Last night, I saw a couple of articles being posted on Facebook about that little band we know and love. You, too, can read the articles by clicking on their titles: “Duran Duran Suing Glenview-Based Fan Club For Lack of Payment” and “Duran Duran Sues Glenview-Based Fan Club”. Immediately, discussion ensued. First, there was a need to clarify what the articles were talking about. Then, the discussion expanded to a more common topic–Duran’s paid fan community and what might happen from here.
From what I can tell, Duran Duran Music, their paid fan community, has different organizations/companies taking care of different aspects. For example, we all know that Artist Arena deals with the presales. This lawsuit involves Worldwide Fan Clubs, Inc. According to the FAQ page on DDM, “Worldwide Fan Clubs processes, fulfills and handles customer service for the Official Duran Duran VIP Community membership packages. WWFC will also coordinate contests and marketing of the Community.” The lawsuit is saying that this company allegedly did not keep accurate accounting of membership fees and did not pay Duran the 75% they were due, based on the contract signed in 2010.
Of course, I cannot speak to the accuracy of those charges, but like many did yesterday on Facebook, I can comment about what it has been like to be a member of DDM. We have discussed DDM a number of times on this blog, including how the presales changed when Artist Arena got involved or how the VIP packages are very different than what they were in like 2005. The forums aren’t what they used to be as so many people left and/or stopped posting there, for various reasons. This particular company has to deal with membership packages, contests and marketing. How do we think they have done with that, as customers?
I have taken the time to review the last couple of years gold packages. Most people I know seem to like what has been offered in the gold package. It has taken awhile for the gold packages to be updated, though, which has forced people to renew with just the silver package and then again with the gold within a year, if they want the merchandise. That shouldn’t be. Beyond that, there is the question of whether or not there should be two levels of membership or whether or not there should be a cost at all. Even beyond all the questions and debates about presales, membership fees, etc., is the larger and most important question. What should the role of the fan club or fan community, as they call it, be? Should it just be a place to get tickets and merchandise? That doesn’t feel like a fan club or fan community to me. I think a fan club should be about connecting. It could be the perfect place to connect the fans to the band but also fans to fans. While there are exclusives on DDM, including favorites like the Katy Kafe, there aren’t enough to make the members feel a special relationship to the band. More importantly than the connection to the band, people stay in fandom because of the connection they feel with other fans. How does DDM do that? It doesn’t. The forums helped at one point. The VIP parties and other meet ups helped, but now there is nothing working for that. This, of course, is one of the main reasons that Rhonda and I have jumped into organizing meet ups and even Durandemonium, the 2013 convention–to have fans connect to other fans. One of the reasons we blog is to open up discussion among the fans, which is needed for connections to form and solidify. We saw the void that was left and wanted to fill it, the best we could with no resources. (Imagine what we could do with some resources! Ha!) Seriously, we know that it is the connections between fans that keep the fandom going in between albums and tours.
Maybe this lawsuit will spur some changes. I sure hope so. I would love to see Duran Duran have a fan club that shows not only their love of their fans but also an understanding of what fans want and need to sustain their fandom.