James Cole Winery Listening Party, 2015

Do you remember March 28, 2015?  I do. It was a day of envy, pride, joy, and jealousy.

On that date, Duran Duran appeared at a label (Warner Bros) event at James Cole Winery. It was a party designed to schmooze radio personnel and DJs by giving them a taste of Duran Duran circa 2015.  “Pressure Off” was played, and the band spent time working the room alongside label execs.

We fans were treated to a bit of hastily recorded video recorded by cell phone that was widely broadcast by any fan who got hold of the link. We marveled at the song, and wondered what the rest of it might sound like. Most of us would have given our eye teeth and then some to have been in that room.

Honestly, I just wanted to taste the wine.

Ok, not really. I mean, I like Duran Duran alongside a good Cabernet.

I mean listening to Duran Duran while sipping a good cab.

I’d best quit while I’m ahead.

Funny enough, Amanda and I had an idea for a listening party once. We actually had the audacity to think that with social media these days, what the band really needed were the fans. A good way to utilize their ever-loyal fan base these days would be to hold an intimate listening party that was truly an experience for a relatively small fans in a controlled, but very exclusive yet relaxed environment. No one listens to radio these days, and radio doesn’t play new Duran Duran anyway, we thought. They needed a different, and quite frankly better way of reaching their fans on a personal level. Why wouldn’t such an idea work? It would be fairly cheap, but mean the world to the fans, who would then be ready to shout from the rooftops about how great this album was going to be, and do whatever needed done…because that’s how an army of fans work. Look at any artist today, from Taylor Swift down to even Panic at the Disco! – they all USE their fans, and they do it by having events just like what we were thinking of. Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

So we sent off a proposal to the powers that be. It was the first proposal we’d ever written for something like this, and I’m sure we left things out – like how it would profit the label. We were extremely foolish and naive when I think back on it. (In all honesty – nobody at a label cares about fans.  Our feelings about a band or a record do not equate dollar sign…except they really do…but what do I know? I can say this for sure: labels care about money. That’s it. You and I and anyone else who buys a record is purely a dollar sign. They don’t even care about your legs being attached to you unless you use them to buy another song or album!) We should have run a study to show how each person that went to an event like that translates into a certain number of dollars earned for the label. Dollars matter. Fans and loyalty? Who cares!

In my head, that’s the part that everyone in the entire industry is missing…but I digress. The past is the past, and I still have a story to tell.

You can imagine what happened next, but I’ll share it anyway. Our answer to our proposal? Dead silence, from label to management…not even a note of “Gee thanks, but go back to your silly little blog and leave the tough stuff to us.”  Months went by, and then….an announcement of a listening party for radio DJs and music industry people. It sounded far too familiar, even if it wasn’t. Yes, it stung, even if it was purely coincidental.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything here – because it isn’t as though Amanda and I cornered the market on good ideas, or even so-so ideas.  However, I am saying whatever party they had sure didn’t seem to work well.

Out of curiosity, how many times did you hear radio play “Pressure Off” where you live?

My own answer? None. Not even one time, even on radio stations where the band had been interviewed. Invariably they’d have the interview and play an older DD song instead. It was less-than-helpful, or so it seemed. Even the NFL played “Pressure Off” in what I hope was a hefty licensing deal for the band, but not a single radio station in my area ever played it. But does anyone really even listen to radio anymore anyway? My kids tell me no, that they listen to Spotify. (This explains more than I care to know, or explain to my husband about our data usage…)

Granted, maybe having those folks actually play “Pressure Off” on their stations wasn’t the goal. I really don’t know. It would just seem to me that the whole reason for having such an event would be so that they’d be more enticed to play the song, even if the party was more about relationship building than selling an upcoming album. I could be wrong. Admittedly, I’m a layperson. What do I know anyway?

So yes, I remember this date. I remember hearing “Pressure Off” for the first time. I also remember how much pride and joy my heart felt that day, and those feelings mean a lot more than an unanswered idea for a listening party. Live and learn.

-R

 

3 thoughts on “James Cole Winery Listening Party, 2015”

  1. Pressure Off was the first single of the band’s that I did not hear on the radio at any point in a very long time. Before that, I heard Sunrise, What Happens Tomorrow, Falling Down and All You Need is Now at LEAST a few times on terrestrial radio. Granted, it’s possible I might have missed a play somewhere by not being in the right place at the right time. But I am stunned that the song even made it to #33 on the Adult Top 40 chart somehow. Other than TV interviews, I didn’t hear it anywhere… which is a shame, since it is a good song and was probably their strongest single since the reunion era.

    To be fair to the band as well, I sort of see why having a fan-only listening party might bring upon some complexities in their own right… Who gets invited? How do we go about it? Do we know what type of fans we’ll be getting ourselves into here? It’s also possible that they might have thought stuff like that might be done down the line somewhere, only to not get around to it for whatever reason (I know some RCM tracks were played in a similar environment before the album came out, so it’s not without precedent).

    And respectfully, I’m not entirely convinced a fan-only deal would have made much more of a difference in terms of promoting it. There certainly would have been happy people posting about whatever on social media. But if cell phone recordings weren’t allowed or the environment was tightly controlled somehow, I can’t really see it benefiting many other people besides the fans who were there, unless something very specific was in mind and even possible. Beyond that, I’m not sure the event would have reached many beyond the people who were fans already, at least in terms of promoting or grabbing someone else’s attention.

    So in that regard, I can see where playing a song at an event full of music industry people may have done a slightly better job in respects to telling others “Hey, there’s an album coming out and here’s a song from it!” Especially if some of them weren’t even much into the band to begin with. And maybe it did? The album did get a significant chart placement for this day and age and the song, despite not really getting much airplay overall, did chart somehow. That’s a lot better than some albums from the past. The tour and album seemed to do pretty good at this point in their career, so I guess it was success in those regards. But I do agree that the single didn’t exactly enter the public consciousness either, which is a shame. That will always be my primary complaint about the Paper Gods era, personally.

    1. Hi Trevor,

      I don’t disagree with much of what you said. As I said in my post, we were very naive. We did outline and answer many of the questions you had with regard to the complexities of a fan-only listening party in our proposal – and the RCM party you mentioned was through a radio station, but overall you’re probably not wrong. I don’t know that I completely agree that a fan-thing would not have worked any better, because I don’t see that the industry party did much of anything other than leak the new song, but I can’t really say for certain. If that’s all they were trying to do was leak Pressure Off, there were far better ways to do it.

      The reality is that I’m not in the industry, and yeah – I was looking out for fans. That’s kind of our thing here. I’ve learned a lot in the days since then, but I had to make comment on it just because that’s what I remember when this day comes around on the calendar.That was my first and last foray into the promotion environment though. From now on I’m sticking to fans and fandom studies. 😀 -R

  2. I remember I watched the clip passed along shared on the social media and spent time guessing how it could sound.
    I guess for the 40th annviersary stuff and for the new album, they are working thru again different strategies.

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