The Things We Do To Be Together

I have been thinking a lot about creation lately.  No, I’m not talking about creation vs. evolution but about how people go about creating something.  Obviously, I have thought about the band creating the album or my mom creating a new fiber art piece.  I have even been thinking about how Rhonda and I created this…whatever…you want to call it.  (Blog seems too simple, doesn’t it?!)  In the midst of my thinking, I discovered that sometimes, most of the times, the artist doesn’t really know what is going to be created before it has been worked on for quite some time.  I admit that I feel that way about this…company, partnership, blog, whatever.  When we started, our focus was simply to help us write our book on fandom.  It was an attempt to not only observe fandom in action but to also write about it, to put ideas/reactions/thoughts into words in an informal setting.  Initially, that seemed like a good goal.  Very quickly, though, we realized that we were doing a lot more than observing and reacting.  We were taking part, creating action.

What action were we creating or focusing upon?  I didn’t know for a long time.  Both Rhonda and myself could see that there were problems or areas of our fandom that could be improved.  We felt very strongly that we weren’t going to just complain but to offer solutions.  One area that we thought could use some improvement was the lack of community feeling–many fans were completely isolated.  Others had just a friend or two or, maybe, a small group.  Yet, there wasn’t enough intermingling.  There wasn’t a strong community spirit.  At times, a Duranie community feeling would pop up, but not enough to be sustained.  Why does that matter?  Simple.  The more community feeling, the better the experiences for fans.  Fans are far happier when they are hanging with other fans.  This translates to staying in the fandom longer and even bringing in new people.  Therefore, Rhonda and I brainstormed and continue to brainstorm means of creating greater community feeling.  We have attempted to reach this in a variety of ways, including blog posts, through social media and through in person activities.  In addition to planning and holding a fan convention, we also have held numerous meet ups, mostly around tours!

Our planned meet ups have happened in a lot of different places from London, England, to Hollywood, California, and everywhere in between, including Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and more.  We have found that at each and every meet up, the fans who show up have a great time meeting other fans or seeing other fans whom they haven’t seen in a long time.  Usually, lots of stories are shared as well as conversation, such as what songs people hope that the band plays at the show.  There is almost always discussion about where people are sitting in the hopes of sitting near new friends and connections!  In almost every case I can think of, these meet ups do more than just facilitate new connections and friendships but they get people super excited for the show, which translates to more energy at the show, which the band can feed off of.  It is a win-win!

Over these last 5 years, we have begun to notice a bit of a pattern.  We have had more and more requests for meet ups.  What do I mean by that?  I’ll explain with a few examples.  For this last tour, people contacted us and asked if we were having meet ups in _________________ (insert various city here).  Even after this mini-tour, we have been asked questions like, “When Duran tours in ________________ (insert another city) in 2016, will you be holding a meet up then?  I really want to go to one of your meet ups!”  Obviously, we are flattered by these requests.  More importantly, to us, though, is the confirmation that people actually enjoy and look forward to them!  When we probe these requests further, people always tell us that they really want to meet other Duranies.  This tells us that community matters.  It matters to Duranies and it is something that we all want.  We are happy if our meet ups give this to other fans.  We certainly have benefitted ourselves by meeting LOTS of great fans this way!

What does this mean for the future?  Simple.  It means that we will do as many meet ups as we can.  Obviously, they take time and effort to set up, to let people know, etc., but we definitely see that people enjoy them and that they get something from attending.  Once we know tour dates (assuming that there will be more), we will try to get meet ups scheduled for the show(s) we are able to do.  So, watch this space!

-A

 

3 thoughts on “The Things We Do To Be Together”

    1. That pretty much sums up the entire journey thus far, Heather. 😉 I can’t even imagine what will come next. LOL -R

  1. It’s not just that we’re asked to do meet-ups, either…. it’s that people want Amanda and I in attendance, which is incredibly kind, if not extremely surprising! I’ve offered to more than a few people who have kindly requested that we go to shows in the UK or New York or even Pennsylvania this summer that while we couldn’t be there (traveling is expensive and nobody is paying our way, unless someone wants to do a Kickstarter for us!), we would be happy to post information about a meet-up for them. In every single case I was told that it wouldn’t be the same without Amanda and I there.

    If I could get away with going to more shows and cultivating more community between fans – I absolutely would. The value in doing so (for the band) would be demonstrated in a much higher amount of ticket sales, a much larger group of fans who travel to shows, etc. I know this because I’ve seen it. When we are able to give information about a particular show or something early on, and announce a meet-up or pre-show party, people start seeing it as a “destination” show, and make plans to go – I can point to shows such as Durham, North Carolina in 2012 as a perfect example. It becomes like a reunion for fans…and anyone who doesn’t see the dollars and cents point(s) in making that happen obviously hasn’t taken many business or marketing classes in their lifetime. 80% of sales come from return customers. How do you keep those people coming back, particularly to shows because concerts aren’t always “easy” (as opposed to hitting “buy now” on iTunes?? It isn’t just by having great music, although that is certainly a huge part. Equally important (and quite honestly I can point to a few less-popular album tour cycles where it might be even MORE important) It’s by creating and cultivating a community. You have to create a place that people feel welcome and want to call home. This is something, that…with all due respect…the band AND their management do not quite know how to do all that well. So, instead of just complaining – because really what good does that do anyone?? Amanda and I decided to try to nurture that community aspect ourselves.

    This isn’t a case where fans already “get plenty of things” out of the band, and so why bother with more. Anyone who says that – and yes, I personally know of people who feel that way – is completely missing the point at hand. They don’t SEE what I see as a fan on this side, so here we are, trying to educate and point it out. Yes, there are lots of “opportunities”, ticket sales and special experiences to be had for those willing to pay, and that’s great for them. We don’t want to take away from that group. But what about the average fan? Someone who doesn’t necessarily have thousands to spend at one time, but still very much wants to feel like they’re taking a part in the process? In the FAMILY? That’s exactly the niche we’re addressing and trying to nurture and grow.
    -R

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