Tag Archives: social media

Trusting the Process

The holiday season just keeps on giving!!

Sure, the gifts might be small – depending upon how you may feel about pictures of the drummer “in residence” at the studio….

(does that mean he’s moved in for the duration?!?)

(that’s a joke)

(although really…maybe that would be more effective…)

(Ok, I’ve used too many parentheses… and now my WordPress editor hates me…)

The pictures make my day! The more the merrier, actually!  As I wander through my house, endlessly trying to find the holiday ribbon that was probably packed months ago, I will gladly accept even the tiniest of gestures to remind me that all is well. Seeing Roger in the studio, behind his drum kit, works for me!

At some point, the band will settle into the seemingly never-ending process of writing and recording, and the pictures may stop for a while. Until then, I’m going to cheer over every photo we get, and…yes…trust the process.

I don’t know how much “the process” has really changed for the band over the years. Naturally, technology has advanced, but beyond that, I don’t know if they really do things any differently. On this side, fans have the added benefit of being “plugged in”. Earlier albums seemed to just appear out of nowhere. I didn’t know they were recording until something was released. These days, thanks to the internet and social media, we are made more aware.

For me, this is a double-edged sword. I love seeing the pictures. I used to get so excited when they’d post snips of whatever they were working on. Some might even say we – or I – obsessed over details before we really knew they were even going to be real details on an album.  It wasn’t necessarily fair to the band. In hindsight I can say that doing all of that was part of MY process. I needed to learn how to blog. Understanding that I had a duty to be responsible with my words and opinions took me longer than I want to admit. The learning curve was a roller coaster, and at times I crashed and burned.

Balance is important. I might not be able to contain a grin, or a post or two when I see pictures indicating that the band is working in the studio, but I know that it is unfair to the band to dissect whatever new music may arise from this time before any of us even have it in hand. Not only would I be setting an unfair prejudice for their work, it would be unkind to fans. My hope is to be able to report on whatever progress is shared, without interjecting too much “early opinion”.  Overall, while the band is hard at work, I am hoping to be a bit more patient, introspective, and use my time wisely….once I finally unpack and find my holiday ribbon!

-R

Fans are fans: we’re all of the same stuff

I’m taking a break from life to reflect on a couple of very different, yet incredibly similar things I saw this morning.

As I woke up this morning, I grabbed my phone. I got into the nasty habit of doing this back when I worked at our resource center (think school). Sometimes a teacher would call in sick or I’d need to prepare for a sudden change in plans, so checking my phone helped to alleviate the panic I’d feel when walking through my office door a bit later to discover complete chaos. Nowadays, it is primarily that habit that drives me to grab my phone each morning. I check social media, often landing on Twitter to see what the people are talking about.  On this day, I saw a poll from a friend.

The friend – you may recognize his Twitter handle as “GuyFansofDuran” – had posted a poll asking for people to vote for their favorite. Sounds like a normal poll question we’ve all seen before, right? Well, there was a small twist – the songs were listed by abbreviation ONLY, and they weren’t your simple “AYNIN” or “HLTW” or even “TUA”.  No, these were songs that, for the most part, were more obscure, deeper cuts.  I enjoyed the challenge, figuring out the songs fairly quickly and then choosing my favorite. Others may have had a little more difficulty, taking the puzzles in stride and solving them with the help of Wikipedia or maybe even the discography on DD.com.

I don’t think knowing the abbreviations makes me any different from other fans, by the way. I think I just happened to wake up with all cylinders firing today, for a change! There have been other days where I couldn’t even think of what “MOW” or “DYBIS” could possibly stand for, so, take heed.

I loved that a group of fans could look at abbreviations, work through a bit of a puzzle, and continue to have a discussion over worthy answers. It felt to me as though one would have needed to be pretty astute with their Duran discography to easily grasp the answers. However, if someone really wanted to participate – it wouldn’t have mattered, because the answers could be found online. Even so, from what I could tell, most of the participants were fans I recognized from the community. I dare call them fellow “die hards”, and I appreciate our commonalities.

I enjoyed the banter, even though I knew as I clicked on my choice (which I am leaving vague on purpose) that it would be the least favorite.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the eight years I’ve blogged – we’re all different, and I don’t like choosing the same things as everyone else.

Only an hour or two later, my friend pointed out an example of an entirely different level of devotion to me.  Someone had taken the time to make a .gif that flashes through an animation of each of the album covers the band has created over their career alongside a tweet asking which was their favorite. I didn’t take the time to read all of the answers, but the one that caught my friend’s attention was one that didn’t call out a particular album by name, but by its background color.

Sure, one could make some assumptions based on that answer. I don’t know if the person knew the name of the album but didn’t bother to give it, or maybe they didn’t know the album at all and simply liked the color and imagery. I’ll never know for sure, and it would be a mistake to guess. What I can say though, is that in both cases, people engage on whatever level they’re comfortable. In as much as people took time to answer the poll by figuring out song titles, and sitting through the .gif to find a favorite album – fans were engaging.  A point upon which my friend and I agree.

The best fans aren’t necessarily the ones who know every song, every word, and every note. What does “best” really even mean, anyway? Knowing what “era” specific pictures come from based on hairstyles and clothing doesn’t help to rate the quality of a fan. Some fans might not know anything beyond Paper Gods. Maybe they don’t know that Warren ever played guitar, or that Andy left the band twice. They just know the music, or maybe they only know one album. Fans are fans. There is no good, better or best. Rating one another does very little to encourage people to engage.

Listen, I know how it is between fans. I’ve been at more than my fair share of meet-ups. We greet one another and then ask questions like, “How many shows have you seen?” or “Have you met the band before?” Some pose these questions in order to find common ground, others do it as a sort of fan “sizing up” ritual. I have watched eyes narrow, and then widen, while fans tell tales meant to impress of meeting band members, or narrating accounts from the front row.  It is what is done, and to pretend that sort of thing doesn’t happen or exist is foolish.

What I’ve come to know and accept, is that in the end, none of it really matters. Fans are fans. Sure, some know and have done more. Others might not even have enough experience behind them to know the full history of Duran Duran’s career, but they love that one album with the black and white cover, or the one that looks like a map on the back. That’s great!

-R

I Know I’m Going Nowhere

Am I the only one who laughed at Rhonda’s blog on Wednesday in which she discussed becoming a “top fan” of Duran Duran on Facebook?  I laughed hard while I read.  I cannot disagree with the sentiment that becoming a top fan does not really change anything or signal success.  Even though I know all that, I couldn’t help but to think, “That will never be me.”  Nope.  I’ll never get top fan status.  It used to be that this would bother me but I think I have accepted more of who I am and how I express my fandom.

So, I don’t really respond to Duran Duran on Facebook or Twitter.  I’m not totally sure why.  I could give a few possible reasons.  First, I have a job that does not really allow me to be on social media when I want to.  I cannot exactly tell my students to teach themselves while I check the latest.  Even when I have planning time (or time to prepare for class without students present), I don’t feel like I can just respond to social media much.  Take yesterday.  Rhonda and I exchanged tweets during my lunch.  This meant that I didn’t get an assignment graded like I had hoped.  I’m cool with responding to friends or family but to tweet  to or in response to my favorite band seems indulgent.  Besides, it isn’t like the work goes away if I don’t get it done during work hours.

Of course, that doesn’t totally explain it.  I could give the argument that I work a lot.  I do.  That is not a lie.  During campaign season, I work 70-80 hours a week.  Not kidding.  So I can certainly use that as a reason or excuse or whatever.  That isn’t the whole deal either, though.  A part of it goes beyond the lack of time or the strictness of my job.  No, it has everything to do with me.  I don’t respond to the band’s social media because it is easier for me that way.  What do I mean by that?  Simple.  I cannot get rejected and that matters more than the alternative.

Here’s a true story.  I have always been an outsider even with my Duranie status.  Some of you might be confused by that.  Even in 1984 when Duran was at the peak of their popularity in the US, it wasn’t cool to be a Duranie where I lived.  At that time, I lived on the south side of Chicago.  In 1984, Michael Jackson was king.  No one could compete against him in my neighborhood and in my school.  Yet, I dared to stick out that way.  Then, a couple of years later, I found myself in a different place and different neighborhood.  Did that help?  Nope.  People in my new hometown did not accept Duran either.  For my old town, it was that they weren’t as cool as Michael.  For my new one, they weren’t manly enough to be embraced.  Did I switch to become a fan of someone else?  Absolutely not.

Soon enough, though, I stopped trying to voice my opinion about music and bands.  I learned that all it would get me is dismissal at best and ridicule at worst.  Fast forward a couple of decades.  I assumed that life might be different.  I posted on message boards and started writing here.  Soon enough, I saw that I could not compete.  I wouldn’t respond in a way that was witty enough or smart enough or worse…I might come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.  None of this would get me accepted by other fans.  Even here, I have always known that I’m not as cool as Rhonda.  People have a harder time to relate to me.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  My priorities are very different.  Outside of fandom, I’m a teacher and an activist and that feels right to me.

I could respond to the band’s social media but I figure that it would just leave me open to criticism or mockery.  I don’t need that in my life.  It would get in the way and make me feel crummy about myself like I couldn’t measure up.  Nope, it is easier and better to simply not play.  This allows me to save my self-esteem and to get my work done, work that matters a LOT.

In the past, I would feel badly about that.  Am I a big enough fan?  I would worry.  Should I be doing something else to prove it?  How will the band and their team know about me?  (How ridiculous that I even thought that.)  Now, I’m giving myself a break.  Yes, I know why I don’t respond.  I accept it but I also have to be okay with not being a well-known fan.  I know how much I love the band.  I don’t need to be out there on the band’s social media to prove it.  I accept my secondary fan status and that I won’t get some badge on social media.  I understand that there are not a lot of other fans who want to friend me or follow me since I don’t talk about the band much.  I am not cool and am okay with that.

-A

Social media can still be good – let’s work together!

“The random aspects of our lives
Come together once in a while
So blinding and decidedly”

I have a love/really dislike relationship with Twitter these days. There’s a whole lot of anger out there, my friends. Much of it completely justified, but it is a lot for any one person to digest, and I take it in very tiny doses as result. However, I still see the good in social media. It’s well-hidden, but when it works, it is golden.

Yesterday, I wrote about my completely unexpected exchange with Ian Little, the co-producer of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Many other fans have had similar responses, saying that they too sent an email to musiceel@gmail.com  and received something back directly from Ian. It is wonderful to see someone connecting directly with the fan base.

The fact is, you and I know there are thousands of other Duran Duran fans out there. We compete with one another for tickets every single time the band announces a gig pre-sale! Duran Duran is able to routinely sell-out shows around the world, in arenas that seat thousands. But how to reach those people?

Nick once commented that the internet is a fat pipe of information. It is impossible to see it all. Amanda and I talk to fans nearly every single day who tell us they didn’t see our website or blog until “just a few weeks ago”. We’ve been writing for nearly eight years now. Yes, eight years! You’d think we’d have gotten the word out by now, but we still haven’t. We try, but it’s impossible unless you’ve got a lot of money and time to run ad campaign after ad campaign. We have neither, so we rely on word of mouth, or in this case…fast and furious typing!

It comes down to you and me, my friends. You and me. I have written about the Direct to Fan marketing platform in the past, but as a quick refresher—basically YOU are the ad campaign. Instead of hiring some slick PR company or ad company to get the word out, bands use the greatest “bang for their buck” they’ve got: their fans.  They market directly to their own fan base, and then harness their seemingly endless energy to go out and spread the word to their friends, and so on. In just a few tweets that are retweeted by others, and retweeted again (and again!), millions of eyes can be reached in just a matter of a few clicks. This campaign is exactly everything that Direct to Fan is about, and here is the time we can prove to everyone—from Ian Little to Duran Duran—that it really works.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to broadcast the news about Ian Little’s e-book based on his experience co-producing and living with the band for about a year during the writing and production of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Tell your friends to email musiceel@gmail.com  with DD Project in the subject so that they can be added to the list of real fans who are excited to support the project.  If you haven’t taken the one-minute to send the email yourself, get on it!  Then, tweet out the news, post it on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and anywhere else you frequent.

Why not also tweet the news directly to relevant social media influencers? 80s radio DJ’s, MTV personalities, maybe even authors of books on 80s music, just to name a few categories of people to start from. If we can get just a couple of those people to be interested enough to tweet this out, we might just get this social media engine working!

If I still haven’t quite convinced someone to email Ian yet, let me share a small anecdote he sent me about the making of my favorite Duran Duran song ever: “Is There Something I Should Know” (Ian refers to this as “Please, Please Tell Me Now”)

I am very proud of PPTMN because it was the first time I’d been present all through the writing process with a band. As you know PPTMN was my 1st outing with the band, I’ll let you into a little secret. As you can tell the song is built around Andy’s Beatlesesq guitar rift and originally the song started with that rift and the rest of the band. 

I said I felt it sounded too generic and that it needed a more distinct intro so that the second time someone heard it they’d know it was the new DD single. So I suggested using the drum intro from “Leader Of The Pack”, the Motown classic. So Roger played the beat – bam, boom-boom Bang! bam, boom-boom Bang! and Simon sang “Please Please Tell Me Now” over the top and we had a memorable intro!”
Isn’t that a cool little story?? It is something that not many people knew – and the book he is writing will be jam-packed with anecdotes like that, written just for fans.
I told Ian yesterday that SATRT changed everything I thought I knew about music, at the ripe old age of 13. It really did. This album took Duran Duran’s sound, which already felt multi-dimensional, and made it even deeper. More  layers, more sounds, it was amazing. The Beatles accomplished something similar when they wrote and recorded Sgt. Pepper’s or The White Album. Music was forever changed by those albums and the way they were written and recorded. History will say the same about Duran Duran. They changed music with albums like SATRT. Not just video, but music, too.
I hope that everyone who reads this blog and follows us on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media will take a minute to email Ian with their support, and then encourage their friends to do the same!

I said I wasn’t going to write about the set anymore

I swore I wouldn’t talk about the set list again…but then I did. As I’m asking myself “When will you EVER learn, Rhonda”, I figure I may as well write about it.

This past weekend, I saw a post on Facebook regarding the band’s set list. I read through the comments because, well, of course I did.  A question came up about whether or not the band plays a lot of their B-sides. Not deep album cuts, not bonus tracks, but B-sides. I felt like I could answer the question without getting myself into a huge discussion or trouble.

I responded by saying that as a rule, they really stick to the songs most people know. Not a controversial statement by any means, and I know well enough to stay away from the emotional side of that. How I may have felt about whether or not they played Late Bar or Secret Oktober, for instance, was immaterial to that conversation. Best to stay matter of fact and move on. I answered pretty offhandedly, without a lot of flowery words, and moved on to the rest of my day.

Later that night, I picked up my phone again, only to see that more comments had in fact been made. The conversation went from discussing the actual set list, to a sideways chat about who should be blamed (meaning band member). There was a time when I might have joined in, joking along. The KEY word in that sentence is “joking”, but even back then, some people would take us seriously.

Nowadays? Oh hell no, I’m not looking for that kind of fight, because when I say something, it’s seen and broadcasted as Daily Duranie is saying something.  I get it, and I’m not even going to step one little toe into all of that. The last thing I need, is to have the word get out that Rhonda from Daily Duranie is blaming Roger (purely for example and no, I don’t blame anyone!) for the set list. Ah, no. No I am not. Have fun fellow Duranies, and I’ll see myself out.

I did eventually go back and clarify my comment because I am a sucker for punishment and couldn’t just let it go.  As I said last night, the band has a fantastic problem.  They have a large catalog of great songs to choose from, and there’s no way to please everyone. They also continue to attract an audience of NOT just die-hard fans, but a wide variety of people. Many of those only know Duran’s hits, and while that might bother some – the band would be foolish to ignore that there are people in that audience that only know songs like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”.  It’s just not all that simple. I think it’s pretty obvious I’d go to the shows no matter whether they play the same set list ten times, or they switch it up.

I’ve been to shows where the band left of “The Reflex”, for example. I would go home feeling great about the gig, and there would be people on Facebook complaining about how their favorite song was left out. People would say they’d never been to a show before and that their only wish was to hear that song, and since it wasn’t played the entire concert was ruined for them. I don’t know if the band ever reads or hears about that kind of thing, but it would send me straight over the edge if I were them. I’d get to the point where I’d probably play all of the hits, fearing more comments like that if I didn’t. Particular so, if I were the least bit sensitive.

Huh. Maybe there is something to that set list thing, after all.

And, while I’m at it – they’re not the only band to stick to the same set for an entire tour or more. I saw Chic when they played on the bill with DD quite a bit during the Paper Gods tour. Every night, they played the same set list, right down to Nile’s speech about getting cancer.  I was amazed that every single night, Nile was able to keep up the energy and excitement, even when he spoke – because it was the same show. Yet I danced and felt energized. Every single night, without fail, I’d tell Amanda that I wasn’t going to dance (out of being tired), and yet there I’d go, up and at ’em before the first song was even over. Those shows were among some of the best I’ve ever seen, too.

On the same token, I’ve been to shows where a band has decided to showcase their deepest cuts, songs that only the most ardent of fans would know – and I’ve been bored stiff. I saw The Cure many years ago, and they didn’t play a single hit. I left early out of boredom, and I’m not sorry.  I’m not a huge fan of The Cure, and while I appreciated that they wanted to play for their fans, this was at a festival. Judging by the amount of people who were leaving with me, I wasn’t alone in my boredom.

Actually, Duran Duran had gone on right before The Cure that night, and they played songs everyone knew. I was way the hell back on the lawn, and even back there, the crowd was wild, dancing away throughout their set. So, I can’t really find the words to complain when Duran Duran decides to play what people know.

No, the band is never going to get it perfect for every single person. I know plenty of fans who stopped going to shows during the Paper Gods tour because as they put it, “The shows are all the same and I’m not going to pay $400 or more to see the band play the same set over and over again.”  I can’t argue with them either. They certainly have a point. Maybe Duran Duran isn’t expecting their fans to go to ten or fifteen shows on every tour. I would venture to guess most people don’t.  Those that do, well, we should expect to hear the same basic set list at least most of the time and not complain.

The band really can’t win, though. It took me a while to see that and really get it. After all, I complained about the set list for many years – something that I can’t pretend didn’t happen. That said, I can’t keep finding fault with a band who is trying to entertain their audience as best they can. Sure, I’d love to hear a B-side or bonus track thrown in for good measure, and every now and then, it HAS happened. As a rule, the band does stick to the songs most people know or have at least heard before. But every now and then, they shock the heck out of me and play something I never thought I’d hear. I’m not going to complain about those moments.

This is why I’m not going to keep writing about the set list. I’m not going to complain about specific songs anymore, either. Sure, Nick might peer down from his “Great Keyboard Rig on the Stage” and watch my reaction during the first few notes of “Hungry Like the Wolf”, but I don’t need to write about that.

All any of you need to know is that yes, even after fifty shows, I’m still going back for more. It obviously doesn’t matter what they play, I’m still on board, and I still love it every single time.

If that’s not an endorsement to convince others to go see a band, I don’t know what is.

-R

 

 

How We Get Connected

The lyric, “This is how we get connected,” from Last Night in the City is one of my very favorites.  It is the essential idea behind fandom and fan communities.  Being part of a fandom can be very different than just being a “fan”.  Let me explain what I mean by that.  I am a fan of a ton of different things.  I really like vanilla lattes so I’m a fan of them.  My closet is full of boots as they are my favorite type of shoes so you could say that I’m a fan.  I enjoy the TV show, Designated Survivor so that makes me a fan.  That said, I’m not a part of any fandom related to any of those.  No, to be a member of a fandom, I believe, means reaching out to others.  It means making connections.

I remember when I fell for the TV show, Roswell, at the end of the 1990s.  Initially, I sought out online information to find spoilers as I was impatient about what was going to happen.  Soon enough, I found a message board in which fans spent time talking to other fans about the show.  I never really thought about doing something like that but after lurking for awhile, I decided to try it.  Not surprising to anyone reading this blog, but I really liked it.  That fandom and message board came at the very right time in my life when I needed to make connections with others.  It helped to ease a sense of loneliness and isolation I had from having moved to a new city where I knew no one.  Likewise, before joining that board, part of me really believed that I was all alone in the love for a little TV show and more.  Once I started chatting with people, I loved it and soon enough feelings of sadness were pushed to the side.

Then, of course, I fell back in love with Duran Duran.  This time, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to find other fans.  I had learned that making and having those connections were essential both for my outlook on life but also made being a fan fun.  Initially, those connections formed at a little message board called DuranDuranFans.com.  Over time, those connections and other, newer ones moved over to social media.  First, it was MySpace then Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Now, though, the chatter on social media is different.  It is a lot less about Duran Duran and a lot more on current events and politics.  This shift happened over time but partly as a result of less conversation about Duran and more concern about the current state of U.S. at least with the people I am connected to.

I do miss chatting with other fans about Duran Duran.  That said, I’m thankful that we have this blog so that I can still express how I feel about what is happening with the band.  In many cases, responses on Twitter or Facebook to blog posts remind me of those initially formed connections as people are simply talking about Duran and nothing else.  Back when I first joined the Duran fandom, post reunion, I needed that connection with other fans a lot.  Realizing that others loved the band as much as I do helped me to embrace my love for the band in a way that I wouldn’t have done if I remained a lone fan.  My fandom grew much deeper as a result.

Now, it is different.  It is no longer about forming connections but about keeping them.  My fandom is as secure as it ever has been.  It isn’t going anywhere.  That Duranie card will never leave my possession.  Those initial interactions with other fans have either become deeper in which a real, genuine friendship has formed or they have faded over time.  In participating in social media now, I do want to maintain those friendships.  Absolutely.  Yet, just like my Roswell fan self of the 1990s, I need to know that I’m not alone.  In 1999, I feared that I was the only person, especially the only adult, watching and enjoying the heck out of a TV show.  When I joined in on the message board, I understood that I wasn’t.

Something similar is true now, too.  I still worry that I’m all alone in how I’m thinking and feeling about what is going in my country.  When I see others say or feel like I do, I am comforted.  It allows me to not feel so alone.  I feel stronger with more hope.  That matters a lot to me.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to maintain my connections from the Duran fandom.  The opposite is true.  I want those friendships to be strong and I still want to discuss any and all happenings with the band.  I wish that there were more opportunities to do that.  Maybe there are and I’m not just aware of where.  Where do all of you talk about Duran these days?

When I was a kid, I remember thinking that I needed to choose one clear identity.  Was I going to a dorky person obsessed with bands and clubbing?  Was I going to be a serious teacher dedicated to helping her students at all hours?  Would my entire life be focused on political activism?  Throughout high school and college, I found myself picking one and attempting to dive into that one aspect fo myself.  For awhile, I would be extremely happy but over time, I found myself frustrated and missing a different element of my personality.  Now, I recognize that I am and need to be all of those things and can be simultaneously.  I can’t and shouldn’t try to hide part of who I am even if that makes me unpopular or uncool.

Therefore, I need to be able to connect with others for a variety of reasons.  My teacher friends allow me to vent or express concern over my job.  Political associates make me feel supported and reassure me that I’m not crazy.  My fellow Duranies remind me of good times and the band that I  love.  I need all of those connections.

-A

Are we still a Networker Nation?

In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned the power of social media. Although I don’t have Sirius XM radio, within moments of the interview John Taylor did with Richard Blade on Monday, I knew what had been discussed. I felt triumphant.

Say whatever you like about the evils of Twitter and Facebook. They can definitely be a cesspool of humanity. I agree that Twitter can seem like an echo chamber. I don’t believe that Twitter changes anyone’s mind, and I don’t think it is necessarily the best place to chat about politics. In all honesty, I stay off of it as much as possible anymore because it isn’t enjoyable. The population of people that once posted has changed.  I think even the very function of Twitter has changed since its inception.

However, if I need information quickly, Twitter is my failsafe. I can put a question out there, and get an accurate answer in an incredibly  impressive amount of time. Twitter is reactive, sometimes explosively so. Facebook seems to be more of a warm, fuzzy place…most of the time. It is where I connect with extended family, and it is where I have learned things about family members that I really didn’t ever need to know. It is also where I get good and bad news from childhood friends, and find out that my former high school crushes have gained several chins and collected wives along the way in the same spirit as I have Duran Duran ticket stubs. Even so, I don’t tend to loiter on social media as I once did.

I do miss sitting around and tweeting with friends. It was like a giant chat room, and no, we didn’t always agree. That didn’t matter, though. It was about the gathering, the communication, even the immediacy and yes, even the friendship. Something happened though, and for all of the good that could be found, Twitter turned angry. It isn’t very enjoyable much of the time. I don’t see many fans on Twitter these days, at least not that are there for the pure enjoyment of being a fan. I suppose we take our cues from the band to some extent, who themselves seem to have left social media – at least as recognizable people using their own names (Not that I know otherwise. I’m just saying that if they wanted to participate under a blanket of anonymity, they probably could.)  I can’t really lay blame in any one direction. Even so, when I need information, it does have its place.

I don’t think we can ignore the fact that within moments of news breaking, whether that is a devastating earthquake, or a tour being announced, it is being discussed on Twitter. The same holds true for Facebook, although the reaction time is longer. Social media has its place, but where do we go to really enjoy being fans without the trappings that “real” life on social media has to offer? Is it that we’re all just too busy now? It wasn’t that many years ago when the message board and/or forum of DDM was a bustling place. Post counts jumped by the dozens within seconds. Does anyone still talk about the band anywhere?

Oddly, we have a message board that is largely ignored, and I need to shoulder at least half of that responsibility. I find that I spend very little time “online” these days. It isn’t because I have that much less time, it is because the last thing I want to see or do is talk politics, or read about more horrors taking place within my country. I don’t need five hundred friends sharing the same comments, memes, and complaints. I’m sick of it.  Rest assured, I feel the same as many of you, although likely not with the same intensity as some. I’m just tired of talking about it all, or reading about it. So, I stay offline as much as possible. I can’t imagine I’m alone. I check out Instagram, I smile at pictures. I love cats and dogs. I need the good things more than I need to read the bad things five hundred times.

So while there is certainly power within social media, and our fingers flying across the keys does far more to “spread the word” than it used to, I have to wonder where the fun has really gone. Is it time to fire up the message boards again? Sometimes, I wonder. I miss our online fun.

-R

I’m Not Alone: Embracing the Connection from Fans

In one way or another, I have been studying fandom now for just about nine years. You’d think I’d be an expert by now (or at least have a Master’s degree!), but instead I’ll just say that I have a very good grasp on the complications of fandom. Not an “expert”, not even very knowledgable. I just know about how much I don’t know.  Progress?  I’m not sure.

Every once in a while, something new comes down the old Twitter timeline to grease the wheels. This time, it was something a friend who had recently gone to see New Kids on the Block in concert. I believe it was an excerpt from their tour program (forgive me if that’s incorrect), and it’s certainly worthy of sharing here.

photo courtesy of @expired_data

When I read the statement, I have to admit, I wished that I had been a New Kids fan. I was never into their music, but I have friends who still go to see them. They speak of meet and greets, and fan events like cruises, and even tweeting back and forth with them on Twitter. There seems to be very little barrier (if any), between fan and band, which to me is both incredibly unusual…and honestly…a little other-worldly, given my own experiences as a Duran Duran fan. It’s completely different from what I know.

Maybe some of you would argue otherwise. Perhaps those who really know the band would say they’re just as tuned-in. Maybe not. Maybe Duran Duran is more reserved. Personally, I still revel in the moments when Simon comes to center stage just before they perform during the encore, because he usually speaks from the heart. Sometimes it’s about the fans. I appreciate that moment because it’s heartfelt. I almost always leave a show feeling bittersweet and thankful I’m fan.

There are so many potential discussions to be had here, it’s difficult to know where to begin. I can also see how easily this can slip into “why can’t Duran Duran be this way” territory, which it did the other night when I had some chats about it on Twitter.

There were tweets about the relative absence of Duran Duran members on social media (aside from the DDHQ posts). Some mentioned that sometimes the band just seems very inaccessible, cold, and distant. I had one person even say that sometimes they look down from the stage at the fans as though we’re trying to climb into their lifeboat  just a like a scene from the movie Titanic. Still others think the band is slowly trying to disengage because they are coming closer to their own retirement.

Whether or not any of that is true, I think as fans we tend to expect a lot more than any human can deliver. Also, despite speaking the same basic language, the differences between our cultures and the types of boundaries we maintain are vast. I can cite hundreds, if not thousands of tweets I’ve seen with my own eyes from fans that are miles over the line of what is socially acceptable. While yes, it’s all in good fun when we send them, we don’t know how they’re being taken on the other side. I must count myself in that insanity. I’ve done dumb things over the years just like anyone else. Lastly, the band skyrocketed to fame hard and fast at a very young age. I can’t help but believe that didn’t have some effect.

Comparing Duran Duran to the New Kids on the Block is like comparing an apple and an orange. They’re both fruit – juicy and yummy – but in completely different ways. It is unfair to hold one up to the same standards as the other, so we (I) must resist the urge.

So, let’s focus on the obvious – how cool was that statement??  I think what strikes me most is how well they recognize exactly what fans feel. Not only do they acknowledge how they feel as a band, they seem to realize that fans feel the same way. They share that connection, and one feeds the other. I’ve often wondered if bands out there really get it. NKOTB certainly does.

The last few lines really tug my heartstrings. “That reminder, that ‘somebody out there knows me’ and that ‘I am not alone.'” (Anybody know, are those lyrics?)  That’s how I feel at a show, which is crazy because Duran Duran doesn’t know me, but sometimes it feels like they do.

The one thing I’d say to Duran Duran, if possible, is that whenever I’m on social media and get into this kind of discussion with fans, invariably someone will interject and say that the interpersonal connection doesn’t matter. It’s only about the music. I can count on someone tweeting me to say that every single time. In some ways, it feels a little like a dismissive statement, in other ways, it feels like they’re trying to tell me that since I’m not “all about the music”, I’m less-than.  While I cannot deny that for some fans, it may really be all about the music… maybe they go to concerts, buy albums and go home. I don’t hear from them about my blogs, or see them online very often, if at all. I’m here to tell you that for the vast majority of Duran Duran fans that I have ever run into, it is NOT JUST ABOUT THE MUSIC. Music plays a huge part, but there’s a little something more there than just liking some songs or a few albums over the years.

I like a lot of different bands. I sing along to many different songs on the radio, and buy hundreds of albums. I love music in general. But there are remarkably few bands that I spend real time on. I mean REAL time. Forget the money, I’m talking time that could (and probably should in my case) be spent elsewhere. My friends come from this community. My travels are at least in part due to this band. I wouldn’t spend that time if I didn’t like, if not adore, the people I was supporting. I’d just sing along on the radio or buy an album and be done with it. That isn’t what is going on for me (and thousands of others) with Duran Duran. You don’t spend thirty or forty years on a band if you don’t feel some sort of connection with them. You just don’t.

Sure, you can pay someone to do all that work for you. The tweeting, the fan gatherings, the contests. Every band does that, and by all means it is a vital and necessary part of PR that no one has the time or passion to do on their own. I will just say that the few times John even goes to the trouble of sending a video that gets posted, or when Nick takes a picture pointing out Late Bar on a sign…or when Simon takes a picture from his hotel room just to share what he’s seeing, those moments are golden. Why? Because it’s an acknowledgment that we exist. That they know we’re out here, still paying attention, still supporting, still being fans…and maybe, just maybe, we actually matter to them even a fraction as much as they matter to us. It’s about the connection. Despite what some try to tell me, I know enough to realize that yes, it really does matter.

I applaud the members of New Kids on the Block for not only getting the message, but embracing it. By far, this is the most lovely thing I’ve ever read from a band to its fans.

-R

 

 

Running Against the Tide – Daily Duranie and Social Engagement

If they could see me now…

“They” in this case is all of you, and thank goodness none of you can. I’m sitting here, at 10:15 am on a Wednesday (it IS Wednesday, right?) at my computer. I have coffee in front of me, and I’m typing this while in snowflake print flannel jammies, a pink hoodie, socks, and my hair…well…it’s a mess. Tissues litter my lap (and floor if we’re being really honest. I see no point in sugar-coating now), my nose is red and raw, my lips are chapped, and apparently cracked, as I just found out (ouch). To top it all off,  I’m sweating because I am pretty sure I’m breaking my fever. Or…I’m having an amazingly bad hot flash. I really can’t even tell the difference anymore. YAY!

What does that have to do with Duran Duran?

NOTHING!!  Except that even while sick, I’m idiotic (shall we go for driven??) enough to blog. I also don’t mind sharing my far less than glamorous moments (spoiler: there are MANY) in excruciating detail. Think of it this way, however bad you might have felt this morning, I have somehow made it not seem so terrible.

So, what’s shaking today? I don’t even know. I’ve been in bed since about 7pm last night. I had my phone with me, but I gave in to the chills around 8:30 or so and finally put my phone down and curled up into a ball under my comforter and afghan. My worst writing days are those when I feel like I’ve been out of contact, and lately—well, for a while now really, I’ve removed myself from just that!

When Daily Duranie first started, I was all about the social media. I loved social engagement! I was practically a social butterfly…ONLINE. I liked flitting in and out, around and about, checking Twitter and Facebook and talking with other fans. I knew what was going on in the community, I heard the rumors, the hyperbole, and the flat-out gossip. Trouble was, some of those things nagged at me. I’d read things, and then not be able to let them go.

A common scenario would be that I’d get our Daily Duranie email and there’d be an unkind comment in there. I’d bring it up online—venting, basically—and then someone would call me out for doing so. Saying that I should expect as much, and so on. It ticked me off that I couldn’t even vent my own feelings without judgment. So, I’d swear off saying anything about the blog online, and I’d be good for a period. I’d keep my thoughts to myself, and then something would happen and I’d unleash it, only to have another Duranie play smack down. It wasn’t fun, and I started having massive writers block. I can’t necessarily attribute that to any one thing, but I can tell you that at a certain point, I started worrying about what I was writing. Would someone get mad? Did the band care? Would I get more hate mail? I wouldn’t say I obsessed about those things, but I’d hit “publish” each day, those thoughts swirled in my head.

A couple of years ago, there was a larger-than-normal blow-up. I am not going to get into details, but it taught me a lesson. First, when you make jokes – someone out there is always going to be offended. It doesn’t matter what is said, what the joke is about, someone will be offended, and reacting is the very last thing I should have done. Hindsight is an amazing thing.  Anyway…   Secondly, there are one hell of a lot of people out there in the online world that take on the role of being holier than thou. I’m not going to elaborate, but there you have it. Lastly, when someone tries to take your bliss away, don’t let them. Friends do not do that to one another. After that incident, I took some time off, and realized that I needed to change the way I handled myself and social media.

Some might remember back when Amanda and I would interact on Twitter. We’d “talk” on Daily Duranie,  which got very confusing because it seemed as though our Twitter was talking to itself (it was), but it was fun! We don’t do that these days. It is a very rare thing when I respond as Daily Duranie, and while I sometimes all of the social engagement, I enjoy the peace of mind.

I let my thoughts fly as I blog, hit “publish”, and then I am done with it.  I think it was Simon that explained that for the band, they own the album until it’s released, and then it becomes the property of the listener, of the fans, of the public. I tried very hard to understand what he meant, but for a long time his words would circle in my head and while I’d pretend to “get it”, I really didn’t. Well, I do now, 100%.  Once I hit publish, I don’t look back. The hardest days are when we get comments, and I have to read through them. Sometimes I’ll want to debate or argue, but I’ve trained myself to just hit “approve” and move on and stop thinking about it. The exercise is difficult, sometimes painful, but I have to do it. Anything else just gets me into trouble.

I typically won’t even respond on Facebook when readers discuss the topic, because when I do—invariably it gets me into muddy waters. At some point I learned that my “job”, so to speak, is simply to begin the conversation. The rest of it is up to you guys, and I let you have at it. There are times when readers completely miss my point or disagree with me, and in the past I would try to explain. I’ve realized that most of the time, it’s pointless. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I need to let you, dear reader, decide what my words mean to YOU, whether I like it or not. It has been one hell of a rough road and learning curve, but I think I’ve finally managed to learn my lesson.  Maybe. Sometimes I’ll still respond on Facebook depending upon what is said and, most importantly, who is saying it, but mostly I try not to even look.

Particularly in the case of Twitter, it is far too easy to let 140 characters get the best of you. Or me. I think most of us have had our fair number of Twitter “exchanges”, and while some don’t care what anyone else says to them, I do. The bad things tend to really stick with me. In fact, I can still relate, word for word, one of the last truly bad Twitter exchanges I had on the Daily Duranie account, and if you ask Amanda, she’ll tell you that I still bring it up from time to time. The experience spoke volumes to me, and weighed heavily. Overall, it got to the point where the negative things outweighed the positive, and it was then that I made the conscious decision to stop feeding the monster.  I couldn’t continue social engagement in the same ways without really hurting myself and the blog. Coincidentally, this is was almost about the time that Amanda and I began writing with a firm deadline, and I had to focus on writing.  In September I took a job, and now I’m not even at home as often anyway.  I suppose my priorities have changed.

So, if you were ever wondering why Amanda and I stopped participating in social engagement…there you go. My guess is that we’re not alone.

-R

Just Get a Picture: Simon’s Twitter Win

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sporadically during this last tour, Simon has taken to posting his view from his hotel room.  Sometimes, that view is of palm trees and a sunny sky, or a pretty flower garden. Other times, it is looking down over the top of a hotel roof, complete with industrial-sized AC units, or into a brick wall across the way, or even a tiled shower. Today, he posted one from his cabin, which is on a boat somewhere in the ocean.  I believe I read last week that he was in Cannes for the Panerai Régates Royales.  (He posted pictures from his room there, too)

Here’s the thing: I love the pictures. Simon doesn’t have to do much – just post the pics, and let his followers respond.  And I do.  And so do many others.  I have no idea if Simon reads them (I doubt it).  The point is, just by posting those snapshots of where ever he is and whatever he’s seeing at the time, he’s engaging and sharing with  his followers just like any of us might.  And THAT my friends, is the point of Twitter.

Granted, I too remember the glory days of John’s Tweetfests. I remember doubling over, cackling with laughter at some of the replies I’d see flash through my timeline when he’d be online and active. Those were good times. Sure, he was engaging and let’s face it—he had fans salivating over every last tweet.  But I think there’s a potentially hefty price that needs paid when you give so much of yourself online. I know how I feel when I’ve dug deep and shared things here. It leaves one feeling vulnerable, and that isn’t always comfortable. I think Twitter, and social media in general, is one of those things where you have to find your groove and what works for you.

What I like about Simon’s posts is that well, he actually tweets, first of all.  No, he doesn’t post all the time. He doesn’t really have to, either. It’s just nice seeing something from him every once in a while. For me personally, the toughest part about the in-between tour time is when the band just disappears. It’s silly really, but here we are, writing this blog, being fans, obsessing over every last news item, etc.  We go all out while they’re touring, and then suddenly, BAM—it is over and we’re back to real life. And there’s nothing. Talk about withdrawals! Yeah, I’m an addict. I think that’s probably pretty apparent to most everyone by now, including myself. Hello Daily Duranie!! So to actually see tweets every now and then from Simon, regardless of whether they’re about Duran Duran or not??  I’ll take ’em.

Secondly, they’re casual and light. It’s difficult (but not impossible) to be deep on Twitter. I have had conversations on there, but a lot of the nuance gets lost in 140 characters. Photos leave a lot open to interpretation, and there’s room for both depth and cheek, if you want it.  Again, I don’t know if he’s reading, but he’s definitely engaging.  I like seeing that he’s found something that seems to work.

I have friends who really don’t like Twitter. They don’t get the point. I remember when we were all sort of stuck on “Wait, you mean I just type whatever I’m doing at the moment?  Who cares?!?” It’s so far beyond that now.  I like that I can just put something out there, into the universe so to speak, and see if it catches on and causes conversation. I also use it as a sort of train of thought thing. Sometimes, I’m ranting about home. Sometimes, I’m laughing at something stupid I’ve done (that happens a lot). Other times, I’m posting about my dog. I like that it doesn’t take much time and I still get something out of it.

Twitter has its place in the sphere of social media. Facebook is personal. Twitter can be light and easy. Instagram is for the more visual amongst us. I don’t do Snapchat but I’ve been told by my kids to stay the heck off of it (I kind of take this as the “get off my lawn” statement for the young).  If I had to pinpoint the one thing I like most about Simon’s pictures is that it’s Simon being Simon. Sure, he’s Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran—I don’t think there’s any getting past that at this point for him, but I’d also like to think he’s being himself, or as much as he’s willing to share with the world.  I like it.

-R