Duran Duran and The Monkees. Is there a connection for fans?

I said this on Facebook yesterday, but it bears repeating here.  I always wondered what it would be like when one of my teen idols died.  Of course you always think they’ll always be here, especially if it’s one you’ve grown up with because let’s face it – they’ve always been there.  Well, yesterday, I found out what it’s like.  As everyone who is reading already knows, Davy Jones of The Monkees died yesterday.  He was 66 years old, and although almost every article I’ve read has a different story, it seems that he died of a heart attack.

When I first heard, I was quick to dismiss the report.  “Impossible”, I wrote on Facebook.  I even said “No.”  I just refused to believe such things.  Then of course I went and searched and found entirely too many articles reporting the same news to ignore.  I can’t really explain the sadness and horror that went through me at that point. One of the first things I remembered was sitting on my parents old couch in our living room in Glendora, California where I grew up.  I was probably about 3 or 4, and every single day I would watch The Monkees with my mom at lunch time.  I have a feeling she was a big “closet” fan! I’d eat my PB&J  (That’s peanut butter and jelly) and watch the show.  This was in 1973 or 1974, so the show had long run it’s course and was in reruns. (The show began in 1966 and ran for only 2 seasons)  I didn’t know the difference.  I loved the show, and it was squeaky clean.  No wonder my mom didn’t mind watching the show with her preschooler!  I had a crush on Davy Jones before I even knew what the word meant.  The funny thing was that although it was obvious that Davy was the cute one, and I did love him – I actually loved Mike Nesmith every bit as much. (I always seem to go for the quiet underdog types!)  Regardless, they were a childhood favorite, and I own all of their albums.  I even went to see them in concert back in the 80’s when they reunited, and had planned to see Davy Jones when he came near me in concert later in the spring.  So yesterday was a shock.

I posted the news on Facebook, figuring that I’d get a few “Oh, that’s sad”, and I’d be alone in my sadness, pouring my grief into my shamrock shake over lunch.  (or is that pouring the shamrock shake into ME…??)  Oddly, more and more of my friends commented on just how grief-stricken they were by the news.  I had no idea so many of my friends, Duran Duran friends and otherwise, were as captivated by the show and music as I was!  One of my friends even commented that she thought of The Monkees as her “gateway drug” to Duran Duran.  That one thought brought a smile to my face, because that is exactly how it was.  My goodness, I was only about three years old when I watched The Monkees!  I learned about music from the show, I learned what it was like to be a teen idol, and more appropriately, how to be a fan, albeit a young fan at that!  I suppose you could say I cut my teeth on The Monkees, and I was not the only one.

It was no different on Twitter.  I was shocked by how many fellow DD fans were pouring out their condolences and grief.  One of our Twitter friends (@ladouleur_xquis) made mention of exactly what I was noticing – that a LOT of Duran Duran fans were fans of The Monkees, and suggested that might be a good blog topic, and so here we are.  What is the commonality?? I’m no expert, but I can suggest a few things:

1. A music fan is a music fan, no matter the age.  A case in point is my youngest.  She is a HUGE fan, and I’m only slightly unnerved that Big Time Rush may end up being her version of The Monkees.  She loves music.  She learns the words to songs incredibly fast – and not just Duran Duran songs either!  She knows Crazy Train by Ozzy, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, all of the Big Time Rush songs, and even I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones among many, many others.  Part of this is due to me (yep, I’m taking credit) because I listen to JackFM – the only station that will play AC/DC next to Spandau Ballet.  We don’t do Barney in my house.  My older two never took to music the way that the youngest does though, and I fully expect to be driving her to whatever band becomes her obsession.  (and I’m looking forward to it!)

2. Maybe we went for the videos even when we were young?  I loved watching The Monkees on TV, and seeing Duran Duran on TV in videos was really no different – except that I knew what a crush was by then!

3. Duran Duran is a pop band, even if we gave them fancy names like “New Wave” over the years.  Yes, it pains me to write that sometimes, but it’s the truth. The Monkees were pop as well – even if they were a bit more on the bubble gum side of things.  I think that musical taste develops far earlier than we might really think, and really – The Monkees were probably more than appropriate for my little mind at the age of 3 or 4.  I didn’t understand what Pleasant Valley Sunday meant, but I knew the words – and was allowed to actually sing them too!

4.  I can’t ignore the cute factor.  I’d love to pretend that even as a preschooler I was super scholarly and knew it was about the music, but the truth is – The Monkees were cute! They even had their own resident pinup in just the same way that we did (x5 of course).  I still went for the quiet, more serious one… hmm.

Any more to add??

Last night on Piers Morgan, he interviewed a very melancholy Micky Dolenz.  I really felt for Micky because it was very clear he was completely shellshocked.  He did his best to share some of his thoughts and memories, and I did my best not to burst into tears as I listened.  One of the things Micky shared was that the initial vision for The Monkees was to do the American version of A Hard Days Night.  This morning as I was watching Nickelodeon (remember, I’ve got a 3 year old in the house…the TV is not ever MINE…), I saw an ad for Big Time Rush’s new movie.  The music in the background?  A Hard Days Night.


It’ll be interesting to see how they’re viewed in 30 years.  American icons?  Forgotten disaster?  I know plenty who jeered The Monkees over the years for being corporate pop and being the absolute worst that the Hollywood “suits” had to offer at the time.  Keep in mind they were among the first, if not THE first “band” put together for the sake of a television show…and yet they found plenty of love in later years.  Will history repeat?


Too Much Information (not really!)

News news news…I think I’ve got a little bit of everything to share this morning!

For those of us going through show withdrawals, a LIVE DVD of a recent show in Manchester England is coming out very soon. The DVD, titled, A Diamond in the Mind, Duran Duran – A Performance – 2011, will be released in early summer of 2012!  Hopefully it’ll tide us all over until we can get ourselves to another show, because as I am fond of saying – when the natives get restless, Duranies will eat one another for breakfast!!!  In addition, I know that David Lynch DVD of Unstaged is coming soon.  Nick…our fearless controller and keeper of DuranTime…has been mixing that in his “spare time”.  I’m hoping we see that DVD before I retire, but if not…it will still prove useful for many a Duranie drinking game, I am sure.  “When you see a hot dog superimposed on the screen, you must drink!”  Cheers!!!

Girl Panic!!  Did anyone happen to catch the interview John did for a Dubai website? One of the topics was the Girl Panic video.  So far it has been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.  John mentions that despite so many views, he doesn’t believe it’s sold even one extra mp3, then follows up by saying “you can see how the model has changed.” I see it, the band sees it, but how does one work with it?!  I’m the first to admit here, I have no ideas. I don’t understand how a video can be viewed so well and still not push sales.  It’s a good thing I’m not a manager.  Does anyone really know?  Amanda and I traded emails about this very topic last night.  I feel as though while no, the band does not need to sell as they did back in 1984 (although lets be honest here – that’d really be nice for them) – sales still matter.  Live shows are great, and sure, they could become a purely live show band and stop writing, but somehow I suspect that wouldn’t be enough.  What to do…what to do…

Warren fans take heed…TV Mania is coming!!  Anyone who has been reading Salvo’s Duranasty website (and everyone should!) knows that the day has finally come where TV Mania will be released…sometime this year. I detected a slight annoyance in Warren’s tone when he described the release as “Yeah, ten years later.”  That nasty Duran-time seems to bleed into everything, doesn’t it?  There’s no real promotion set up for this release, as Nick mentioned that he’d be touring with Duran Duran, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.  Watch this space, as I’m sure Daily Duranie will be reviewing this project!

Dom Brown was really singing the blues several days back (corny? absolutely!!) when his hard drive, containing the brand new blues album he has been working on with his father, decided it’s time was up. Poor Dom made mention of this last night on Twitter.  “It wasn’t a good place to be for a day or so…. so reliant on technology it’s a little frightening!!” Luckily, it all ended on a good note, thanks to a marathon 16 hour mixing session to finish!  Looking forward to hearing the fruits of all of that labor, as I’m sure Daily Duranie will be doing a review (we’re going to be really busy with reviews!) as soon as the album is available!  I’ve also made a mental note to back up my computer today, thanks to Dom.  Our entire manuscript is on this laptop, and while Amanda also has a copy on hers – I worry about losing the work I’m currently revising (that blasted social network chapter!)  If my hard drive crashed right now, I’d be spending some quality time with my Grey Goose vodka and some olives, that is for sure.

In other fangirl news…I am seeing reports right now that Davy Jones, once of The Monkees, has passed away from a heart attack.  He was 66 years old.  Now, let me just share that while I’ve not mentioned this publicly, I was a HUGE FAN of THE MONKEES.  Huge.  I wasn’t even born when their show was on the air, but I watched reruns every. single. day.  I can remember eating my PB&J’s, sitting on the couch, watching The Monkees each lunchtime. (my mom was pretty cool about letting me eat in the living room, apparently)  They were truly my first “crush” I suppose…and I’ve even seen them in concert back when they reunited.  Daydream believer?  You bet…and at the age of 3 and 4 I probably thought I was going to marry Davy Jones.  It didn’t quite occur to me that there was a significant age difference and that by the time I was watching that show, he was already 5 or 6 years older than what I was seeing.  Never mind that.  I was taking that Last Train to Clarksville and I was definitely meeting him at the station, just as soon as I could read a map!   My heart is very, very heavy at the moment.  I was planning to go see him when he came in concert near me later this spring.

I’m going to go play some of my Monkees albums, and be thankful that a few of my idols are still walking this planet with me……   And they’d better KEEP on walking!


All She Wants Is…

The universe works in mysterious ways. Yesterday was not a good day. I had traded emails with Amanda and she’d mentioned that perhaps it was a good idea to mention some good things the band does with regard to their fan community, as to create a better balance. My response was that I didn’t want to post a bunch of things that the band does well because we cover good things on a nearly daily basis, and that it wouldn’t feel genuine to me. I didn’t give the idea much thought and went about spreading my “good cheer” elsewhere.

It wasn’t much later that I began reading another book on fandom, this time it was a book on being a Bobcat – a Bob Dylan fan. I really had no idea or expectations when I started the book because, truth be told, I don’t know much about Bob Dylan beyond what I learned in college. (I took Rock Music history courses as part of my American Studies major – the beauty of pop culture!!)

One thing became crystal clear before I was even thirty pages into the book: Dylan does absolutely nothing with his fans. No fan community. No meet and greets. No Q&A sessions. No Facebook. No Twitter. No news. I’m not even sure he’s actually MET his fans before, and they definitely don’t go following him back to the hotel after the shows. The author even goes as far to make the assertion that Bob Dylan has family members he hasn’t even met yet! This fandom is absolutely 100% about the music. Admittedly, I don’t get it…which is why I’ve got to keep reading the book. You can bet I’ll be reporting back here soon.

As I made that realization, that yes there are bands and artists out there that do far, far less than what I know, I thought back to the conversation I’d had with Amanda via email earlier in the day and ruefully grinned. I knew what I’d be blogging about this morning. Damned universe making me say nice things about this band…

Here is the thing: Duran Duran isn’t the problem. The BAND is not the problem. John Taylor does do his part by coming onto Twitter and occasionally posting. Simon LeBon exchanges tweet with fans when he feels like it. I have to say that in both cases, I appreciate the fact that they aren’t slaves to Twitter. That really is not the point. Instead, they post when they wish to do so, and that feels normal, healthy and real. Sure, I wish that happened more often, but you know, we make due. I also don’t have time to spend on Twitter 24/7, and I would hope the same for everyone else. Roger does a decent job on Facebook, especially for someone who has a baby at home. I know Dom is in the middle of mixing his album with his dad…and Nick….well…Nick is busy! The fact is, we have a reasonable idea of what they’re up to, what they’re doing – and they tell us. I don’t really think it’s always been that way. I can say that at least for me, I would be listening to the radio back in the 80’s and be shocked and surprised to hear a new song from them after many months of what felt like crossing the Sahara desert! (meaning no news, no new music, no nothing)  We get a little more news today, so yes, that is progress.

My point in bringing the subject of fan communities to the blog wasn’t to bash the band. If you read our blogs, I think we’re pretty fair overall. I never wanted to be that fan…the one that  thinks every single thing the band does is fantastic even when it’s really not. I will never be the one to tell them that they are awesome (I know how much they “love” that California term, which is why I’m using it!) and that I love them and please follow me on Twitter…I’m the one that is going to tell it like I see it and hear it, even if if means sticking my neck out and feeling some bruises from the flogging I occasionally get from our readers when I dare to criticize the band or the machine that is Duran Duran.

I wanted to bring some questions and concerns forward.  There are plenty of South American fans – many of whom are not in the paid fan community simply because there just isn’t enough to offer them, and yet there is no attempt to reach out to those fans. Surely there must be a better way.

I wanted to look at how other bands handle their fan communities. Sure, there are great things about the paid fan community. I like Katy Kafe, and when we get exclusive video clips and things, they’re fun. Presales are great if you’re lucky enough to get good tickets at those presales. The paid fan community often has contests for members, and sometimes the prizes are unique. All of these individual things have the potential to make a fan community fun and worthwhile, no argument from me.

One thing I continually see from Duran Duran, specifically when it comes to the internet and the new marketing model is that they seem to be rushing to catch up.  That never used to be the case with the band. I always saw them as innovative when it came to music and video, but the truth is, when it comes to the internet I think they are pretty far behind. I am sure that some of this is the learning curve. The music industry today is not what it once was.  The rules are so different now, and yes – it’s really tough to adapt.  They need to have the right mix of people around who are not afraid to try new and “really out there” methods to get things done.  Not “understanding” the internet is simply no excuse. (and before someone sends me mail – take your hand off of that “reply” button – I might not be referring to the BAND when I write that!)

Perhaps the best thing I can do is give examples of creativity.  Yesterday one of our friends on Twitter sent me an article.  Thanks to @Jonfromspenny to sending this my way.

Pop Stars Work the Web


Careless Memories – The Daily Duranie Review

 Our reviews continue with Careless Memories!


Musicality/Instrumentation: The overall theme for this entire album is balance, and I can’t think of enough varying and interesting ways to say that over and over again.  Every musician knows his part and provides their piece to the picture without overpowering.  This is the Duran Duran I know.  I also want to say that there just isn’t another synthesizer player out there…anywhere…that can really create an atmosphere in two 4-count bars the way that Nick Rhodes is able.  Another thing I will say is that Roger is a drum god on this song.  I have had the “opportunity” to hear the song with other drummers behind the set (and I know we’re supposed to be reviewing the original version here), and there is NO ONE who can play this like Roger.

Vocals:  Whatever happened to singing songs in this key?  I have to say, I love the darker tone to Simon’s voice on this entire album.  What I don’t really understand is why, after this album – all we hear from Simon are songs written much higher for him, with a ton of harmonization in the chorus.  Don’t get me wrong, those songs are great and they do make Simon’s voice entirely recognizable – but so are the ones such as this, because his voice has such a fantastic tone when singing in this key.  It’s gorgeous and I wish they’d record more like this.

Lyrics: I must say that there have been certain moments in my life where I have played this song on “max” and felt every last word deep in my soul, and made me want to yell the lyrics right along with Simon (Ok, so he’s not yelling – he’s singing, but I’d be yelling.) This is one of those Duran Duran songs that isn’t incredibly difficult to understand and feel, yet sounds like poetry, albeit perhaps a little angry.  It’s not as though the words are beautiful and paint a happy picture; but they are feelings that all of us have from time to time, and I think that’s why this song works so well.  Fans get it, and we concur!!

Production:  I like the production of this song because it sounds simple and not overdone.  I don’t hear that wall of sound coming at me where I can’t really tell a guitar from the keyboards. I can hear a clear bass, and the beauty is that I can actually HEAR THE NOTES.  Nowadays I sometimes have real difficulty understanding what is truly instrumentation and what was messed with production-wise.  Granted, I’m an amateur, but I know what I like, and it was executed rather well back in the early 80’s with this song.

Overall:  The beauty of Careless Memories is that even today, I still love this song.  It still means something to me, and I’m able to relate to the words and rock to the music the way I did when I was 11 or 12. (some might say it means even more to me now that I’m grown!)  It’s really amazing how much of Duran Duran’s catalog does not sound dated. I am a firm believer that at least part of that has to do with the production.  Just wait until we get to the Liberty album…  There is something very classic and pure about rock, and that’s what this song is to me.  It’s as rock as Duran Duran is going to get, and I completely appreciate the balance, the words, the production and the fact it still makes me want to dance.

Cocktail Rating:  5 cocktails!

Amanda’s Take:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  Oh my goodness!  Where exactly do I start?  This song begins with that atmospheric sound that seems to go back and forth that we all recognize now.  This sound immediately puts the listener on notice that the song is going to one that you can’t ignore.  It is going to grip you and isn’t going to let go until the very end.  Then, throughout the majority of the songs, there is the perfect combination of instrumentation that early Duran did so well with.  If you listen carefully, each instrument is noticeable and solid.  Then, if you step back, there is a perfect balance in that they all work together.  This song reminds me of many paintings in that way.  It is amazing up close but also fabulous from a distance.  When you focus on the details, you notice how amazing those details are.  Yet, when listening to it as a whole, the overall sound is awesome as well.  Of course, one of my favorite parts is when Roger and Nick step into the spotlight in a kind of call and answer moment, which ends only to build more intensity as the song reaches its climax.  In this case, the climax is when there is the swirl of sound that seems to increase in intensity and volume until the sounds fade away at the end.

Vocals:  The thing about Simon’s vocals in this song that always strikes me is how natural they are.  There doesn’t seem to be a big push for him to do something that he can’t or isn’t comfortable with.  It feels like the song was written for exactly where Simon’s range really is.  Of course, this doesn’t stop the emotion coming through, especially with the repetition of “look out, look out, look out.”  His warning comes through without making it forced. 

Lyrically:  Lyrically, this song always makes me smile.  I know that doesn’t seem to make any sense since it isn’t a happy song.  On the surface, the song seems to be about a break-up and how one reacts to the break-up.  On one hand, the person tries to blow it off with “it’s not as though it really mattered” while admitting that it bothers him “so easy to disturb with a thought or a whisper”.  So, the person tries to find a “new day”.  Yet, as with any other Duran song that works, these lyrics can be applied to other situations.  I know that I have often applied them to my personal fandom with Duran as I have had moments when I have tried to walk away and that they keep sucking me back in.  The lines like, “cause I don’t want to meet you.  I’d think I’d die, I know I’d cry, What I am supposed to do…follow you,” seem terribly fitting.

Production:  Like with every other song on this album, I wish that I had been there in the studio or wherever the writing and recording was done.  I want to hear the conversation about giving Nick and Roger the spotlight.  I want to hear how they made sure that all instruments could be heard both individually and as a collective piece.  That balance, that still what strikes me, what impresses me.  To me, it is how music should always be done.

Overall:  This song really works on all levels.  I love that it is one of “harder”, more “rock” songs in the Duran catalog.  The instruments and the lyrics fit to create this intense, can’t ignore one’s complex feelings type of song.  It is one song I absolutely love to hear live!!!

Cocktail Rating:  5 cocktails!!!


The Typical Fan

Am I the typical fan?  Are you?  I hear this phrase get bounced around so much and yet I doubt that many of us think much about it.  I know that I really didn’t until we started writing this blog and started writing our book.  What does that phrase mean?  How do you define typical?  I suppose in our case, how does one define typical for a Duranie?  Then, does it matter if you are typical or not?  Should it?

What is a typical fan?  We all know what the definition of fan is, right?  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fan is, “A person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art or entertainment form, or famous person.”.  In our case, we have a strong interest in Duran Duran.  Okay.  That makes sense.  Then, what does it mean to be typical?  According to the same dictionary, typical means to have the “characteristic of a particular person or thing.”  Okay.  The question then becomes:  Do you have the characteristics of a Duranie?  What are the characteristics of Duranies?  This feels like very dangerous territory because Duranies are a large and diverse bunch.  On Valentine’s Day, Rhonda posted the youtube clip of “Sh*t Duran Duran Fans Say.”  Obviously, this video did exactly what I’m talking about here by trying to summarize the characteristics of “typical” Duranies.  Here’s the clip again to refresh your memory: 

So, what were the characteristics mentioned in this clip?  I made a list.  It probably isn’t complete but would make for a good place to start.  By the way, the clip is a lot funnier than this boring list so watch it!

Characteristics of a Typical Duranie:
*Wears fedoras
*Wear Duran Duran t-shirts
*Loves Duran Duran
*Claims to be the biggest Duran Duran fan in the world
*Judges other Duranies in terms of their fandom (“she’s not that hardcore”, “she didn’t even know they released an album last year”)
*Has knowledge on current band projects
*Has been a fan since 1981
*Wants “to do” Simon despite being married and having children (I assume this could apply to other band members)
*Saw them perform and thought were brilliant
*Knows their history (used to perform at the Rum Runner)
*Has family members ask when going to be over the Duran phase
*Claims band has been an inspiration (to form a band, study a certain subject in school)
*Gets excited over new pictures on a blog
*Thinks the band members look hot
*Gets excited over Simon’s and John’s tweets
*Screams, squees and squeals over the band
*Asks when the next album will be out (hello Durantime!)
*Wishes for material to be released on vinyl
*Misses Warren
*Bids on Duran items on ebay/collects Duran items/buys more than one copy of Duran products
*Competition (bidding on items only because other fan is interested)    
*Talks about buying tickets
*No longer a member of the fan club or states that it will be the last year of the fan club
*Camping out for a signing and points out that there is a line
*Can’t believe that others would camp out for a signing but is doing it now or did it in the past
*Gets tickets and asks others where they are sitting and points out that they have better seats
*Thinks that 10th row seats aren’t good enough
*Gets annoyed that Simon never tweets them
*Plans on sneaking in a camera to the show
*Talks about other fans (“can’t believe she wore a Duran t-shirt!”, “heard she gave…to the sound guy”, “she got so drunk”)
*Claims that a band member looked right at them for real
*Gets backstage passes or asks how other fans got backstage
*Asks other fans if they are following the band back to the hotel or claims that they don’t do the hotel thing anymore
*Defends the band members (“Nick is not gay”, “Andy was not the ugly one”, “John is not the dumb one”)
*Explains that they are not gay
*Claims to not be hardcore anymore as now grown up and had to move on
*Sees tour dates and plans time off of work (*snort*)
*Tells band that they love them and ask them to sign records or body parts
*Drinks wine

So, now, is this list complete?  Are these the only characteristics of a “typical Duranie”?  What was left out?  What wasn’t accurate?  How many of these characteristics do you fit?  Seriously, I would like to know.  Personally, I think that I have heard or seen many of these qualities during my time in Duranland.  I would also say that many of them could be used to describe me.  Many can’t, though.  What I think is even more interesting is the contradiction that this clip shows, which I do think is accurate.  On one hand, Duranies will claim that they aren’t hardcore and they would never think about following the band back to their hotel and on the other, they did at one point.  On one hand, they say that they have “grown up” while still spending hours on the phone talking about them.  My point here isn’t so much the hypocrisy that I see (but will blog about that, at some point) but how fans might fit a lot of these but not all of them.  Heck, they may not fit any of them.  For example, can male fans who are straight relate to these characteristics?  Then, is there really a typical fan, a typical Duranie?  I bet there really isn’t except for one thing and one thing only.  A typical Duranie is a person who is a fan of Duran Duran.



The Importance of a Fan Community: Shows!

I have been involved in an interesting discussion throughout the day on Twitter.  One of our friends on Twitter suggested that we talk about our fans who don’t participate in the online fan community.  This lead to a discussion on bringing non-fans or non-Duranies with you to shows.  For some people, this has been a positive experience and for others, it hasn’t been.  I can speculate about why some experiences went well and others didn’t. 

Why do Duranies go with non-Duranies to shows?  Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it?  People go to shows with non-Duranies because either they don’t have any Duranies to go with or because they want to share their fandom with others.  No matter the reason it seems to me that things can either go well or go very badly.  I have to admit that I have gone to shows with a variety of different people.  An ideal show, for me, would obviously be to go with Rhonda.  Why?  On top of being my best friend, we both have the same philosophy about the band, shows, and activities surrounding the shows.  For me, all three elements are essential for the best time.  The first element is clear and was basically what the conversation surrounded on twitter.  I prefer to go with other fans.  I will be even more clear.  I want to go to shows with Duranies and not just people who liked Rio back in the day or can sing the Reflex.  They have to be fans and I think we all know the difference.  There has to be a passion for the band.  They don’t have to know everything I know about the band but they have to have strong feeling for the band and their music.  Perhaps, then, a spark will take place which results in them finding out more about the band.  To me, anything less results in disappointment.  The second element revolves the show itself and how to behave at a show.  I won’t lie here.  I sing (badly) at a show.  I don’t sit down.  I might scream once or twice, particularly after a JoSi moment.  I move around.  I watch the band closely, especially that bass player guy.  Again, ideally, I would love to be close as the experience is enhanced and, generally, I’m willing to pay to be close.  So, what if the person or people you go with, don’t want to pay.  What if they don’t sing or dance?  What if they would be horrified by your behavior?  Again, I think this could end in disappointment even if you go with Duranies.  Lastly, the activities surrounding a show are also important.  I like to meet up with people before and after a show, for dinner and/or drinks.  My post show nights are, generally, not early as I like to go out.  I like to have a good time and a Duran show is the perfect time to do it.  Again, if the person or people you are with, don’t like to do that, it isn’t going to be as fun.  It is quite possible that everyone involved won’t be happy as some compromise to make the others happy but the happy ones aren’t that happy because their companion(s) aren’t really excited.  Thus, to me, all three elements are important.

Of course, there have been times that Rhonda and I can’t go to shows together.  It is one of the not fun parts of living so far away from each other.  During those times, I have sought out different people to go with.  In many, if not most, cases, the night has gone badly.  Sometimes, it has gone so badly that I know it as it is happening.  For example, once, I was unable to watch the show when the person I went with couldn’t handle being among the masses in a GA show.  Other times, it takes a while to really understand what went wrong.  Usually, those are the shows that I have gone with people who like Duran but aren’t Duranies.  In those cases, I have usually had to listen to them complain about Duran did or didn’t do.  For example, one person complained that Duran wasn’t spontaneous enough and actually compared them to Depeche Mode.  For the record, I like Depeche but their setlists, at times, don’t vary at all.  Literally, it is the same songs in the same order every night.  Anyway, I didn’t want to argue with this friend.  Sometimes, the person I have gone with may appear to be a Duranie or a could be Duranie.  Those experiences are the ones that really disappoint when it turns out that the person isn’t and never will be.  Now, of course, not all of my show going experiences with non-Duranies have been bad.  The ones that haven’t been have, at least, 2 out of the 3 elements, though.  My friend, Robyn, has gone with me a couple of times.  She likes Duran but isn’t a Duranie.  At the shows we have been to, though, Duranie friends have been present.  On top of that, she goes to shows like I do.  She will sing and dance, too.  She also likes to go out before and/or after. Yes, perhaps, my expectations play a significant role.  Maybe, others don’t have as high of expectation as I do, which is why things have gone well for them. 

Despite good experiences with Robyn, I truly hope that the people I go to the rest of my shows with me are on the same page with me.  I wish that everyone had people to go with who are on the same page as they are.  This leads me to the fan community.  Isn’t part of the reason fans talk to other fans to make friends in order to have people to go to shows or fan events with?  I know that was the exact reason that I went to the Duran Convention in New Orleans in 2004.  I knew that there was a tour coming up and wanted to have people to go with.  I would love for every Duranie to go to shows with other Duranies.  Perhaps, the fan community can work to have that happen! 



What About the Fans?

This week my writing partner began really examining Duran’s fan club and even the band itself in their ability to enhance, sustain, encourage a Duran Duran fan community.  She asked the questions:  Is the fan club doing the best job it can?  Is the band?  Many people argued that the fan club is not doing everything it can to please the fans and many said that the band should be involved in helping sustain the fan community.  Now, it’s my turn to ask the same question of the fans.  Do the fans do a good job in making the fan community sustainable?  Do we, collectively, help make Duranland the place we all want to be?  While I would love for the answer to be a simple yes, I think, in reality, it is much more complex than that. 

Let me start at the beginning.  People become fans of Duran Duran because of their music, their videos, their style, their personalities, or because of a combination of those qualities or all of those qualities.  From there, fans seek out other fans.  In some cases, these fans just want to know what other fans are thinking.  In still other cases, they seek out discussion about Duran.  Some want to go as far as becoming friends with other fans.  Some of these friends will, in turn, go to shows or other fan events together.  The real strange ones will write a book together or start a blog…oh wait, that’s just Rhonda and I!  All of these fans make up the fan community.  Obviously, some of you might be thinking that you are not part of the community because you don’t post on message boards or because you aren’t on twitter or don’t update your status on facebook in order for other Duranies to see.  Yet, if you are reading this blog and do so on a consistent basis, you are a member of the community.  You might be a quiet member but a member, nonetheless.  This community couldn’t help but be formed.  It happened naturally as fans will seek out other fans.  That said, is our community one that we are proud of?  Is it one that we actually like?

As Rhonda began her little series of blog posts on the fan community, I began to think about those people who leave the community.  Why?  Do they stop being fans or do they stop wanting to know what other fans think about?  In my opinion, these are two very different reasons.  In the case of the fans who stop being fans, it is most likely that these people did not like the music that was being made.  Perhaps, their fandom was short-lived or not, but, the music got them into the fandom and later made them want to leave.  In that case, the interest ran out.  There would be no hard feelings towards other fans.  They just didn’t want to spend their time on Duran anymore.  I get this.  I have participated in a fandom like that.  I enjoyed it when I was interested in it and even made life long friends from it but eventually my interest left.  Now, I don’t talk about it or think about it.  It is done and over.  For those fans, the rest of the community has very little impact on them.  For the second group of people who leave, it is a different story.

There are fans who seem to walk away because of everything surrounding the music.  It isn’t the music itself that makes them leave, but all of the extras.  Perhaps, for those people, they do get frustrated at the fan club or the perceived lack of effort on the band’s part.  A bigger issue seems to me is the other fans.  Just the other day a couple of friends of mine said that they thought about jumping into the discussion on the blog but decided against it because they don’t like Duranies.  This was quite a statement to me as they grouped a large, diverse group into a single entity.  I know of other people who completely left the fandom despite still liking Duran’s music because of the “culture” surrounding Duranies.  So, what’s the deal?  What is it about Duranies that can and has turned people off?  Then, is it possible to change the overall climate of Duranland?

One thing about Duranies that we have talked about before on this blog is the jealously and/or downright mean behavior that can and has happened in Duranland.  We have also mentioned the invisible or not-so-invisible world of social status in the community that is perceived by some (many?  all?).  We have even talked about possible reasons why this happens in our fandom.  Is this what makes other fans leave?  I think it can for some, definitely.  Some people don’t want to deal with anything remotely like this social status/hierarchy game that seems to get played at every turn.  I can’t blame them, really.  Yet, is that the only reason that some people who could be fans remove themselves from the community?  I think there could be other reasons.  Some people I know get frustrated with fans who won’t be critical with their fandom meaning that everything Duran does is great while other people get frustrated with the opposite.  They get frustrated that other people always seem so negative.  Maybe, still, others don’t like how fans do or do not deal with their fandom.  This could be that they don’t like the people who tweet all the time about Simon or John to people who act like know-it-alls with Duran knowledge and everything in between. 

No matter the reason that people might leave, I have to wonder if those of us still in the community should work to change it.  If we agree that we should, how?  In my opinion, I think that as much as the fan club and the band work to create a certain culture within the community, intentionally or not, I think we do, too.  I think we should take some ownership over our community.  I know that Rhonda and I are trying to do just that by writing about our fandom, by attempting to create a safe place where everyone is free to comment, and by trying to bring fans together.  What are other ways that we could all work to make Duranland a good, happy  community?   


One more thing…

In all of the comments I’ve received this week about fan communities – and there have been a few – the one thing that no one commented on was the band themselves.  It wasn’t until this morning when I was chatting with a friend that it dawned on me (although she pointed it out!), no one mentioned the band.

I think back to the 1980’s when I was reading my Tiger Beat magazines as quickly as I could turn the pages. I sent in money to join a fan club and I’d get a package back in the mail.  Occasionally I might get a newsletter after that (and it’s important to note here that I’m not just thinking of Duran Duran, but fan clubs as a whole), but that was really the end of it.  Fan club memberships were pretty one sided deals between myself and my mailbox!

Flash ahead to current times. Fan communities are built differently.  There is interaction between the fans and personal connections being made through many different avenues: message boards, Facebook and Twitter,among others.  One comment that I’ve seen many times is that there is so much infighting between fans.  Fans fight for space to be seen and heard.  Many believe all fan communities are that way, that it’s the nature of the beast.

Bruce Springsteen’s fan community – free to any who join – doesn’t seem to have the same sort of competitive nature.  The directions of the community are well paved avenues that Bruce himself follows.  He guides his fan community by suggesting charities for fundraising, yet still establishing firm boundaries and not necessarily being freely accessible.  His involvement tends to set the tone for the entire community, which is large and thriving to this day.

Does a band (or celebrity for that matter) need to be involved in their own fan community for it to be “alive and thrive”?  It’s an interesting question.


Is there a solution for DDM?

Someone once said that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  We take that quote to heart here at Daily Duranie.  Contrary to what some believe, we don’t simply “moan”.  Our blog is meant to not only bring issues to light (whether those issues are good, bad, or indifferent),  it is meant as a springboard for discussion.  The only thing Amanda and I truly control is the direction the blog takes each day.  From there, we allow the discussion, should there be one, to flow however it might, although we respond to the comments. Sometimes, we’re completely surprised by the lack of response, and other days, we are simply surprised by number of responses!  Overall, we want our blog to be a pivotal source of discussion, and perhaps a source of movement for our fan community.  GLOBALLY.

Fan clubs are a much different animal today than while I was growing up.  Back then all a fan had to do was look for the fan club address in the back of Tiger Beat, then send them their name, address and money for the membership fee (if required).  Then in about 4 months,  a packet with fan club swag would arrive in the mail…and that was about it.  If a fan was really lucky they might get added to a mailing list, and just as that fan moved on from that particular object of interest to the next latest celebrity or band, they’d get some sort of newsletter telling that they were going on tour, or in a new movie.  It took relatively little, and having a fan club really didn’t hurt or help a celebrity.

Today is far different.  As I’ve mentioned several times lately – the model for doing business in this industry has changed.  What used to work back in the 80’s along with about $3.00 will buy you a small cup of house coffee these days, and those records will still be on the shelf.  (Except that today we’re talking mp3’s and iTunes, aren’t we?) The troubling thing is that so many bands are incredibly slow to pick up on the new reality. Their management doesn’t get it, the bands don’t understand why radio isn’t playing them, and they’re expecting that since they sold records a few decades back, that they can still do it solely based on their name.

Those days are over.

Even artists like Paul McCartney are finding that they have to appeal to their audience on a completely different and much more personal level than ever before.  A lot of it is trial and error, and still more of it requires making the connection directly with their fan base.  Many bands, especially those built back in the day when fans were something they ran from, are resistant to the idea.  Just the words “Fan Empowerment” sound so completely radical.  What in the hell could those words possibly mean, and why on earth would an artist or band actually want to speak to those people?!?

Our roles have certainly changed.  The term Fan Community means far, far more than just a club. (For the record – in this blog, I am referring to our community at large, NOT just the pay-to-play DDM Fan Community) Daily Duranie is all about community.  We like the idea of promoting and celebrating what brings us together. For many of us, we’ve been around a long time.  My kids say we’re older than dirt. (a particularly hateful thing to say, but it’s becoming closer to reality with each passing day, I suppose)   We do want to bring fans together, because fostering that connection to one another does something else: it fosters loyalty.  Meet ups, weekend get togethers, group hotels for tour stops, conventions – things like that present opportunities for fans to get together and connect with one another.

For far too long, our community has been almost solely about what *we* can get out of the band.  How can we get the band to recognize we’re here and give us more of what we want – which is them, obviously.  How can we make sure that WE get those front row tickets, meet and greets, etc; yet make sure that we get more of them than anyone else in the community.  We don’t like to share much, do we? There is so much discussion of that sort of thing in our community, yet there is frighteningly little discussion of how we can work together to promote the very thing we all have in common.  The BAND.  Of course the front row tickets, the meet and greets, the “accidental” meetings outside of a hotel are part of being a fan.  They do make it all more fun and it would be ridiculous to argue otherwise.  I like to have fun too!!

My assertion is that there is room and time for everything.  The sense of community, the fun “extras” like good tickets and experiences, and even promotion can be accomplished with help directly from the fan community. That idea has the potential to be empowering for everyone.  With that thought in mind, and with yesterday’s blog still on my heart, I want to know what YOU think can be done to improve the paid fan community.  Should we scrap it and start over?  Should there even be a paid fan community?  I brought a few problems up for discussion yesterday, but what can really be done to improve the situation?


What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?

I happen to know a few fans who are very excited about the announcement of shows in South America for later this spring.  The fan community in South America is vibrant, loyal, and ready to show plenty of love for Duran Duran when they arrive.  These fans have sat and watched as plenty of other places in the world were able to celebrate the music they enjoy with the band that they love, and soon it will be their turn to host the band on their own continent.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for fans in other parts of the world.  Granted, I live in the United States, and as it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – we do get plenty of shows here.  No argument from me on that point.  I have no trouble maintaining my loyalty for the band because we do get plenty of attention from them, and when they tour, the only real questions are when they will be coming and how long they will be here.  In other places of the world, they begin with the question of whether or not they’ll be coming at all.

I’ve wondered if joining the paid fan community in places outside of the UK or US (and perhaps Europe) is even worth the money.  It’s well-known and understood that the community really offers very, very little in the way of “exclusives”, so the only value is in the presale tickets and the VIP packages that may be offered.  Sure, there is a fan forum on the website, Katy Kafe, and a handful of other things that can readily be found on YouTube, but aside from those things, there is very little use to being “in the club”.  It certainly does not feel exclusive, nor does it treat the members as though they are special to the band, which in this writers opinion is essential to the success of a pay-to-join fan community such as DDM.

This is why I was incredibly curious to see whether or not VIP packages, such as those that are regularly offered in both the US and UK, would be offered in South America.  There are fans from South America that have paid to be included in the fan community, so surely something would be in fact offered, yes?  Actually, no.  No there will not be VIP packages offered for those dates.  Aside from presale tickets, there is nothing “exclusive” or “special” being offered in countries that can rarely take advantage of any other wonderful item that is offered currently through DDM.  Honestly, this should be an outrage to those South American fans, if not the rest of us, because while nothing of the sort is being offered to them through their own fan community, one can almost bet local radio stations or the like will have contests and opportunities for other fans, who may or may not be nearly as loyal, will have the opportunity for meet and greets, early entry for the standing section at the front of the venue closest to the stage, among other things.  Is this really fair or an appropriate way to treat fans?

On one hand, I can see the point of DDM.  I am sure that while there are some fans from South America that populate the membership of DDM, it’s at least possible that they don’t quite match the number of those from the US or the UK.  In order to effectively offer VIP packages, they probably need to be able to give the promoter firm numbers that surpass what they can “promise”.  I can give DDM the benefit of the doubt on that count.  That said, I find it difficult to believe that there is no way they can offer early entry to fans who have (and will) buy tickets in the standing section closest to the stage.  I know bands with far, far less of a devoted following that are able to offer such things without much of a problem in South America as well as other parts of the world.

One really cannot argue that DDM was at least originally intended (or sold to them) to be a cash cow for the band, (whether or not they are actually seeing that money is beyond the scope of this particular blog) but that point comes through loud and clear.  There is little intention to make the fans feel as though they are part of a special group or that they are getting access to the band that the general public would not have.  Emphasis is on becoming a “VIP” member with very little offered for the additional cost in membership besides a few trinket type items at this point.  In most cases, if not all, meet and greets weren’t even offered on the US tour (the argument isn’t about whether or not meet and greets are worth the VIP ticket price here – that’s another issue for another blog), so I have to ask – what was the point beyond an inflated ticket price and a couple of merchandise offerings?  In the case of fans from other parts of the world besides the US and the UK, that cash cow point is in bold face type, since they can rarely take advantage of nearly anything else that the club has to offer.  Does membership really have any advantage?

I am sure that I will hear from at least one US fan that will gleefully tell me that they’ve been a DDM member since the very beginning because the presales are worth “the small price of membership”.  Sure, it’s not an astronomical cost to join DDM, but as long as people continue to pay – there is absolutely no motivation to change what members complain about on a daily basis.  Personally I feel that the DDM loyalty is completely misplaced.

Ultimately, the point of a paid fan community is getting lost in the translation, especially for those fans in places where VIP packages of any type aren’t even being offered.  If that were the only problem with DDM, it might be overlooked, but that is only the beginning.  Fans have been screaming of the obvious, glaring issues from its inception.  Surveys have been filled out and returned, with only very select and small problems being addressed and changed (and its important to note that the changes have not necessarily been in the best interest of the fans by any means).  In this day and age where Direct to Fan marketing is being heralded as the “new model” for the industry, I have to ask where the intelligence is in simply ignoring the requests of entire fan bases, such as the one in South America where fans are begging for their chance to enjoy a Duran Duran concert in VIP style.  At the very least – offer up some early entry for these loyal fans!

DDM has cited membership numbers, market demand and promoters as reasons behind the decisions to offer or not offer VIP packages.  Here is what I know for certain: if packages are not offered, and the “exclusivity” of being a fan club member doesn’t exist – membership numbers most definitely won’t rise on their own just due to a great album or a wonderful tour.   Try again, Duran Duran. The one very small sales tactic that Duran Duran and their management continue to forget is that sometimes in order to have GAIN, you actually have to GIVE.  Its simply not enough to put out a great record, announce some concert dates and sit back to wait.