Just a number on the metal fence

2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s humble beginnings in Birmingham, UK.  When I stop and think about that, I’m convinced of two things: 1. There’s obviously been a miscount. 2. Time really does fly.

There is a group out there that is working to collect data from fans-at-large in order to put together some suggestions that the band may or may not consider if they should decide to put together a tour or collectors editions from their catalog, etc.  I think it’s great to try to gather some sort of collective voice from the fans—after all, it is something Amanda and I have been doing for the better part of nearly seven years now.

When we first began the blog, I really don’t know that we gave thought or credence to the idea that the band would actually HEAR us. We just knew that there was a lack of a central…place…for lack of better words, for fans to gather and really talk about Duran Duran fandom.  Message boards were pretty scattered, fanzines didn’t really allow for discussion. Facebook was Facebook, and even that has changed quite a bit over the period of time the blog has been around, and rest assured it has evolved, too. Over the past four years or so (give or take), Amanda has asked daily questions and polls.  While she’s tried to do a variety of topics, a lot of them have had to do with songs, set lists, etc.  What is your favorite album? What song do you wish they’d play live, and so on. She’s great at being able to take that information and see trends, and I love the way she breaks it down in her wrap-up blogs on the weekends.

So, when I stumbled upon word that a group that is working to compile similar information for the possibility of shows and other special releases in 2018, I was curious. Amanda has done survey after survey in seven years, and while we could always use more participation – we have a reasonably sized sampling of those who are active on social media, and I remember how clear some of the winning songs have been over the years.  I wondered if they would get different answers than we might have gotten over the years for similar questions. Would their sampling be all that much different?  How would that change the results? I was looking forward to reading more about it all.

Amanda and I never did our daily questions with the intention that the information found would make its way back to the band. Unless management reads the blog, it isn’t like we’re sending a dossier to the band each year.  Yeah, we joke a lot, much of it being tongue-in-cheek, but we don’t expect much. For a time we were overly hopeful with grandiose dreams of meeting the band and somehow getting dream careers out of this – but believe me when I say that our feet are firmly planted back on the ground. (I almost said Planet Earth….) The blog is our hobby and about the only thing we take seriously about it is our dedication to writing it each day.

Yesterday I stumbled across what is apparently the top 10 list from the survey that @DD40_2018 compiled from the request survey they devised.

  1. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  1. Serious/Friends of Mine/Hold Back the Rain

  2. Election Day/New Religion

  3. The Chauffeur

  4. Secret Oktober

  5. Do You Believe in Shame

10 The Seventh Stranger

I was surprised that such a relatively new song like The Man Who Stole a Leopard would take away the entire survey, being the number one most requested song. When I looked back at some of the surveys we’d done in the past – specifically those that discussed set lists, The Man Who Stole a Leopard was always requested, but in the overall scheme of things, the song didn’t even make the cutoff for the 17-song setlist that Amanda compiled based on our survey results in October of 2016. (I’ve copied and pasted that list below).

Planet Earth
All You Need Is Now
New Religion
Wild Boys
The Chauffeur
New Moon on Monday
Save a Prayer
Pressure Off
Hold Back the Rain
Nice
Union of the Snake
Before the Rain
Come Undone
Rio
What Are the Chances
A View to a Kill
Paper Gods

Some of the rest of their top 10 list are the usual suspects, including Secret Oktober, Friends of Mine, Hold Back the Rain… and only one of those is included on the fan-requested set list we compiled. I see that What Are the Chances and Paper Gods are both included in our results and I have to wonder if those results would come out the same way if asked again tomorrow. I would bet not. Even so, the lists are very different.

Why is that? Well, to begin with it could be the survey itself.  As I recall, we had participants create their own set list back in October. So people sent in their own set lists, made from whatever songs they wanted – and I believe Amanda kept the framework to 17 songs. In contrast, the DD40_2018 survey had people choose the songs they wanted to hear most off of each album, but the songs were not ranked in terms of importance. So for example, if you wanted to hear five songs off of the first album – you clicked on those five songs and then moved on to the next album. There was no way to indicate which song(s) you might want to hear most. We’ve done similar in the past – and in every case, no matter how we’ve worked the survey, the song that wins by a landslide, is New Religion.  In their results, it landed at number five, behind a few songs that didn’t even make the final setlist in our case. Fascinating, right?

I also wonder if knowing that these suggestions will be presented to management for touring consideration made a difference to respondents.  In our case, the surveys have always been done for fun with no promise of the band paying any sort of attention. Does that make a difference in the way people answer? I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.

The sampling of participants for surveys counts as well.  As I’ve noted in the past, different people are drawn to different places on the web. Those that read here might not be on a message board, and those on Twitter might not be as active on Facebook, etc.  I also think the sample size matters as well – the more respondents a survey has, and the closer that sampling is to the actual demographic ratio of the fans, better the chance that the results will accurately represent our community. It isn’t always easy to get people to respond to a survey.

I’m not here to suggest that one method or one set of results outweighs another, that’s silly.  My interest is only to note the differences in the results. I might even make a broader claim, as it turns out, that perhaps no one survey is going to really provide an accurate assessment of what the fan community at large wants. What that may or may not mean with management actually taking such suggestions seriously, I don’t know.  Admittedly, Daily Duranie is not in such discussions with management or anyone else – we just write our blogs and do our surveys with the same basic goals in mind we always have: to provide a place for discussion and to make fandom just a little more fun.

-R

One thought on “Just a number on the metal fence”

  1. 1. Time really flies
    2. Keep up the amazing job
    3. I ‘d rather let the polls, questions and surveys be tools to keep the fun: I’m a little realistic, the set list is … what it is at the 39th year on the road!!!

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