When I don’t have real news to report, admittedly I fall back to historical dates. They tend to either jar my memory, or get my creative juices flowing. Or, it remains as dry as the Sahara, and I struggle a lot to get something written. You just never know!
Today though, there’s a lot to get my brain going. I really don’t know what it is about March 27th, but this seems to be a day for label deals. Perhaps that is because many of their albums (or so it seems) have been released during autumn, so give or take six months prior brings us to March? I really don’t know. I’m not an expert, but I do know that in 2009, Simon blogged on duranduran.com that the band had left Sony Records.
There’s a fine line drawing my senses together
Much has been written about that time. The band had recorded and self-produced Reportage. Sony wasn’t sold on it, and had given the band a list of names to choose from to produce their album. We all know that during that time, Andy had also left the band for the second time, and of course – Timbaland entered the picture for Red Carpet Massacre. I still believe to this day that Sony felt that anything Timbaland touched would turn to gold (or platinum), and when that didn’t happen – they were convinced it was the band that was the problem.
I still smile nearly every year when I think back on it. It was probably the best move imaginable for the band – regardless of whether the band left Sony or if Sony left them. I cheered when I read the news that day, and when I posted the update on a message board (DDF), a mysterious visitor commented that they could not be happier. This was of course, AFTER handing me my backside on a platter for nearly crucifying the album. I still chuckle about that. I can honestly say it was the only time I’ve ever really laughed at myself after being publicly flogged. Perhaps I deserved it…but maybe the person doing the flogging needed to understand that it’s OK to still be proud of something that the general public didn’t fully embrace at the time, too.
Give me strength at least give me a light
On the same date in 2015, Duran Duran announced that Warner Bros. Records (Part of Warner Music Group) signed a global “recording contract” for Paper Gods. Many fans argue whether or not the band is still signed by Warner Bros. I cannot confirm one way or another, as I do not know. However, Duran Duran is not included on their current artist roster. I just checked the website again today, but I don’t know how up to date that really is. Then again, they signed with Warner Bros. in 2015. Seems like they might update that roster every once in a while?
The truth is, they could have had any one of a number of different deals with Warner. Production deals are common, although unlikely since the album was already written and recorded when Warner Bros. signed them. A distribution deal is also possible, even globally. That means the label would have been responsible for getting the product out into the world, and maybe even marketing. Standard deals are another option, which are what most people think of when they hear of a label “signing” a band. A deal like that usually includes development, recording, pressing, distribution and marketing. Lastly, there is the 360 deal, which is common these days. This means the label has their hands in everything from touring to brand development and everything in between, and the band would lose a lot of control and autonomy. Each type of deal has it’s benefits and detractions (like money, or lack thereof!).
Or, it could be some clever wording from DDHQ and PR people so that fans don’t really know what type of deal it is – because it’s really none of our business anyway.
There’s a chance you could be right
Many people have commented that since John said Warner Bros. suggested the record store day offering of As The Lights Go Down on vinyl, that must mean they’re still with Warner Bros. Again, I’m not an expert, but that’s possible. Another possibility is that the band is still on good terms with Warner Bros, and asked them to press and distribute the album. PR “spin” would be that Warner came to the band with this bright idea because it makes it sound as though the band is in demand. Which isn’t wrong. We fans are kind of demanding, aren’t we? That sort of spin happens frequently! According to John, the entire catalog is under “one umbrella” these days, so I can see this scenario as a possibility.
There’s no reason that I can find at this point, to assume anything more or less drastic. Paper Gods did well for Duran Duran – it was the first top ten for them since 1993, and it would not be a surprise if the band stayed with Warner Bros. for future albums. It also wouldn’t shock me if they didn’t – but by all means feel free to enlighten me otherwise!
In any case, March 27th seems to be the day of deals for this band. Makes you kind of wonder what the next year or two could bring!
Did you read the exciting news released by Duran Duran this week? In case you missed it, Warner is releasing a double LP of live music from “As The Lights Go Down” for Record Store Day 2019. The special was a TV concert filmed in Oakland, CA for the Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984. As a collector, this news excites me as I have long yearned for the band/management/record label to release more physical music items. However, there are a few items in the press release that didn’t sound right to me. In this era of “Fake News”, I had to wonder how much of this info is “fluff”, and how much is fact.
First, the press release claims that “Duran Duran played three incredible shows to over 150k people at the Oakland Coliseum”. We all know they were incredible, that’s for sure! However, I have done some research over the years and I believe the biggest non-festival shows that Duran Duran have played in the United States were at Madison Square Garden in 1984 and the Staples Center in 2005 with both venues having a capacity of 20,000 people for concerts. Naturally, it seemed incorrect that they played to 150,000 people over three shows in Oakland.
Some quick research (and the fact that I’m a sports fan) indicates that there are two neighboring properties as part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex, both commonly referred to “Oakland Coliseum”. First, there is the football and baseball stadium that can hold 50,000 people for concerts. Second, there is the basketball arena (now called Oracle Arena) that can hold 16,000 for concerts. Duran Duran played in the arena, as seen in the As The Lights Go Down video, so it is not possible that they played to 150,000 people over those three days.
Second, the press release states that “no official products were ever released”. Again, I take issue with this statement. The actual video for “As The Lights Go Down” was released on DVD as part of the 2010 Special Edition CD/DVD box set for “Seven And The Ragged Tiger”. Also, the live tracks were released as part of an iTunes audio album in 2010. Even though Itunes is a digital format, it is still considered a product in my book since I had to pay for it!!
Furthermore, for those that do not know, the live tracks presented on “As The Lights Go Down” are the same live tracks released on the live album “Arena”. The audio is mixed and edited a bit differently, and the “As The Lights Go Down” version has some of the sound effects from the video incorporated, but the base live tracks are the same recording. Therefore, I have a hard time believing that “no official products were ever released” with regards to “As The Lights Go Down”.
Third, the last line of the press release states that the release “is available from 13 April 2019 (Record Store Day) in records stores across the country”. I am not a card-carrying member of the grammar and spelling police, but shouldn’t it read record stores? Also, which country is being referred to here? I’m guessing it is referring to the United States, but then why use the European date format? Fans outside the United States may take offense to this wording. I believe the record is being released in the U.S. and U.K.
Finally, all wording issues and “fluff” aside from the press release, am I excited for this release, or am I just a bit triggered about all this? I’m absolutely very happy!!! Duran Duran has not participated in Record Store Day every year. The fact that we have something to buy on this special day in April for the second straight year is step in the right direction!
The two pink and blue colored vinyls match the gatefold cover perfectly and also gives a nice nod to the recent Paper Gods era/branding. The package will also feature photos from Denis O’Regan. As an audio collector, it will be fantastic to have this recording on a physical format. There has also been some debate online if Duran Duran are still signed to Warner. This RSD release confirms there is still some relationship, even though Duran Duran is not currently on the artist roster at warnerbrosrecords.com.
I would like to give Amanda and Rhonda a special thank you for allowing me to write a short piece concerning this press release. I don’t write a lot, but I think it’s a great outlet to organize and communicate your thoughts, and sometimes it just feels better to “get the words out”!! Happy Record Store Day 2019 to everyone!
Jeff Bistline has been a dedicated Duranie since 1984. His passions in life are his Duran Duran collection, college basketball, and his boxer dog, Vivi. He is an accountant and lives in Nebraska.
Every once in a while, a fan will reach out with a profound idea that should be shared with the community-at-large. Amanda and I strive for Daily Duranie to be a safe place for fans to share their ideas. While not everyone may always agree with the message being shared, we think it is important for fans to have a peaceful space to say what they want to say. In that spirit, we have a guest blogger today that is ready to share some of his own thoughts and feelings. I hope his blog provokes thoughtful conversation. -R
By, Jeff Bistline
I recently tweeted some thoughts on Twitter concerning my thoughts on the current state of Duran Duran. I changed my mind several times, reached out to friends, changed my mind again. I re-edited my writing (several times), and decided I still needed to communicate some of my thoughts, for my own sanity. The following is my “edited version”, or “PG version” which is far less speculative, but still contains quite a few opinions.
I have not lost faith in the band, I think they are at a crossroads, and we all know it has to happen sooner or later. So here it goes…
On Twitter, I recently “called my shot”, and proclaimed that I believe that Paper Gods is the last proper album and tour cycle for the band. The reason for my tweets were not to cause drama, gain followers, or throw shade at the band or management. I care very passionately for this band and its music. It has been a part of my life on a daily basis since 1984, and always will be. Above all, and most importantly, I know that we will always have the music of Duran Duran. In addition to following every note, lyric, and news item, I closely follow the music industry in great detail. I have made many observations that have been building in my head for over a year now, and I feel the need to share those observations in great detail.
These observations are heavily based on my opinion. I have no inside information directly from the band. I honestly don’t want the band the stop recording and touring, but I think the band, management, close confidants (Ronson/Rodgers, and perhaps Mr. Hudson), and Warner mapped out an a long-term exit plan a few years ago and they are in the middle of that process.
First of all, I love the Paper Gods album. I think “Pressure Off” was the best single since “Come Undone”. “Planet Roaring” is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time. I think the entire band put EVERYTHING into the making of this album. They did their research, started writing, consulted Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson, and returned to the studio to complete the recording while bringing in Mr. Hudson to add some current and fresh perspective, which has been a long-standing trait of every Duran Duran record. Fan reaction has been mixed. The band has stated that everyone loves the album, new fans are coming on board etc., but I have a hard time believing these statements. It is not their best work, but it is not their worst either. Overall, I think the Paper Gods album is a success, both on the charts and from an artistic viewpoint, given where the band is in this screwed up age in the music industry. However, I don’t think the band wants to go through this cycle again without much to show for it in terms of physical units sold, or chart success (outside of the initial debut of the album on charts which basically lasted one week). Simon stating that “Pressure Off” was their most successful single in two decades is pure management spin. It didn’t make a dent on significant sales or radio airplay charts. In contrast, even “Leave A Light On” charted on radio playlists in the U.S.
The Paper Gods tour has been a huge success to date. The strategy that was implemented to tour Paper Gods had been brilliant up until July 2016. The band, management, record label, and promoters put together a billing that was amazing considering that Duran Duran has not been a full size arena/stadium level touring band since perhaps the reunion and Astronaut era in 2003-2006. Having Nile Rodgers and Chic on tour made sense, and the billing produced some fantastic shows and crowds. Most shows I saw ranged between 7,000 to 15,000 people. Extraordinary support for a legacy band, in my opinion.
A pivotal turning point came in July 2016 when it was announced that Nick Rhodes would be leaving the tour for a short period. There has been nonstop speculation as to the reasons for Nick’s leave of absence, and nothing has been released or leaked relating to his situation. First and foremost, I hope Nick (and/or his family) are physically and mentally well. I prefer to focus on the collective unit/band Duran Duran, but Nick is truly the cornerstone and visionary of Duran Duran, and always has been. Nick and Simon have been the two constants over the past 36 years. I cannot imagine Duran Duran existing without either of these two individuals. I don’t know if there is strife in the band. I thought maybe there was when I was doing some research on this, but I listened to a few interviews, read some articles, and I honestly think things are fine between the band members. However, Nick’s absence has certainly had a ripple effect in the fan community. I don’t think Nick enjoys touring as much as Simon and John. I think Roger still enjoys both recording and touring.
Here are some observations I have collected (in one place) that have bothered me over the past 14 months (and years in some instances). These are things that just seem “out of place” compared to previous album and tour cycles. I originally planned to speak on each one of these points at great length…Perhaps this community can discuss these points in greater detail. Obviously some of these thoughts are not my own, but have come from threads posted on message boards, Twitter, Facebook, and other sources.
Paper Gods Album
Several fans wondered if the lyrics in the “The Universe Alone” was a goodbye statement. “Planet Roaring” can also be viewed as an exit song, but more on the celebratory side. There could also be some lyrical clues in “Pressure Off”, and perhaps the most debated song on the album “Last Night in the City”.
Paper Gods Artwork
The symbols are obviously self-referencing, but why on a new album of new, modern music? I think the band said it was a conglomeration of images that have collectively “gotten us to this point of time”, but it could also certainly be seen as a final package.
Paper Gods Ancillary Releases
First of all, as a collector…WTF? We were told we would get a deluxe package. I’m still waiting. I’ve exhausted this avenue several times online. I have two additional comments to make. DJ’s are celebrities these days, both in the clubs and on the charts. They demand huge dollars these days. The unreleased Night Version of “Pressure Off” was probably done in-house (Spike Stent, Josh Blair maybe?). The “Last Night in the City” mixes were done by lessor known DJ’s. I’m sure the band and management is unwilling to invest much into remixes and ultimately additional single releases at this point in their career as the return is probably pretty small these days since people are buying less and less physical releases.
Paper Gods Music Videos
There was such a delay in releasing both of these from when the initial single was released, etc. The “Last Night in the City” video was filmed 6 months before it was finally released. Director Nick Egan even commented on a fan’s Facebook page that he was not pleased with the process and the end result.
Record Store Day
The vinyl industry has had a huge resurgence in the past 2 years. Why hasn’t Duran been participating in this event for 3-4 years now? Again, this probably relates to production costs, ROI (Return On Investment), and effort.
Duran Duran Appreciation Day
We previously received some unreleased music for this day. Now, we get a video performance of something that pretty much existed already. Again, few resources are being spent to deliver a unique remix, live set, etc.
Paper Gods Tour
I live in the United States. I’ve been very happy that I have seen the band on four legs of tours since the album released (counting the upcoming New Years Eve shows). The band or management has decided to only tour the three largest Duran fan base territories: U.S., U.K, and Italy. Europe was told they would get a tour, but Nick’s situation may have delayed or shelved that tour. There were rumors of a billing with Pet Shop Boys for Australia this fall. There have been mumblings of a tour for South America for 2017. No dates have been released. I listened to John’s Katy Kafe from July…I sincerely feel that he wants to further the Paper Gods tour into next year and different markets. Nick’s situation, or management, may have delayed or shelved these plans as well, since tours are announced several months in advance.
New Year’s Eve Shows
Who wouldn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve with Duran Duran? I’m going, but there is no denying it…these are two $$$Payday$$$ shows. Big bucks at a fancy new casino resort. I believe the fans deserve to know if Nick is playing or not. In July, we were told his absence was going to be “short”. This has caused a firestorm within the community. Again, I have no idea what is going on, and I hope he is well, but I think fans deserve at least a heads up on his presence for these über-expensive shows. The 1/1/2017 date doesn’t appear to be selling that well. You can view available tickets on Ticketmaster. There are also several seats available for 12/31/2016. I think both of these are sell outs if Nick’s presence is confirmed. I think fans are very skeptical on these shows at the moment.
Access to the band has been very limited during this album cycle. There are no longer meet and greets as part of the VIP packages. John has left social media, and I don’t blame him based on the horrific berating his accounts received. I wonder if this incident alone has reduced the opportunity for meet and greets, etc. We rarely get Ask Katy questions on the website, and they don’t seem as interesting as they did during and between previous album cycles.The Move to Warner
I think Duran like the status of being on a big label. They were on big labels during their heyday. I have no idea how much Warner plays into the decisions of releases, touring, the band, and management. I’m sure they wanted access to the back catalog more than anything. At the time of the press release, John stated “We are also excited that this deal means we will be reunited with our catalogue after years apart – and in that sense it really feels a little like coming home.”
This has been debated to death. I do think the band could put some more effort into this. The current stage production doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility. I believe this current setlist was developed with the casual fan in mind. It was a high energy setlist, set to the backbone of their greatest hits. I enjoyed every show that I went to, but would have preferred a few changes here and there. I think the band has settled into this formula to keep the most people happy, again tailored towards the casual fan.
She certainly has caused a divide within the fan base. Specifically, some people did not care for her using the “askkaty” moniker on her personal twitter. It finally got changed and it appears to be 100% personal now. I believe this should have happened a lot sooner, and I don’t think Simon needed to interject, but again, there is a divide there.
Current Management/Magus Entertainment
I have no problem with the band wanting to bank some buck. Don’t we all? However, the hard-core fan and collector is not being treated like we deserve, many of those points I highlighted already above. The current management is on a mission to maximize earning potential, and give the casual fan a great night of entertainment. The bundling of the Paper Gods CD with the tickets was an artificial attempt to bloat album sales numbers (it actually reentered the charts in the U.S.) and get the album into the hands of the casual fan. I have an extra ten copies of the standard album, and I’m sure other fans can say the same thing. This bundling practice also increases the concert tickets as I believe that some document has to be filed/exist for these units to count towards album sales and charts.
What is Nick doing?
Is he working on anything Duran related? That’s the million dollar question at this point. Are the other band members upset while they are still out on the road? We all know Nick loves art, curating, cataloging, organizing, making lists. Some friends have been wondering if he is working on some anthology type project, something that he probably couldn’t do from the road. Hmmmm. Seems very possible to me. I’m sure he’s doing some work while on break.
SOOOOO, where does this leave us?
I think Paper Gods is the last album. I think that touring Paper Gods will be completed with the Cancun, and New Year’s shows. Heck, they may have already turned in the equipment, video screens, etc. to the lighting and video companies and plan on showing up to these shows with basic equipment from local companies. 2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the start of the band. I think we will see a large-scale, worldwide greatest hits/farewell tour, and a greatest hits package or anthology type project to commemorate their fabulous career. After that, who knows? Whatever, it seems like a great stopping point to me if I were in the band.
I’ll be supporting Duran Duran until I die, whatever happens, I’m in it until the end. It’s time for me to go back to enjoying Duran Duran for the reason I started listening to them in the first place. The music.
Cheers y’all, and Duran On!
Jeff Bistline has been a dedicated Duranie since 1984. His passions in life are his Duran Duran collection, college basketball, and his boxer dog, Vivi. He is an accountant and lives in Nebraska.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!