Social Networking and the Fan

Back in 1993, the only way I heard about Duran Duran canceling shows on their tour was when I heard about it on the radio.   Truth be told, I don’t think I had even known they were touring – I can’t honestly remember – but I can tell you that I was in my senior year of college, my parents were in the middle of losing their home, and I had just went inactive from my sorority so that I could graduate that June.  I do remember hearing the announcement though, and while I was concerned for Simon, at the time there was no one that I could truly call or email. (email?? This was 1993. I didn’t even HAVE email!)  Just as I’m sure many others did, I moved on.  I heard later that the they started playing again, and much later, I went to another show.  I missed out on the “is this the end?” rumors, or the anger coming from the fans because their show had been postponed or canceled.  There was no way to convey concern, there was no one to worry with, and what might have been very stressful for the band truly passed me by in almost every way.  

In 2011 though, another tour was postponed.  I couldn’t escape the anger, the worry, the concern, the rumors…or the fact that I was directly impacted.  Not only could I talk to Amanda since she was standing right next to me through most of it (quite literally, I might add!), I could email, I blogged, news was begotten through Facebook and transmitted through Twitter, and I could have even marked the exact day (but alas, I did not mark the day on my calendar!)  that Simon announced that things were beginning to turn around for him.  For me personally, the episode was fairly traumatic – and I have to assume this is not only because I was there in the UK when the shows were postponed.  I knew with as much certainty as anyone else as to what was going on, and the band – bless them – seemed to be fairly forthcoming with whatever news they could provide.  The social networking phenomena worked it’s magic, and within the blink of an eye the word was spread not only through the DD community, but throughout the world.  The differences between 2011 and 1993 are evident, even if only examined through these two instances.  
This is an issue that I’ve blogged about prior, but it’s also the chapter I’m currently working on for our book.  I don’t mind telling everyone that I am having the worst time writing the chapter!  It’s completely overwhelming to me, and I don’t really know why.  I have the chapter about halfway written I suppose, but every time I open the file, I spend a good several minutes just staring at the paragraphs, and sometimes that’s as far as I get.  I do have an outline I’m working from – normally I don’t outline and the writing comes easy, but every once in a while I’ll hit a chapter like this, where the topic just feels so big and there are so many points to hit that I just can’t begin.  In this case, I did begin – it’s the continuing that’s a problem!  I’m to the point where I’m thinking it’s time to perhaps move on to another chapter and then come back to this at a later point when my head is clear.  The funny thing is that I started this chapter back in April (yes, it’s really taken that long), and then May happened – and now I can’t seem to write.  It’s very frustrating, especially when I do have an idea of what I need to convey.  The whole purpose of the chapter is to show just how much social networking has changed being a fan.  It’s intensified the entire experience on so many levels, and I suspect that if the band, or at least certain members were asked – they might even agreed that it’s changed their view of the fans as well.  
So, I’m throwing this subject out for conversation, my dear readers.  How do you feel feel about Twitter, Facebook and the like?  Do you feel like you’re better able to experience being a fan these days than back in the 80’s?  How is it different?  What do you enjoy about it?  What don’t you enjoy as much?  
I’m hoping to get some conversation going here – and then maybe I’ll have the creative juice flowing for some writing.  If you aren’t comfortable posting your thoughts for the world (and please know that Amanda and I are NOT quoting fans directly anywhere in our book), please feel free to send us a gmail.  Our inbox gets dusty in there from inactivity, and I always write back!  
Until Monday – have a good weekend!! -R

4 thoughts on “Social Networking and the Fan”

  1. Well, we know I'm an early adopter of the technology and all about artists connecting with their fans via social media. So the answer is YES! It's made being a fan much more rewarding in that we now get to have this connection and communicate with Duran Duran. We can directly ask Simon or John a question and actually, occasionally, get a reply. And that was unheard of in the 80's. And pretty exciting (I still squee when I get a question answered).

    It's also made it easier for the band to establish that connection, but still keep fans from showing up on their doorsteps. And then can interact with many more fans online than they ever could if they were meeting fans in a physical location.

    It's also a way to get fans to promote (as we know I've made a business of this) and spread the word to the entirety of the internet about projects. Word of mouth has always been the #1 advertising tool, but it wasn't effective until the internet made it so easy.

    And finally, fans now have access to news about the band immediately, as it happens. We never had that before. Now, we always know what's going on and can keep up with new albums, songs, videos without doing more than turning our computer on.

  2. Might I just start off and say that I love your blog! I feel that Twitter, Facebook, and the hoard of other technoloigcal advances do have major ups for fans. I always felt so out of loop back in the 80's and early 90's but now it seems that you can track the band's every move which is excellent since I've found that I have a lot less spare time on my hands. I think it's made the fans feel a lot closer to the band in a sense.

  3. I have to say that I like the fact that Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to keep up with what is going on with the band in a more timely fashion. I love the more personal feel social media give the band, even if it is all illusory. And of course, it also gives us, as fans, the ability to connect with other fans all over the world. How do you think I found you? 😉

    When I attended the CT show back in April, I found out about it only because I received an e-mail from Live Nation listing upcoming shows in Boston. The Boston show was listed on there, but that led me to see if they were performing at Foxwoods too (they were). We always said if they went there, we would go and make a night out of it with some dinner and gambling too. Well the Foxwoods tickets had already been on sale for a month, which annoyed me somewhat, because had I known when they went on sale, I would have bought them ASAP. Still had some awesome seats in the mezzanine though! Thanks to Twitter and Facebook that I learned that they were coming back to the US in the Fall, and back to Boston at a bigger venue. This time I got the tickets as soon as they went on sale, because I knew about it ahead of time! 😉

    The interesting thing for me is that back in 2009, John Taylor was quoted as saying the following about Twitter: “When artists today are asked to Twitter their every thought, their every action, to record on video their every breath, their every performance, I believe they're diluting their creative powers, their creative potency and the durability of their work.

    And in the long run I believe they're also diluting the magical power and the magnetic attraction that they can or will ever have over their audience.”

    Yet he (along with Simon) have seemed to now embrace Twitter wholeheartedly, along with other social media like YouTube – I'm specifically thinking of the David Lynch concert which was streamed live. And of course, there is the band's Facebook page. I wonder if John has since changed his stance on social media given what he said previously, or if social media is just viewed as a necessary evil required for band PR in today's technology age?

    I also wonder too, if they feel like engaging in social media to connect with their fans has come at the cost of losing some of their privacy. If so, do they mind that? Case in point, John tweeted a picture of the view from his window at the hotel in Boston. I recognized exactly where it was. I did nothing with that info other than walk by the hotel at lunch time. I figured maybe if I was lucky beyond belief, they'd come out at the exact same time I was walking by – no such luck. And that was the limit of what I did. I didn't camp out in the lobby, on the side walk, or hang out at the hotel bar (which would have been decidely weird mid-afternoon!) hoping to catch a glimpse. But I am sure that other people might have with that information. If fans did find them based on what John had tweeted, how did they feel about that?

    Do they ever worry about overzealous fans (I'm talking about the ones who you know are just way, way out in left field) in today's social media age? Because think about it, when it comes down to it, no matter how personal it all may seem, we are still just strangers to them, and vice-versa.

    I find it interesting that Nick has not embraced Twitter and I wonder if it is because he prefers to keep his private life just that, private?

    Anyway, I know you were asking about how social media has changed the fans, but in a lot of respects, social media has also changed them as a band too.

    -Susan-

    PS. My apologies for the lengthy post, but this is a topic I have actually given some thought to in the past. Hope it gives you some food for thought in your writings!

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!! Amanda and I have actually talked about John's view and apparent change in thinking regarding Twitter several times over the past year or so. If I could interview the band – I would honestly spend my time talking with them about how social networking and the internet has changed them as a band – it's a very interesting subject and while I'm able to see the changes it's made in being a fan, I have no idea what it must be like to be on the other side. I'd want to ask John how his opinions of the internet have changed (I too watched his participation on that UCLA panel for the 20th anniversary of the internet in 2009), and I'd want to ask Nick what his thoughts are, simply because he chooses not to get involved. I don't blame him for wanting to remain private – if you notice, he likes interacting on Second Life, and I have to think it's because he can take on whatever persona he chooses, yet still interacting with the fans to some extent – and then again still keeping his personal life private. I would say that three years ago I would have never thought the band would embrace social media. I felt strongly that they wanted to keep fans at a very lengthy arms length in order to keep up the fantasy that they were somehow living a life that the ordinary person (i.e. you and I) could never attain. That really worked for me back when I was young, but as a fan in my 30's I really started to grow tired of the fact that they were unreachable. Other bands made the effort to come out, get to know their fans and connect – and I never felt that way about Duran Duran. Then last year they started really getting involved on Twitter and Facebook, and my opinion really began to change. As a fan I feel as though our relationship (fans and band) has strengthened; but in other ways I also feel as though because there's been a layer of defense that has been somewhat lowered – the band runs the risk of fans believing that they actually “know” them. It's easy to feel that way on Twitter or even Facebook, but as you say – we are still strangers to them. It's not a two way street, nor should it be for the most part. This media has the potential for providing a false sense of familiarity that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Definitely a difference from the 80's. -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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