How To Breathe Life Back into a Fanbase

You begin by planting tiny seeds…a hint of Rio here, a little talk of a new video there, teasing by way of playing 30 second snippets here, and Mark Ronson proclaiming his love for the band there….next thing you know you’ve got Simon LeBon tweeting away, and John Taylor on Facebook and actively tweeting (which I still say is either a miracle or a sign that the apocalypse is coming!)…and finally, last night – they all blew our minds by releasing what I think is ultimately going to end up being one of the benchmark albums of their career.

We wanted that classic Duran Duran sound?  We wanted them to have fun making music again?  We wanted the music to have integrity and be REAL?  How does it feel to have the band come through for us?  From my seat – it’s amazing.  I am loving this ride and hope it continues for a long time to come.

Last night, I downloaded the album at 9:18 pm PST.  A bit early, yes.  It was to be released at midnight, I believe – but I also believe in getting places early rather than just on time.  Allows for more time to celebrate once you’re there, and I swear that’s about all of I’ve done since I first listened.  The fact is, and I don’t mind saying this here now:  I’ve had the album, rather a crappy sounding version of it, for a week or two now.  I’d heard it all well before last night, and I had a very tough time not talking all about it here, and yes – I even acted as though I hadn’t heard it at all.   I’m good like that.  The fact is, while I’d heard a version of it and nearly wet myself listening the first time, I knew that once I’d downloaded it from iTunes – it would be even better.   It did not disappoint.  I can’t even tell you how much better the released version truly is (it’s the bit rate…makes all the difference!).    This blog isn’t a review of the album though (that will come in due time – I want to sit with it and ponder it before tackling each song), this blog is about us.  The fans.

In the past several weeks I have had the privilege of seeing the fanbase going from being very quiet and almost non-existent to exuberant.  Boards that have not had traffic in weeks are suddenly springing back to live as though they’ve been mainlined with coffee.  (as I have today.  Well, not really, but the coffee maker and I are very good friends.)  What I once felt was most assuredly a castaway ship in the middle of nowhere – bailing water fast – now seems to have found some wind and is setting sail.

All the band had to do was put out a good album?  I don’t think so.  I mean yes – I don’t want to take that away from them because they definitely have done their job and done it well, but the fact is, it’s not just the music.  I’m sure the band would LOVE for it to be just about the music at this point, but it’s not.  In 1985 it wasn’t just about the music.  Their videos really helped to set the world on fire.  It’s now 2010 (who’s counting?!) and once again – it’s not just the music.  I think the band may have found the vital piece to the puzzle they’ve been missing all along – and that’s the connection to their fan base.  I realize that some might not see it that way, but here’s the reality:  this album could have just as easily been released 6 months ago (I realize some of the songs hadn’t been written yet – but that’s not the point).  They could have come out, said the album was coming out and handled the release in very much the same way as they did Astronaut or even RCM.  Their core fan base would have bought the album, and then it would have been done.  Then what?  They’d tour, etc. etc.   Same results.  Yeah, more people may have bought this album because it’s a product that is truer, more authentic, to the Duran Duran “brand”, so to speak….but I don’t believe it would have made the same splash/ripple effect that it’s making today.  Why is that?  SOCIAL NETWORKING.  We’ve got John Taylor – the man who said he wouldn’t tweet – on Twitter.  He’s talking to fans, he’s posting news tidbits, he’s on FACEBOOK for crying out loud.  I’m even “friends” with him.  He commented on a friends wall just today!    It’s a lot harder to ignore Duran Duran when you’ve got John Taylor talking to you and trying his best to keep that connection flowing between the band and the fans, don’t you think?

I’m just a fan like anyone else.  I write a blog, I notice the social implications of things, I like studying pop culture – but I’m still a fan.  I feel a lot closer to the band today than I did a year ago – I’ll tell you that.  I think the band actually cares.  It’s a lot tougher to say that the band is only interested in our money when they seem to be genuinely concerned about what we think.  I know that back just a few short years ago, I was starting to question my own fandom and what it really meant.  It’s hard not to question it at times when you hear all about how other bands come out after shows and talk to fans, or offer REAL meet and greets to their VIP’s where the band members take the time for individual photos and don’t act like the fans are totally bothering them by being there.  As much as I know the shows and dealing with the fans are a job for them just like changing my daughters diaper is for me (hmm…somehow, I just don’t think it’s quite the same….), when you’re the fan and you’re standing there listening to a band member tell someone that they don’t have to be out talking to the fans when they can be in a private room in peace, or that they get sick of playing the same songs every night – it becomes a lot tougher to feel like the band even wants you there.  Then again, maybe they didn’t at the time.  Regardless, this newer, friendlier, more approachable Duran Duran is a welcome change, and I think they’re about to recognize the fruits of their labor.

So today, on this day of their 13th official release, we are STILL the ones who make the noise, aren’t we?  Thirty years and the fans are still going strong.  Now if that’s not something to embrace, celebrate….and a reason to travel to the UK to continue to celebrate and embrace….I just don’t know what is.

Welcome back Duranies.  Welcome home.

-R

One thought on “How To Breathe Life Back into a Fanbase”

  1. Well said, partner! It seems to me that the stars have aligned for this. Okay, maybe it is just the planet, the moon and the sun to create last night's rare lunar eclipse but it sure feels like something special is taking place. They should be proud of what they have accomplished. Their hard work both in and out of the studio is paying off for them and for us!

    -A

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