Karaoke and Superfans…do we really need a tutorial?

This weekend I was out with my husband (I can’t even remember why we were actually out of the house without a child in tow…) and over lunch we had the oddest conversation. As we were eating lunch, completely out of nowhere, my husband asks me what I think would happen if one of the band members was in a karaoke bar (yeah, right there is when I should have tuned out…) and heard someone attempt to sing Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf. Sigh. To begin with, I really need everyone to understand that Duran Duran really doesn’t occupy THAT many of my thoughts on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s my weekend. So once I snapped into reality and recognized that yes, he really wanted my answer to this question. I rolled my eyes as only a wife can do, and said I didn’t know. Sadly, this wasn’t enough for my dear husband. He continued on saying “Let’s say it was Simon.” (Oh yes, let’s!) “Does he go up and sing a DD song, or does he sing something else?”  Sigh. More eye rolling. I really don’t know what he’d do. Why would Simon go to a karaoke bar anyway? Isn’t that sort of like my husband hanging out at a trade show just for the fun of it??

Yes, these are the sorts of conversations we’ll have when my husband is left to his own devices. I still haven’t answered him.  Luckily, I found another topic to badger him about. Any guesses from the rest of you out there??

In a desperate attempt to catch up on the RSS feeds I chose to ignore last week, I was scrolling through some this morning and came across an article about superfans.  While reading, naturally I referred back to our own fan community here.  It talks about things such as naming your fans, giving approaching fans undivided attention, tagging fans (or allowing fans to tag themselves, actually) in panoramic concert photos (as in taken from the stage), sharing “dark secrets” on the blog, developing shared symbols, playing smaller venues, and a few others.  If you are interested in reading the original article that I’m commenting about before blasting me with love notes about how ridiculous it is to use the term “Superfan”….read it here.

I stopped to consider why on earth the article ever needed to be written, not really whether or not Duran Duran fans meet the criteria or whether the band employs these methods. (We’ve been fans for over 30 years in many cases. That should pretty much answer that, yes?)  I almost liken this to attempting to write a chart-topping ‘hit’. If you’ve got to TRY to create superfans rather than just allowing it all to happen organically out of loyalty to the band or to the music, is it really the same thing? In our case, much of the time we’ve had relatively little contact with the band directly. Sure, they’ve come on tour and we’ve gone to see them, but unless you happen to live in the UK to visit them at the studio, their homes, etc…most of us have never that chance on a regular basis, if ever. We’ve stuck by them from the beginning because we believed in the music, and many times, it wasn’t anything more than a transactional relationship that kept us there. It’s only been as of late that the model has really evolved to where we have more opportunity for interaction – whether that is through having the opportunity to travel, to see them locally, to get involved in social media, or other methods. I like the theoretical ideas of Fan Empowerment or Direct-To-Fan. However, when it gets to the point where manuals are created on the “How To” of cultivating superfans rather than letting the music chart the direction and fan loyalty create the ties that bind, we’re running dangerously close to having the same synthetic and formulaic feeling of many ‘hits’ that top the charts today. It feels like being stuck in a studio with Timbaland. (Yes, I dared to say that.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that Duran Duran hoped to create loyal fans and that their attempts to reach us on Twitter or by creating a fan club early on were all about cultivating that loyalty. Was it all really that mind-numbingly calculated?  I suppose the proof is in the pudding – somebody drop me a line in twenty or thirty years and let me know how it works out for some of these newer bands and their fans.

-R

11 thoughts on “Karaoke and Superfans…do we really need a tutorial?”

  1. Ya know… fans will latch onto random things. Sometimes it becomes epic, sometimes it's just a short fancy then on to the next spell. There's casual fans and then there's diehard fans. I don't know that we really need to encourage the term “superfans” unless we get super powers and super privileges to go with the title… lol and I think we know better than that, yeah?

    What Simon would do in that position is entirely dependent upon how much liquor he'd already consumed… and maybe even which KIND of liquor he'd consumed… and if there are great boobs involved. LOL.

    Grey Rzeznik

  2. Hi Grey. I would agree with your assessments of both Simon at a karaoke bar and the term superfan. I merely read other music blogs, and believe it or not, there is seriously a bit of a “how to” for musicians – as in “how to create a legion of superfans from regular fans”. My blog wasn't really about whether or not I personally agree with the term though. Fandom is a spectrum, some fans are casual, others are diehard, just as you said. I don't take offense to the term superfan because they can call it whatever they want. I've been a fan of a band for 30 years. That alone makes me and others like me somewhat unusual. (although I prefer to be called “special”. :D)

    I'm still surprised that someone really felt like they needed to explain to bands how to create diehard fans. That was truly my point – not that I think people who have met them are any more or less special than anyone else, or that I really believe I'm a superfan as opposed to someone else. I never even give that nonsense a thought.

    I'm sorry that the real purpose of the blog seems to have been lost – I got a couple of responses that would indicate that at least a few readers were incensed that I would even suggest that such a thing as “superfan” exists. To those people I must say that first of all: I didn't come up with the word on my own – it was in reference to a blog written by someone else that I had read. Secondly, there is definitely a difference between someone who merely likes a band and someone who will follow them for many years (and I dare say that I think most of us around here meet that criteria) – we can call them diehard fans, we can call them superfans or something else entirely, but the fact is that they do exist. Fandom is a spectrum. Lastly, the different suggestions made in the original article that I referenced in my blog were not my ideas. I merely commented on them, and just so we're all clear – the point of my blog was that I was shocked that there even needed to be a tutorial for bands on the subject at all.

    If I can find the original blog article again – I will link it here so that perhaps my blog is better understood.

    -R

  3. I totally got your blog in the first place, I am surprised that others did not. I felt you explained it well, that you read other blogs that were a how to create superfans instruction manual for bands and quite frankly I think that notion is ridicilous as well. But in todays day personally I feel that many artists do not carry the same talent or longevity that Duran does (of course I am just a tad bias cuz I am a SUPERFAN (lol)…written in all caps to put empahsis on it like you'd say SUPERMAN) so maybe they feel like they have to create superfans…but anything forced doesn't work in my opinion. I like the response above that if we are to be called superfans then…we should get some kind of super powers that come along with it. Hmmm my mind wanders at what my Duran Superfan power would be………anyways until I get those super powers I will refer to myself a 30 yr Duranie as a “lifer” 🙂

  4. Totally agree with you and I'm very glad my writing made sense to somebody out there. I think that you are right…not many artists are like Duran Duran (which explains why I love them so), and so yes–they probably feel like they've got to force it, which I agree, won't work. Somebody can call me a t the Duranie Rest Home 'round about the time I'm hitting 70 and let me know how successful it all was! :). -R

  5. I wouldn't mind a cape with the new Duran look – interlocking D's or pink D lol

    But in all seriousness, if we think about contrived bands, or the new days of American idol and post star search type shows, that is the precursor to the notion of developing a superman from a band or singer (notice I'm not saying artist, talent, etc here). It is all created. Artificially so. Packaged. Isn't that what the reality star search shows do now? Training to see if you got what it takes for the marathon. So it is manualized. Let's face it, if you don't have it naturally on your own merits, and need a manual on how to create it, you arent an artist, talented, natural. Duran came together with their goal and vision and made it without a manual. Sure, people guided them, and every part of the journey has not destroyed them. Why? They are real. Not contrived. Not a one hit wonder. They want it more. And I don't see them writing a manual for others.
    Hope I'm making sense. And your blog definitely makes sense. Love it. Just a few days being.
    Deb

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