger was saying that, in general, the fanbase loved this album, as opposed to the last album, and that the fanbase is essential to Duran.  First, I agree with this statement.  I do think that the fans fell in love with AYNIN.  Yes, obviously, there are fans who don’t like the album but there doesn’t seem to be many of them, at least in my observations.  I would also agree that, at least, a significant part of the fanbase did not like Red Carpet Massacre.  I look back at that time and cringe.  While I’m one of those fans who doesn’t like RCM, I didn’t like what was going on in the fandom more.  The fan community felt divided.  Those of us who didn’t like the album felt the band had moved in the wrong direction, musically, or had made an album very unDuran like.  To me, the music felt soulless and it bothered me that Duran wasn’t writing their own material for the first time.  Then, the other members of the fan community spent hours defending the band and the new album.  It wasn’t a fun time for most of us, I think.  Some fans walked away.  Maybe, they walked away because of the new album, because Andy left or because of the lack of fun in the community.  Thus, no matter what I think of the music on RCM, I doubt that I will ever look back on that album, fondly.  As we know, that album didn’t do well commercially.  Yes, I know that AYNIN isn’t doing well commercially, either.  That said, I do think Duran is in a better place now.

It seems to me that a lot of fans returned to the fandom when the original members reunited.  Some of these people came back simply to fulfill a childhood dream to see the Fab Five perform live.  Maybe those fans would have walked away no matter what album had followed Astronaut and the reunion.  Yet, I think that if the band had released an album that felt very-Duran, like AYNIN does to many of us, I think some of those fans would have stayed.  Their interest in Duran would have grown stronger.  Instead, it was easy to walk away from a band that no longer was the Fab 5 and didn’t sound like them, either.  Of course, many of us remained fans throughout RCM.  Our fandom was tested and lasted.  That said, how many of us would have walked away if the band had recorded something similar to RCM?  I think that many of us put up with that time because we knew that it could be better.  If it seemed like it wasn’t going to ever get better, I have no doubt that many more people would have left.  It could have marked the end of the band, if the majority or a good chunk of their fanbase left. 

Now, in 2012, most of the fanbase feel good about Duran.  Most of us love AYNIN.  Our fandom has gotten stronger and we have gotten over the icky feelings during RCM.  This is important to the band’s future because…well, let’s face it.  They aren’t going to be bringing in a ton of new fans.  Yes, there will always be people who discover the band.  I’m sure that’s true for Elvis, too.  It isn’t like the Wedding Album era, though, when new fans came by the hundreds.  Now, it will be a slow trickle of new fans.  The truth is that there is little means of non-fans to be exposed to them.  They aren’t and probably won’t ever get radio play.  There is no MTV to showcase their latest video.  While youtube has their clips, people still have to choose to see them.  Thus, the band will need every fan that they can.  They need the majority of us to like what they do.  They need us to buy the albums and, even more importantly, to fill their concert venues.  They lose us or even a significant portion of us, they won’t be able to continue, at least, not in the way they are used to.  Besides, after all this time, shouldn’t they be wanting to make us happy?  We have been with them for years, for decades.  It could be a really nice way to show their appreciation.

-A

7 thoughts on “How Much Do the Hardcore Fans Matter?”

  1. Wow, that interviewer seems to be suffering from duranjealoustitus. Not sure why he kept hammering on revisiting the 80's. Anyone who actually listens to the album would know it doesn't sound like 80's music at all, it was more about going back to how they wrote and recorded in that time and paying a little homage to it.

    But about the fandom. It has changed over the years and I think there are a lot of fans like me who migrated away for a few years and have found our way back home. Duran Duran left a light on and that light is AYNIN.

    I think the reason hardcore fan engagement is important is due in part to iTunes where the ability to purchase individual songs from an album instead of the entire album has to have an effect on how sales are calculated. So now more than ever I can see how bands in general rely on hardcore fans to purchase full albums (and all the different mixes) and go to concerts. I think that's why Justin Bieber's fans have their “Go buy out all his CDs days” that they organize via social media. They're young and don't have anything else to spend their allowance on while us more mature Duran fans have families, mortgages, car payments, tuition, taxes…

    I'm not worried about Duran, though. They are outrageously talented, hip, marketing geniuses who know how to entertain and love their jobs. I just hope they stick with what works for them in the recording studio and trust themselves because that's what the fans want to hear. ~Betsi

  2. I am starting to seriously question if they do want/care about loyalty from their fans. They tour, but there are massive areas they don't visit very often (if ever) nor are the albums released worldwide and the fans in those areas feel alienated.

    Do they need every fan? Do they want every fan to buy albums? Maybe. But they really need to spread it around a bit more. Engage with people from all over a bit more. Just today John posted about coming back to Germany in summer. That's fabulous, but that makes fans in the neglected places really feel rotten. It may seem to people in the US and UK that they travel and tour loads, but they don't (ie travel far) and I know for a fact that loyal fans in some places are giving up on them (eg South Africa, NZ, Japan, The Netherlands, much of Asia etc).

    It's easy to be loyal if you live in Vegas, LA, Chicago, London, Texas etc and know you will not go longer than 18 months between shows within and hour or two, or can easily get to a show without passport/visa/currency/language barrier issues. I think the most loyal fans are the ones who've been there since 1981, despite no tours and limited albums/merchandise. And these fans are not seeing any sign of acknowledgement.

  3. I think you're right. I know it takes a lot to get a tour down to Australia, but it seems if you are going to go there, make @ least ONE stop in NZ, right? And I think they ought to consider more intimate venues for the African countries they want to play so they don't need to worry about underselling tickets and having to cancel. So what if they can't fill a large venue there. The economy there just may not support it right now. As for South America, they can play HUGE venues there. They will always have a good welcome from the fans there. I have seen the kind of energy a concert brings there and it is nuts! I hope they also get back and properly play Japan again. The cancelled dates from Astronaut never got properly rescheduled and then there have been so few dates since. And what ever happened to the release of the album there? I have not heard about a Japanese release @ all. Will they ever put it out and then tour with it? AYNIN was supposed to have Boys Keep Swinging on it as a bonus track in Japan. I am still waiting for that.

  4. Do I think that Duran should spread their attention around more? Absolutely. That said, I wasn't really addressing how they actually get their music out there in the world. Then, I would have talked about promotion, in general, social networking, marketing and touring. In my post, I was just focused on the music. My point being that when they are making new music, they need to worry about the hardcore fans instead of trying to get new ones.

    -A

  5. Someone asked JT how to get them to come to their city – he said call the radio station and get them to start playing their tunes. It all has to make sense fiscally for them and they have to know they're going to draw a crowd.

    When I was in junior high I headed a petition drive to get them to come to my city… 5,000 signatures later and we were on the schedule. So, it can be done. Good luck – every DD fan needs to see them live. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to see them as many times as I have. ~Betsi

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