It is coming. Everyone in Duranland can feel it. #DD14 is coming. Pressure Off, the first single, is coming. Perhaps, more show announcements are on the horizon. Duranies knew this before this past week’s Katy Kafe but emotions surrounding the upcoming Duran happenings spiked in response. Why? Simple. As part of the Kafe, Roger said that there were some surprises on the album, including a big one with a first name starting with the letter “B”. This, of course, in typical Duranie fashion got the speculation running wild. Who could it be? Bowie? Boy George? Brandon Flowers? Beyonce? Bruno Mars? While each of those guesses produced mixed reactions, an underlying feeling began to present itself. The feeling? A mixture of hopefulness, anticipation, and anxiety.
Why the anxiety? Wouldn’t all big fans be excited for new Duran music? Of course. Fans can’t wait to hear new music. We all can’t wait to see articles written about the band’s latest work and we so look forward to promotional activities and appearances! That isn’t where the concern lies. As we know, there are a ton of collaborations on this album. Most of them are people who have been in the musical spotlight as of late. Certainly, Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers, Kiesza and Janelle Monae have all experienced a lot of success lately. This leads to a myriad of thoughts and worries for many Duranies.
Why can’t Duran do an album just themselves? Why do they need so many collaborations? What is the goal? Is it to make the best DURAN DURAN album or is it to make a hit? Is commercial success the focus or is it the art? Is it the music? Will it feel like Duran Duran? How will this album be marketed? Will the focus be on getting new fans only or will hardcore fans who have been around for decades be acknowledged?
There are just a few of the concerns I have seen, heard or even said myself. I would guess that there might be even more out there. Before I get the usual negative responses and comments, let me see if I could explain where these concerns are coming from, especially if you are a fan reading this that isn’t concerned.
I believe that all (or mostly all) fans want the band’s upcoming album to be one that is successful. Of course, we do. We want the band to experience success and we want to love what it sounds like. This would make it more likely, I believe, for the band to continue beyond this album. Yet, fans who have been around for a long time have seen albums not go as planned and ones that have created backlash. Goodness, just this week, I posted a poll with songs off of Medazzaland and Pop Trash and was told how those albums weren’t liked. I won’t forget what it was like and still like whenever Red Carpet Massacre is mentioned. There is division in the fan community about that album, like it or not. All fans I know want to have an album that they can love and can be excited about. There is just concern that this album won’t be one of those–that doesn’t mean it won’t be but just that there are concerns especially when there are so many others on the album and the focus seems to be on getting a “hit”. Many fans don’t mind if the band gets a hit, obviously, but many want it to happen naturally because the band produced a Duran Duran song that just happened to get people’s attention and love. Think Ordinary World. As much as that song isn’t high on my list of favorites, I, too, can acknowledge that it was a genuine Duran song that just happened to find commercial success. It wasn’t written solely for the hit.
Then, there are concerns about the marketing surrounding this new album. Again, most fans I know are happy with Duran Duran getting new fans. How could we not be? We were all new fans once, right? We all discovered them at some point, yes? Yet, no one wants to be ignored or taken for granted. After all, getting the diehard Duranies excited could help their cause, too. I know that I, personally, have gotten non-Duranies to check out their music because of how much I have talked about them. I know that I have gotten people to become fans by taking them to shows. That happens all the time and can definitely happen with albums or singles, specifically. Heck, it happens all the time with all sorts of fandom beyond Duran Duran. How often do people go to a movie or check out a TV show simply because they have heard a lot of people talking about it? How often do people check out new music for the very same reason? It happens all the time. In this case, Duran Duran has a built in fan promotional machine, if they just gave the fans something to work with. If diehard Duranies got excited, REALLY got excited, we would talk up the new material in epic amounts. The social media world wouldn’t really know what hit. Look at how we got things like Duran Duran Appreciation Day to trend. That was the fans doing that. The fans could do that for this album, too, as long as we are included in the marketing package. I’m not saying that the band and label shouldn’t try to get new fans. What I am saying is that they should do something to have the Duranies help them sell more, too. It would also help minimize the worries about the collaborations, too. Fans would be too busy being excited and getting others to be excited that the concerns would simply be pushed to the back of minds. This would reinforce Duranies’ fandom, too, ensuring that all of us stick around for a very long time, too. To me, that matches everything I know about good marketing as well. You want to keep the customers you have happy, while trying to get new ones.
It would be a win-win-win, for the band, for the label and for the fans. Then, I suspect any and all worries would be wiped away.