What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?

I happen to know a few fans who are very excited about the announcement of shows in South America for later this spring.  The fan community in South America is vibrant, loyal, and ready to show plenty of love for Duran Duran when they arrive.  These fans have sat and watched as plenty of other places in the world were able to celebrate the music they enjoy with the band that they love, and soon it will be their turn to host the band on their own continent.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for fans in other parts of the world.  Granted, I live in the United States, and as it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – we do get plenty of shows here.  No argument from me on that point.  I have no trouble maintaining my loyalty for the band because we do get plenty of attention from them, and when they tour, the only real questions are when they will be coming and how long they will be here.  In other places of the world, they begin with the question of whether or not they’ll be coming at all.

I’ve wondered if joining the paid fan community in places outside of the UK or US (and perhaps Europe) is even worth the money.  It’s well-known and understood that the community really offers very, very little in the way of “exclusives”, so the only value is in the presale tickets and the VIP packages that may be offered.  Sure, there is a fan forum on the website, Katy Kafe, and a handful of other things that can readily be found on YouTube, but aside from those things, there is very little use to being “in the club”.  It certainly does not feel exclusive, nor does it treat the members as though they are special to the band, which in this writers opinion is essential to the success of a pay-to-join fan community such as DDM.

This is why I was incredibly curious to see whether or not VIP packages, such as those that are regularly offered in both the US and UK, would be offered in South America.  There are fans from South America that have paid to be included in the fan community, so surely something would be in fact offered, yes?  Actually, no.  No there will not be VIP packages offered for those dates.  Aside from presale tickets, there is nothing “exclusive” or “special” being offered in countries that can rarely take advantage of any other wonderful item that is offered currently through DDM.  Honestly, this should be an outrage to those South American fans, if not the rest of us, because while nothing of the sort is being offered to them through their own fan community, one can almost bet local radio stations or the like will have contests and opportunities for other fans, who may or may not be nearly as loyal, will have the opportunity for meet and greets, early entry for the standing section at the front of the venue closest to the stage, among other things.  Is this really fair or an appropriate way to treat fans?

On one hand, I can see the point of DDM.  I am sure that while there are some fans from South America that populate the membership of DDM, it’s at least possible that they don’t quite match the number of those from the US or the UK.  In order to effectively offer VIP packages, they probably need to be able to give the promoter firm numbers that surpass what they can “promise”.  I can give DDM the benefit of the doubt on that count.  That said, I find it difficult to believe that there is no way they can offer early entry to fans who have (and will) buy tickets in the standing section closest to the stage.  I know bands with far, far less of a devoted following that are able to offer such things without much of a problem in South America as well as other parts of the world.

One really cannot argue that DDM was at least originally intended (or sold to them) to be a cash cow for the band, (whether or not they are actually seeing that money is beyond the scope of this particular blog) but that point comes through loud and clear.  There is little intention to make the fans feel as though they are part of a special group or that they are getting access to the band that the general public would not have.  Emphasis is on becoming a “VIP” member with very little offered for the additional cost in membership besides a few trinket type items at this point.  In most cases, if not all, meet and greets weren’t even offered on the US tour (the argument isn’t about whether or not meet and greets are worth the VIP ticket price here – that’s another issue for another blog), so I have to ask – what was the point beyond an inflated ticket price and a couple of merchandise offerings?  In the case of fans from other parts of the world besides the US and the UK, that cash cow point is in bold face type, since they can rarely take advantage of nearly anything else that the club has to offer.  Does membership really have any advantage?

I am sure that I will hear from at least one US fan that will gleefully tell me that they’ve been a DDM member since the very beginning because the presales are worth “the small price of membership”.  Sure, it’s not an astronomical cost to join DDM, but as long as people continue to pay – there is absolutely no motivation to change what members complain about on a daily basis.  Personally I feel that the DDM loyalty is completely misplaced.

Ultimately, the point of a paid fan community is getting lost in the translation, especially for those fans in places where VIP packages of any type aren’t even being offered.  If that were the only problem with DDM, it might be overlooked, but that is only the beginning.  Fans have been screaming of the obvious, glaring issues from its inception.  Surveys have been filled out and returned, with only very select and small problems being addressed and changed (and its important to note that the changes have not necessarily been in the best interest of the fans by any means).  In this day and age where Direct to Fan marketing is being heralded as the “new model” for the industry, I have to ask where the intelligence is in simply ignoring the requests of entire fan bases, such as the one in South America where fans are begging for their chance to enjoy a Duran Duran concert in VIP style.  At the very least – offer up some early entry for these loyal fans!

DDM has cited membership numbers, market demand and promoters as reasons behind the decisions to offer or not offer VIP packages.  Here is what I know for certain: if packages are not offered, and the “exclusivity” of being a fan club member doesn’t exist – membership numbers most definitely won’t rise on their own just due to a great album or a wonderful tour.   Try again, Duran Duran. The one very small sales tactic that Duran Duran and their management continue to forget is that sometimes in order to have GAIN, you actually have to GIVE.  Its simply not enough to put out a great record, announce some concert dates and sit back to wait.

-R

20 thoughts on “What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?”

  1. Nice post!~

    I'm 14 and still thinking about joining the fan club-but even when I went to the Newcastle date in December,I had a fourth row seat,and met them before the concert.Plus I've heard M&G are really expensive,when you can easily just wait outside a venue/hotel for them :3

  2. Everything you mention here is correct, Jessie. Fourth row for a show is really good – even if you're a member you can expect that unless you're buying VIP, you will get somewhere between 5th and 10th row for shows through the DDM presales. (you might get luckier than that, but in the US that has been my experience) VIP tickets usually include your concert ticket (rows 1-5) some “exclusive merchandise” and that's about it unless you are lucky enough to have a show where a Meet and Greet is offered. Not all shows offer that though, and even if they offer it – not every VIP ticket holder gets one. Typically you're entered into a “lottery”, and if they pick you – then you'd be sent backstage before the show with about 10 other fans and their guests to meet them for about 5 minutes. (give or take) In my experience with UK shows, you have just as good of a chance to meet them outside of a venue before or after the show. (not that I was that lucky, but it seems as though that's what most people do over there) You can do the conversion from US dollars to UK sterling – but here VIP packages are easily $250 and up, and usually it's closer to $300 or $350.

    As far as the fan club itself goes, there are some exclusive things on the website that might be worth it to you. There is a message board for members only and things like that, but I've found that I have a better time chatting with people on Twitter or Facebook. That said, not everyone is the same and maybe you'd like being on the board there – I will say though that I have a 15 year old, and I wouldn't want her on that message board just because not everyone is super nice, and I'd hate for her first fan experience to be negative. Just my opinion as a mom and a fan though! 😀 -R

  3. Hi girls,

    Awesome blog and post, btw. Actually, there's been an announcement that there will be a “fan club members” presale starting next week. THis is the first time such a thing will happen in South America, so nobody really knows what to expect. Not many people here are members of DDM, so I'm not sure how that will work out.

    Regarding fans here, since John mentioned they'd be touring South America in May, the excitement has been growing steadily, especially now that the date, venue and the dates to purchase tickets have been officially confirmed. I guess it's the case for all South American countries, but as far as Argentina is concerned, DD have a big and loyal following here, and we've been lucky because the band has noticed that and graced us with 3 shows between 2005 and 2008. Now there's a new show coming up and there's a chance of a 2nd show in Buenos Aires being added if the first show sells well (and it will).

    Patricia.

  4. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

    No, it's not worth being a member if you aren't in the US (North America maybe) or the UK (maybe Europe). There is clear preferential treatment given on a geographic basis.

    I don't think VIP is offered for Asia and Middle East either – I may be wrong. Can't remember seeing it advertised.

    Membership should be cheaper for people outside US and UK, or at least offer some exclusives. There is nothing.

    DDM is damaging to the global fan base. I also find the DD-Facebook to be somewhat biased too. They post a video for President's Day (a US holiday), but nothing for other areas. Hello, NZ and Japan – significant tragic anniversary dates coming up. No I doubt there'll be anything – after all there's no concerts to promote. It does not feel very genuine. I don't think these signals and gestures are intentionally divisive, maybe naive and ignorant. It sends a message of 'you don't matter'.

    There is little thought given to fans outside the US/UK in regards to cancelled tours etc (eg, South Africa, Paris, NZ, The Netherlands). No, but extra shows, video announcements and fuss are provided in the aforementioned places when dates are cancelled or postponed.

    Fans are not treated equally or fairly.

    If they were DDM would've also cracked down on the nationality bashing that does on on DDM (eg an image of an Australian flag being urinated on?).

    It's a shame.

  5. I read that regarding the fan members presale for South America. I suppose you can call that progress. Sort of.

    I have several friends who live in various parts of South America, and they tell me they have a huge fanbase there, but that it's very difficult to convince people to join a fan club, especially one you pay for, only to end up with no true benefit. I totally get that. Too bad the people at DDM aren't listening. They really should.

    The thing is, VIP packages are really only the very tip of the iceberg here. The whole point in having a fan community is to grow a loyal following, allow those people to socialize and make connections, and then use the power of that entire fan base to increase sales, visibility, and so on. The trouble is that Duran Duran continually misses the point on how to effectively utilize AND GROW their fan base. DDM is only one very large example of that, and the lack of VIP packages in various parts of the world is one symptom. Sure, the band is not necessarily to blame here – I know many will try to point that out – but at what point did they stop having control over their own destiny? -R

  6. Many will point out that its the money. Apparently in all of the world, money is only found in the US and UK, so the fan clubs are tailored to meet the needs of those countries. That just seems a bit dismissive to me, and there must be a better way to address the indeed GLOBAL fan base.

    As for Facebook, I'm not really sure what to say about what is posted there. I know that the band themselves clearly does not handle their facebook – and I have to assume that the person who does lives in the US. (and quite possibly on the west coast like me, but I can't be certain. It could be any number of people) I would agree that posting videos and things for some holidays and not others can get the band into hot water with some people. I am not especially fond of “politically correctness”, primarily because I believe that comes off as not being genuine either. I think a lot of these things would ultimately be forgiven or not noticed if other actions were taken to include people – perhaps the answer is to set up separate fan clubs for other global locations, so that way things could be devised that are more wholly inclusive for other areas of the world, and maybe the real problem is that they really just do not have a large fan base outside of the US and UK. I've said multiple times today though that if there really are no advantages to being a member of the fan club, it certainly isn't going to suddenly convince people to join – so the problem remains. -R

  7. I guess I am glad that I just really care about the music over anything else. Did I spend the money for the fan club, yes, but I doubt I'll renew it. Not worth it because I doubt I'd ever ante up the money to buy a VIP package. I'm happy as long as I can see the stage. I'm not taking photos, trying to video tape or meet the band. Though I'd love to have Roger's drumsticks, I'd rather keep the cash I'd have to spend to even be in the general area for a chance he'd notice me and grace me with them.

    Everything I've been reading about the slimy music industry points to this being par for the course. It's all about the stuffed shirts lining their pockets and right now Duran Duran still has star-struck fans willing to fork out the money in hopes of scoring big. As you said – as long as people are paying for nothing, why add anything to mix. ~Betsi

  8. And I see DD FB has posted an 'in honor of Mardi Gras'.

    Not sure it's about being PC (which would not look genuine as you say), I think the result of the 'US-centricness' (with a token nod to the UK) from all things DD is it's off putting to those who may want to join in. Gives the impression ' oh this is just for Americans'.

  9. Membership is $35. Hilarious that anyone would take the time to blog about one region (who probably doesn't have many members) ” not getting their money's worth”. I guess you are running out of things to moan about. Perhaps you could post a link to the 100's of upset South Americans on a message board who are begging to spend $$ on VIP? I haven't seen it.

  10. i think all paid for vip, “exclusive access” on gigs should be outlawed – it distorts reality – and only ends up going to the highest bidder in the end

    if you pay to join a fan club you should get privileges like early access to tickets, exclusive merchandise but cut off dates of eligible members should be *before* a tour is announced, new merch etc and not used to simply bolster and inflate membership

  11. @Anonymous who posted comment at 4:36 PM-Do you know what I find hilarious? People who come to our blog to criticize but do it as “anonymous”. While you might not think that South America is important, we like to think that all fans are. Of course, maybe, it is hard to get that if the only place you are getting your information from is a message board. The rest of us use multiple sources.

    -A

  12. While it might seem hilarious to you, it's rather important to the fans who are missing out. That's what we cover here on Daily Duranie. I'm sorry you didn't find the blog useful today, but then again – I was told once that I shouldn't worry how many people agree or disagree with me, because the fact is – there's always at least one person out there that typically does, and the rest just continue the conversation. By coming here and spouting whatever it was you thought you spouted, all you did was up our reader numbers for the day. So thanks! Cheers – send my best to your DDM buddies! -R

  13. Interesting thoughts…and I see where you're coming from here. I do feel that if it's going to be offered in other parts of the world, they should go to the extent to offer SOMETHING everywhere because otherwise you're doing exactly the opposite of what a fan community should be doing. Never quite understood the logic behind that, and I totally agree with you about the cut off dates for eligible members.

    Glad to see that this is starting a discussion, because that's entirely the point here. -R

  14. I completely agree, and I saw the post about Mardi Gras. It's a little embarrassing to be honest, because the band isn't even FROM here. At least it'd make a little more sense if they were announcing UK events (and hey, maybe I'd learn a little something about a holiday or two). I totally see where you're coming from on this one. -R

  15. I agree with all the points above, and would like to comment that my own experience the UK shows, out of 12 UK & Ireland shows I only got one ticket in the front row centre on VIP package, the rest of them I bought on Ebay or general sale. VIP is very expensive for the non guarantee of a front row seat, e.g. in the UK the 4 shows where there was a CHANCE to win meet & greet tickets were £325 each which is currently $512 for that price it didnt guarantee you a M&G or a front row ticket, so I never bothered at those venues. The comments I have heard about M&G is it is always the same people winning them, or at least has been in recent years, suggesting winners are not randomly chosen.

    As for DDM dont start me on that, I am a member purely for the benefit of pre sales and any exclusive gig info like the UK rehearsal shows. Other than that it really serves no purpose, they seem to make announcements on Facebook & DDM these days. In the old days of DDM, they had a thriving message board that seems to be dwindling now, as peole use twitter and facebook instead, and the bitching on there got so bad that other than the regular few people would be scared to post there. The Facebook & Twitter by them is I agree, biased. It is very clear DD have a US admin team, who seem to only post stuff about the USA. I remember last year, I was really annoyed that they were going on about specific American holidays, and like someone said above, the band are a British Band (and before people start not suggesting the UK own them, merely pointing out they do not even promote the bands own country), and I found it bizarre that they rarely acknowledge the UK. In fact, why even mention any of the holidays? Their purpose is to promote the band they seem to do very little of that. Recent example the show in Carcasonne, France was on the website of the french Venue for a week BEFORE any announcement came from DDM, and tickets even went on sale 2 days before they announced it. I thought the purpose of the Fan Club / DDM was to announce this stuff.

    Like someone said above, sadly the currently management / admin team who ultimately represent DD, is a bad reflection on the band, and sadly I do not think it will ever change unless the management changes. Years ago in the early 80s they had a problem with their fan club and the band went publicly on TV to announce they were sorry to the fans and resolved issue sacking all the staff and setting up a brand new club. That could work again, if only someone told the band what was going on!

  16. Hello girls

    This is one of your best blogs ever. Thanks you for saying what many of us wanted to say.

    As I read the comments, it was funny to come accross the “@Anonymus” one. First of all just let me say, no matter how many people from any part of the world are members of the community, opportunities should be the same for all members, wherever the band is playing their own shows. Otherwise, why pay a membership?

    Regular presale just isn´t enough.

  17. I am a member of the Fan Club, and this past year I did purchae VIP twice, for both times they played Toronto. While I am a long time member, I do question the value I'm getting. The stories we hear about Fan Club members who can't get good presale tickets, or even worse, can get better tickets through the public on sale shocks me every time. I have been fortunate in that I have always been able to get great seats through the fan club pre-sales, but as I usually go by myself, it is always easy to get 1 really good ticket.

    I loved the early access to the 1st Toronto show, as it resulted in literally front row centre, and I was lucky enough to get a pick from Dom and a stick from Roger (both firsts for me). I was disappointed there was no opportunity for a meet and greet (but I really think for the price we pay it should be more then just a lottery and there should be the opportunity for a guarenteed M&G), but also appreciated the signed CD. For the 2nd show later in the year, I'll be honest in saying “a regular, unsigned poster” didn't do it for me as far as VIP perks go. Again, I got great seats, but I know not everyone did. In both cases, the t-shirts are kind of cool, but not for the price paid.

    Put it all together, and I guess I'm saying that even though I am a member, and have had some great perks, I'll probably be the 1st to say I do wonder what I'm paying for. As far as the membership itself goes, I flat out admit I want to support the band of course, but I pay for the pre-sale access. I think it can be done a billion times better then it is, but that's why I am a member.

    The 2 VIP shows this year, worked out well for me, but again, I wonder what I paid for and do question the value. They were both “special treats” for me, but I know I won't always do it.

    As it has been pointed out before, I question who is running the show when it comes to the Fan Club and VIP packages. I appreciate the band itself may or may not be aware of all the difficulties, but if they don't know, my 1st question is “Why don't you know?” Other bands have proven time and again, that it is very simple to make sure your dedicated fans are taken care of. I think of Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam. I know Pearl Jam allocates the best tickets to shows based on how long people have been members of the Fan Club, and makes a point of telling the fans that it is OK to record and take pictures at the show. They even go as far to say who a fan can ask for at a venue if they encounter difficulties with this permission.

    Nine Inch Nails also made a point of specifically allowing recording and pictures at their farewell tour. I was a memebr of their fan club, and for a few years prior to that tour, we actually had our names printed directly on our fan club tickets to ensure as fan club members that we were the ones usuing them since they could only be picked up the dayof the show and we needed to show ID to get them. In both of these band examples, the cost was minimal and nowhere near exorbitant. NIN in fact acyually sold meet and greet packages, and I think they were under $200, plus it was a guarentee! I couldn't get one because of a conflcit, but in fact was able to get there earlier then expected (and could have bought one) and I was amazed to see the line of people that had purchased them. It was quite big, yet NIN happily met every single person that had paid, and graciously took pictures with them all.

    The point is this can all be done properly. he band needs to take charge. I love Duran Duran, and if they don't want to always do meet and greets, I can understand that. I'll always support these guys but I really wish they would step up and fix these issues. The Fan Club and VIP issues need to both be true VIP experiences.

    Jamie

  18. Coming late to this party, but I will comment as someone who has chosen not to join the DDM fan club to be able to VIP. And the primary reason, I haven't is what a lot of the others have cited. I'm just not convinced that it's worth it. If I am going to pay extra $$$, well then, I might as well go through a ticket agency at that point because I will know exactly what I am getting and not be left wondering am I or am I not going to get a good seat.

    I attended the show in Boston in October, and bought my tickets via pre-sale (not the DDM pre-sale, but the one through the venue which was before the general public sale). I was pretty happy with my seats. Disclaimer: I am fairly easy to please, and as long as I can see the stage, hear the music, and not have a pole or other obstruction in my face–anyone who has gone to the old Boston Garden or Fenway Park will know what I am talking about–I am happy.
    So while the seats were not in the front row or close to it, I was happy because I knew I had a pretty good view.

    But two weeks before the show, a whole block of what I can only guess were maybe promoter tickets were released several rows up from where I was (might have been around rows 7-8). I tried at both the box office and via Ticketmaster to see if I could exchange and it was no dice. I know the ticket said no refunds but figured it was worth a shot. The casino show I went to in April I was able to exchange for the better seats when they suddenly became available, because they were more expensive than what I had, and I was picking them up the day of the show.

    But I was left wondering, what is the point of a presale (any presale) if better seats become available right before the show? And you can't tell me that there weren't some fan club members who had bought seats which were in further back locations than those which became available right before the show. I know the day of seats suddenly appeared in the first 4 rows. I know I was pretty pissed that I had had tickets for two months and better seats suddenly popped up, I can only imagine what a fan club member would have felt under those circumstances!

    A friend of mine from high school went to the same concert solo and somehow he managed to snag a front row seat. He did not do any kind of presale, did not go through a ticket agency, did not buy the day of, just went through the normal online channels. Don't ask me how he did it. As I told my husband, being a fan for 25+ years and wallpapering your room with their picture while you were in HS apparently has zero bearing on how close you end up to the stage! Because if it did, I would have been the one who ended up with the front row seat! My friend is just a music lover/concert goer in general rather than a Duran Duran aficionado (though he loves 80s music). I consoled myself by saying, well, at least he was on Dom/Anna's side of the stage and not John's, which would have only added insult to injury! He did however, get some truly awesome photos that he graciously shared with me!

    Great great blog post for discussion! Kudos for writing it and putting this topic of discussion out there!

    -Susan-

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