Tag Archives: Music fandom

But You Have to Make a Choice

For some weird reason, this week featured a number of conversations with family members. On Monday, I spoke with my brother to wish him a happy birthday. After catching up on the basics, the discussion turned towards talking about Star Trek: Discovery and Picard as both of us enjoy the Star Trek universe. Later in the week there was a family intervention to stop my youngest niece from leaving the White Sox fandom. She discovered that her favorite player would not be with the Sox next year so she pondered whether or not she could actually cheer for the team anymore. Both of these conversations combined in my brain to get me thinking about fandom and whether or not there are advantages and disadvantages to fandoms involving music (like mine), like TV/movies (like my brother’s) or like sports (like my family’s). Is it easier or better to be a fan of one over the others?

Sports Fandom:

I know a little about sports fandom as I was born and raised in a White Sox family. This means that we watch games together, we cheer for the team together, and we definitely pay attention to the standings to see if our team has a chance to make the playoffs. I think a few memories might highlight the good parts to sports fandom. Baseball has always been shared with our extended family. As a kid, this meant that we went to games at old Comiskey with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Likewise, after my grandpa died, we did what he would have been doing himself, which was to turn on the game and cheer for the Sox. It helped us get through a really tough summer. Over the years, we have shared magical moments together like when they won the World Series in 2005. When the final out was made, my parents and I jumped up and down to celebrate just like the players on the field right before the phone started to ring with my siblings calling to join in. We were together, emotionally, even though we could not be physically together.

What does all of this tell me? Sports fandom brings people together like the White Sox have with my family. This, in turn, creates shared memories and traditions that can be passed down. My nieces, for example, have grown up as White Sox fans even though they live in North Carolina. Sports fandom is such that it is a constant. Every spring, we know that the baseball season will begin along with the potential of a winning team. A constant like sports can definitely provide comfort as well as a distraction from real life worries. On top of that, it is also the most socially acceptable of fandoms. No one thinks it is weird that my family plans trips around seeing the Sox. All that said, the people connected with one’s fandom does change. My niece is feeling that right now as her favorite player has moved on. We also learn little about the players beyond their statistics on the field. It is far less personal. No one (or very, very few) is reading or writing fanfic about baseball or other sports. It does not allow a lot of creativity or fan production. Then, there is the question of what the heck to do in between seasons or if the team sucks. Do you watch highlight reels of winnings years? While I think you could, I’m not sure that it feeds the soul in the same way as other fan activities might.

TV/Movie Fandom:

How does TV or movie fandom compare to sports fandom? Like the sports fandom, I feel like I have some experience with this. As many of you know, I was pretty involved in the Roswell fandom when the original TV show was on the air (early 2000s). That fandom was good to me as I met some good friends through it. In our case, the four of us met on a message board for the show. Through various posts, we discovered that not only did we interpret the show similarly but we also loved fanfic surrounding it. When we all figured out that we were all in the Midwest, we jumped at the chance to meet in person resulting in a weekend in Wisconsin with little sleep, much junk food and more laughs than I could count. Of course, the show did not last forever. In fact, it was only on the air for three seasons. Yet, our friendships adjusted and remained.

It seems to me that there are two big differences between sports fandom and one surrounding a TV show/movie. First, sports have a much longer life span. While the players and uniforms might change, the team lives on. TV shows and movies usually have a much shorter life span. Of course, there are franchises like Star Trek that carries on past the half century mark, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Still, though, there have been many a moment that seemed the end for Star Trek. Therefore, there is always a possible end to TV shows/movies. While there is always the opportunity to watch it again and again, there will be a point in which nothing new is produced. Maybe, this is where fans enter the picture as they create new stories, videos and art about their fandom. It gives fans a chance to produce something themselves. Yet, I would argue that it is much harder to keep a fandom going once there is no more official product released. On top of that, unlike sports, it is often misunderstood by non-fans.

Music Fandom:

Obviously, we have covered music fandom pretty intensely on this blog since it began nine years ago (!). In some ways, music fandom definitely does parallel TV/movie fandom. Both offer chances to rewatch/re-listen. I think about how TV/movie fandom have conventions that are super popular. Yet, they also have premieres. I think music fandom is pretty cool in that it has concerts, which, to me, is like a premiere and a convention combined. You get the opportunity to see a show for the first time (even if it is not the first concert of a tour as every show is different) and you get the chance to hang out with other fans. Maybe you even get to see the subject of your fandom in person–just like a convention! At the same time, music feels different. While both have the chance for fan productions of fanfic and fan art, one tends to focus on fictional characters and the other is about real people. For me, music fandom allows a really significant escape from reality when you are on tour but has less chance of small moments of escape that can be found with a TV show.

Obviously, I have not thought about every aspect of fandom or how they compare when looking at these three big categories. Instead, I just let my mind wander about how they compare. Clearly, there are similarities with all of them. For instance, they all bring people together or can. They provides chances for escape or big fun moments or times. Yet, there are differences. Some are about real people and the other is fiction. Some have a better chance at continuing through the years than others. Society likes some fandoms more than others. There are advantages and disadvantages for all of them and fandom in general.

What about the rest of you? What sticks out in your mind about the different categories of fandom?

-A

I Still Like the Fairy Tale

A few years back, I wrote a blog about Slow Food. It was kind of an odd topic, given that this is a blog about being a Duran Duran fan. While you can read the blog here, it was about the convenience factor of MP3’s versus vinyl. I thought about that post as I wrote this one today.

What is an album, anyway?

I don’t quite remember the date I wrote that blog (I should have looked and didn’t), but here we are in 2020, and while vinyl has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence, it isn’t as though one can carry vinyl along with them and play them. Streaming has become much more popular since the time I wrote that post. Using my own kids as the example, they almost never buy music.

Read that last sentence again. My three kids (I have a 23-year old daughter, a 20-year old son, and my youngest girl is 11) almost never buy music. They all stream. No one buys a thing, besides the premium subscriptions to whatever streaming service used, of course. I try not to think about that very often, because it makes my heart and head hurt. No liner notes? What about the album covers? No comforting hiss as the needle connects with the vinyl groove?? What?? Everything is played on a phone or a computer, streamed through a Sonos speaker (an obvious plug for my husband’s company!), or whatever-you-prefer.

Essentially, this means that for the sake of argument, kids today don’t really know what it means to have a cohesive, seamless album. To them, it is a collection of songs, and that’s at BEST. Many times, it isn’t even that. It’s one song. Maybe they put it into a playlist, maybe they just do a shuffle of a variety of artists/bands they like.

What do you mean, a collection of songs?

This is incredibly different this is from my own listening habits. Even when I stream, it is rare that I don’t listen to a full album at a time. I don’t like the idea of jumping around, particularly when we’re talking about *gasp* listening to more than one artist at a time. I like hearing a full album from one artist – start to finish – and then moving on. Maybe I’ve just got a raging case of OCD!

The thing is, I believe each album tells a story. It’s up to the listener to get it – but it’s there to consume. At the very least, each album is a snapshot of that period in time. I like that. To me, Paper Gods, for example, is a tale of the band’s career from their beginnings to 2015. Seven and the Ragged Tiger as another example, is about dealing with fame and success. When I listen to those albums (and the others as well), I think about the lyrics, the music, and what the band may have been trying to communicate at the time. For me, that’s a huge part of the listening experience.

As much as I feel like my way – consuming the album as the artist intended – is right, there are many other people who like the idea of an album just being a collection of songs. Sometimes, the song order needs a good tweaking. Maybe the album order really has no purpose other than how it ended up on the record! Perhaps the album order isn’t as much about telling a story as placement for commercial purpose. I’m sure that somewhere, there’s a study proving that most people only listen to the first 3 songs on each side of an album, and that the front (A) side is listened to twice as often as the B side. I’m not surprised.

I want the fairy tale

My problem, is that I still want to believe in the fairy tale. I want to believe that every album has a story, that the band still loves making music for the artful sake of it. Tours are done because they enjoy playing live, and that they do the meet and greets with fans because they like them. I want to still believe they play where they want, and that business has little to do with it. How cute, right?

Cognitively though, I know that money drives most every decision they make, because it must. Someone has to be thinking about the bottom line, am I right? Writing this blog for close to a decade hasn’t always made it easy to believe in the romance of fandom. I know, for example, that after forty years, a lot of this is just the “grind” to them. They didn’t sell-out, they’ve been doing business! A band does things like put out five versions of an album, or releases concert dates like a coffee drip because it makes them money. They don’t announce dates because they want the same diehard fans to be able to travel from show-to-show. In actuality, they don’t care who is the seats as long as there’s a warm body in them. Even so, from time to time, I still want that fandom fairy tale. No, I don’t just want it, I need it. So for me, the album becomes a story that only a fan would completely understand.

With all of that in mind, there’s nothing wrong with seeing an album as a simple collection of songs. After all, once the band has finished their writing, recording, engineering and mixing, and the album has been mastered and finally released – it is no longer theirs. It is their gift, or their work, for those who wish to consume it. Their blood, sweat, laughter, and tears ends up in our ears, to have and hold. To listen, reimagine, and rearrange. It then becomes our own story, the way we wish to hear it. I can’t fault anyone for going the extra mile between skipping a song – which lets face it – we all tend to do from time to time, and rearranging an album. The way you listen to Duran Duran isn’t a determining factor of fandom.

I do wonder though, how many people out there really listen to an album as it is originally released, and how many like to change it up? I don’t mean putting entire albums into a massive playlist and hitting ‘shuffle’, I mean single albums. Do you listen to them ‘as is’, or have you created your own version? Why or why not? Drop me a line and let me know!

-R

Sound of Celebration: Welcome to the Newbies out there!

the lights turn on

It is a strange feeling when you know Duran Duran is actually in the same country and that your friends are traveling (or have already traveled) to see them. Every once in a while, I’ll sneak a peek on Twitter, just to see if anyone recognizable has posted a photo or anything. (Thank you to Anna Ross for playing along nicely!)

I’m excited because I know that next Thursday I’ll be making my way to Vegas for their shows over the weekend. It also feels like the next week is going to take forever to get through. Then again, I have kind of a lot to do between now and then so…I’d better get to it!

and still they come

As difficult as it is for me to still believe sometimes, there are Duranlive first-timers amongst us, running rampant in the public! I joke, but I also love running into new concert-goers, whether online or in person. They are typically so darn joyful, their excitement is palatable and contagious all at once. I live and breathe for that joy! This weekend, Amanda gave excellent advice for GA shows. They can be tricky, and honestly require their own play book, in my opinion. Even seated show attendees could use some advice, though.

First off, I’m no expert. Really. There are many, many Duranies out there who have gone to far more shows than the fifty I can count over the years. Fifty shows isn’t very many when you consider that this is #DD40. On that same token, I believe about 40 or so of those shows have taken place since the year 2004, which means I’m not only NOT an expert, I’m also probably a bit nutty, and damn gleeful about it.

That said, I am 100% quirky and proud of it. I spend a lot of my time before and after these shows just people watching. Seeing fans mingle, observing families taking it all in, I even gauge the age of the audience. I love seeing how people interact (and yeah, I pay special attention to the known Duranies because, dang it – you’re a super-special sort. Like me!). All of that observation over the years has taught me a few things.

we come here calling

First of all, if you’re new to this whole thing: welcome. I know we’re a daunting group. Overwhelming at the very least! My advice is really simple: JUST HAVE FUN. If you’re not on social media, you should try it. Twitter, for example, doesn’t have to be horribly serious or time committing. It’s a quick and easy way to meet people – it reminds me a lot of the days on message boards, because there’s true banter between fans. It sometimes takes a while to find us, but we’re there. Follow @duranduran, check out the people who seem to tweet things you might be interested in. Some like to talk about band members, others like to discuss the music, still others talk about all of it. Try it, you might like it!

My hope in suggesting to meet other fans online, a newbie can find a group to hang with, both before and after the show. Life is way too short and Duran Duran concerts are far too much fun, to go it alone. Connecting with other fans is one of the very best parts of this community. It is how Amanda and I met, and it is how I’ve met some of the closest friends I have over the years. One of the goals we’ve had for Daily Duranie in the past has been to bring fans together and allow them to connect. This past year, I know I’ve strayed a bit from that path, but I’m getting back to it, little by precious little.

to gather here

My other piece of advice, which might be coming in too late for some of you – is to travel in early. What I mean by that is, if you’re going to a show on a Friday, get there on Thursday. Why? Two reasons really. One, giving yourself a bit of a cushion is far better on the nerves when a flight is unexpectedly canceled, or weather becomes a problem.

The second reason is that a lot of times, people will meet up the day before. Amanda and I have been known to plan parties the night before a show for fans to meet up. This time in Vegas we don’t really have anything planned, but I have seen other groups of people mentioning getting together that night. I can promise we will be out and about, but we agreed to give ourselves a break this time and let others do the planning.

we’ll light up the land

When it comes time for the show, even at a seated venue, I’d tell you over and over again to wear shoes you’re going to be comfortable standing in for hours. Some may disagree with me, and that’s fine, but trust me when I say that the band isn’t going to see your shoes. They don’t care. They want to see you up and dancing. Impress yourself and don’t worry about anybody else is my motto. During the hours before and after the show, you’re going to be walking, standing and talking. Be comfortable so that you can enjoy it all! Cute and comfortable IS a thing, whether that’s in heels, flats, trainers or something else entirely!

So when you see me wearing flat shoes or even flip-flops to a show (I’ve done it before and will definitely do it again!), know that I am totally 100% happy and confident wearing them, and I don’t care about what anyone else thinks. I’ve done the heels before, no thanks!

can you hear the planet roaring

My opinion is simply that if you don’t come out of a Duran Duran show sweaty and completely elated – you’ve done it wrong. Nobody should be sitting through a Duran show if you’re physically capable of standing. Otherwise, chair dancing in whatever way you need is totally a thing too. Go for it!

There are plenty of subtle nuances to fandom. There are plenty of unwritten social rules and slippery slopes, I suppose. Sometimes, one can get so distracted by the minutia of what to say, how to say it, what to ask, what NOT to ask, that they forget to have fun. That’s the bottom line though. HAVE FUN. Smile. Enjoy the moment. I can promise that the 120 minutes that the band is on stage (give or take a few either way) will fly by in the blink of an eye. For those precious two hours, live in just that little bit. Experience the music with an open heart and mind, and let it take you away from the troubles of real life. Allow your heart to swell full of gratitude for being there to enjoy every single note. You won’t regret it.

See you at the shows!

-R


Breaking Stigma with a Commercial

I have written about a lot of different topics over the years.  I have written about Duran Duran’s music, their career, band members, rumors, fans, fandom, and so much more.  Yet, I never thought I would write about a commercial.  That’s right.  I’m writing about a commercial, an advertisement, something to sell a product.  In this case, the product is a bank’s credit card.  If you know me at all, you know that commercials, companies, businesses, profit are not normally terms I embrace or even talk about.  Generally, I focus on people, not money.  Stay with me, though.  I promise that it will make sense.

What commercial am I talking about?  The one you can see here:  https://ispot.tv/a/wdOI.  Seriously, go watch it but know that I’m not championing the product as I have no opinion on it.  No, the focus here is the commercial itself and its message.

The focus of the advertisement is two guys who work together.  One pops into the other’s office to confirm a rumor.  This rumor, of course, is that a favorite band is playing a gig that weekend.  Without too much thought, the pair buy plane tickets, hotel rooms and concert tickets.  At the end of the commercial, you see the two enter the club, all smiles.  Of course, the premise is that this particular credit card allows them to do this.  Again, that’s fine and dandy but that’s not why this commercial makes me smile.

I relate to the entire commercial.  After all, I’m a fan of a band.  Rhonda and I have had many conversations that sound exactly like that.  We often share rumors about what the band is doing show wise with each other and then give an “official Duranie alert” when there is confirmation.  The line about “we gotta go” that is stated by one guy and repeated by the other is one that Rhonda and myself have said to each other countless times.  Seriously.

Then, the plane, the hotel, the venue all remind me of what life is like on tour.  After all, many/most of our tours feature those.  The excitement that they show from rumor confirmation to entering the venue resembles us, too.  We are that happy on tour as well.

Beyond how similar this advertisement is to my fandom, there is something bigger at work here.  Normally, when fans are shown in advertisements, they are sports fans.  In fact, when I googled to try to find this ad, I came across a lot of ads with sports fans.  Here’s an example:

I have nothing against sports fans.  Heck, I like many sports.  I get tired of the assumption that it is totally normal, or even cool to spend money on sports but not on other fandoms.  This Bank of America commercial shows that music fandom is just as cool.  We need more of that before we are able to really destroy some of the stigma around being a fan of a band.

I applaud Bank of America for this commercial.  It is nice to see an ad I can relate to and one that makes fandom a little more acceptable.  I say that the ad worked well.

-A

But It’s Much Harder to Stay

Today marked the end of a quiet, relaxing weekend with some of my favorite people.  I “met” these friends who came out for the weekend in 2002.  Yet, we had talked for years before meeting face to face.  Fandom brought us together as we all loved the show, Roswell, and found ourselves chatting on various message boards before arranging to meet in person.  Those first meet-ups were both a little scary but also a ton of fun.  We found ourselves watching and re-watching favorite scenes and discussing all aspects of the show.  The show, unfortunately, didn’t last beyond the three years.  Despite that, we still have plenty to talk about, including fandom in general.

While a TV show fandom brought us together, all of us have participated in other fandoms.  My friend, Kate, for instance, loves the band, Hanson.  Robyn loves to go see live music but also traveled for other TV show conventions.  Therefore, it is pretty common that our discussions lead us back to talking about current and former fandoms.  Through the discussion, I began to wonder if certain fandoms are easier to belong to than others or easier to stay in, especially in light of some recent blogs that Rhonda wrote about various fan conventions.

Fandoms surrounding TV shows, movies, books, etc. definitely seem easier to belong to for a variety of reasons.  First, anyone can join the fandom and participate in a big chunk of fan activities.  Everyone can turn in to watch the latest episode on TV, right?  Money doesn’t factor much unless the show is on cable or through some other subscription service like Netflix.  Second, after an episode, fans can and do rush to the internet to discuss all aspects of what they saw.  Fans can all participate in the same time unlike some music fan activities like going to a concert in which only some fans can attend.  Third, fandoms surrounding a fictional story easily allows for fan fiction.  Fan writers can take what they read or watch and expand the story in some way.  Again, money does not matter.  It does not separate fans from other fans.

Music fandom is different.  While there are some shared experiences like hearing an album on release day or watching a brand new video, most of the rest of fan activities are not ones that all fans can and do attend.  Concerts only featured a small percentage of fans at any given time.  The ability to go to fan events like concerts are often dependent on one’s financial ability.  While, yes, all fans of a certain band can tune in when that band is featured on TV, not all fans can afford all concerts and certainly not all in the front row.  Likewise, fan fiction is much less likely in music fandom as there is no fictional story to expand.  There is just the history of the band and real people as opposed to characters who have been created.

All that being said, there are some other factors.  TV shows, movies and books often have a smaller life cycle.  It is a big deal when a TV show, for example, lasts ten years.  For Duran Duran fans, the band has been going for almost 4 decades.  The limited time of existence could make those kind of fandoms tough.  How do fans keep the passion alive when there is nothing new to talk about or get excited about?

At the same time, there is additional factor of the celebrities.  The chance to meet a rock star, for example, is limited.  Sometimes, fans can meet the rock star of choice through concert meet and greets or through CD signings.  Perhaps, one can have a brief encounter at the stage door after a show.  If music fans want a picture or an autograph, they either have to hope for some magical luck at finding the celebrity of choice before or after a show or they have to hope for an official signing.  Music fandoms generally don’t have fan conventions like TV shows, movies and books have.  Rock stars are not appearing at some weekend convention where fans can buy autographs or buy a photo with the star.

Music fans must rely more on money and luck in order to have any chance for interaction with their celebrities of choice.  TV show/Movie/Book fans have a greater chance at being able to have access at fan conventions.  Often times, those conventions happen in between projects, too, for actors and actresses.  This could help to keep fandom alive, too, as there might be less down time.

What I now wonder if there isn’t a way to combine elements of both types of fantoms in order to keep fans happy and to keep fandom alive.  As more of a music fan, for example, I would really like more chances to meet my favorite band members without having to have luck or a chance to meet them after a show.  Perhaps, if more fans had that opportunity then there would be less competition, making fandom a happier place.

-A