Why hasn’t there been a Girl Panic?!

Let’s be honest: we are probably the easiest sales the band knows.  When they put out an album, they can guarantee – or at least seriously count on a certain amount of sales purely based on the hardcore fan base.  I really am not sure how big of a number that is at this point, but I know we exist out there somewhere!  It really makes no difference whether we love the album or hate it, most of us still buy at least one copy (and some of us will buy even more…) just to keep the collection pristine.  The band truly has to do very little to keep the core base going.  Sure, there have been times when the numbers have gone down or flattened out, but there still remains a base.  It’s somewhat counterintuitive to what many fans feel they deserve, because here I am admitting that the band has to do relatively little to keep our interest, and yet just a few weeks ago we were chatting about what we felt we deserved.  It’s a delicate balance between continuing a connection with long time fans, and striving for new.

Not long ago, I commented that Girl Panic (the video) really did not sell many additional songs or albums for the band.  This information is not made up on my part, it was straight from John Taylor’s mouth.  Currently the video is sitting at nearly 5.3 million views, a number the band themselves has characterized as “viral”.  Apparently that number has not translated well into additional sales, and it seemed – at least to me – that the band is at least somewhat confused as to why that is.  It’s the “new model”, some will say.

So the new model basically says that music is free to those who want to get it, and so if I’m understanding this all correctly – it’s really up to the band to convince everyone (except the hard core fan base, apparently) else WHY they should buy.  I dare say that most people don’t really care how EASY it is to purchase the song or album, and most people don’t really care about how many different places you can buy it, how many versions there are available, or how many different forms the album comes in. (mp3, iTunes mp4, vinyl, CD, etc.)  It seems to me that most people, other than me and perhaps the others reading this blog, want to know why they should part with their good money to own the album.  Why should they care?

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to Duran Duran.  It applies to every single band or artist out there – and some artists are hitting the mark, and some are not.  Some artists and bands are blessed with HUGE fan bases that buy everything they sell.  The work to keep those fans just might not be as tough – but to be fair – there are remarkably few of those bands out there. The overwhelming majority have to work very hard to show people why they are worthy.

How do they create that interest?  Well to begin with – it’s the music.  That’s not enough though, and that is just not where the story ends.  It’s merely the beginning.  One of my favorite quotes these days is from Ian Rogers, who is the CEO of TopSpin (a Direct-To-Fan Marketing company).  “This is not a world where you can simply record an excellent song and expect people will naturally discover and go crazy for it.  This is not a build-it-and-they-will-come world.”  I just don’t think there’s a better example of this out there than Duran Duran.  Some might say they aren’t consistent with their music.  Ok sure, some albums haven’t sold well (All You Need is Now is in that category, mind you!)  and might not be what *I* would prefer, but by and large – they’ve got a great catalog, historically speaking.  All You Need is Now is probably one of their best albums ever and is truly worthy of sales 10 or 15 times more than what they’ve seen thus far.  The problem though, is that for whatever reason, the band doesn’t reach people.  Yes, they have truly paved the way for a relationship with their existing fans.  The trouble is, we are really not the people they need to sell on their music.  We’re already sold!!

So, real goal is sharing the “why”.  It’s forging an interest from the people that don’t already know and love them, and it’s learning to balance that newly formed relationship with the ones that already exist.  Not an easy line to walk.  Long time fans aren’t necessarily excited by “new ways”.  Change is an awful thing when you’re in your forties I guess. I remember the uproar when they began the paid fan community – and I can’t really imagine what fans would do if they started a crowdfunding campaign for their next album or tour (see andytaylor.tv for a great blog on Crowdfunding by our friend and fellow fan, Bryony Evens!)

A great article to further explain my point and introduce some others can be found here.

-R

5 thoughts on “Why hasn’t there been a Girl Panic?!”

  1. I do think it's the age in which we live. People who aren't necessarily already a big enough fan of a band to follow them on social media or at least look up their website may never hear the CD, or any singles off a CD, or even know there is a new CD.

    Surely I'm not the only person who doesn't listen to the radio – I plug my iPod in and go. I don't watch MTV or VH1, so if someone doesn't tell me that Joe Blow has a new single out, and i don't happen to see it on iTunes when I log in, I'll probably miss it.

    It seems marketing has come full circle… ironically, so. The more ways there are to communicate, the more we tend to tune out. It's just too much information and our finite minds can't handle it all. We may not even realize we're blocking… but I know I do it. We're so bombarded with advertisements we've subconsciously learned to ignore them.

    I think there's also the mentality of not buying the whole CD when you can buy just the songs you like, too. I'm very guilty of that with bands or other musicians of which I'm not a huge fan. I've been properly chastised about my incomplete Duran catalog. 😉

    And then there's the economy. Maybe some fans just can't justify spending money on something they can get free. Many people have trimmed their “fun money.”

    I think I'd LMAO if Duran Duran tried to pull a crowdfunding gig off, unless there was something spectacular in it for those who contributed!! (Oh, who am I kidding, I'd at least buy in for the minimum just because I wouldn't be able to stand not being a part of it.)

  2. What you say is true, Betsi. The issue in this case though is getting sales beyond the fan base. I'm already taking into account that most FANS have already bought the album or even just a song or two. The question then becomes how to get past those numbers and reach new fans.

    As for crowdfunding – it's the wave of the future. There isn't a single day that has gone by that I haven't gotten at least one article, and more likely several, in my inbox with regard to the subject. It's really the natural evolution for fan communities, believe it or not. I can't say whether or not Duran Duran would find reason to embrace the idea, but overall it's working smarter than having a paid fan community by far. At least in the case of crowdfunding they would fund an album before recording it, therefore the sales of said album being a bonus. The same could be said for touring. It's how many, many bands are starting to see a profit again. Again, I can't say that Duran Duran would find use for that. It's not just about giving money away to a band (although that is done), it's having different “perks” available for different funding levels, which isn't completely unlike the paid fan community – except that fans would actually see where their money is going.

    In the end, the one constant I am finding is that bands are having to consider new ways to reach fans, whether those fans are within their current fan base, or new ones altogether. Just putting out an album doesn't work. Having 50 ways to buy that album doesn't work. The back story, the emotional connection, selling the “why” – those are things that seem to be working for a lot of bands out there.

    I'm sure to be reminded by my writing partner that perhaps the band is happy with what they have. I wouldn't know. I think it IS surprising to anyone who is paying attention though that the numbers just do not translate the way they once did, and it's worth considering the reasons behind that, even as fans. -R

  3. Rhonda,
    this is a fascinating topic. The fact is that Duran Duran don't sell record the way it should be. I don't think the problem is the music, they are as good as ever. But yeah the time we live in is not that good for that activity. When I was a kid radio was the way to go and we listen the hits there. There wasn't as many production at that time too. So the good ones were stars. Now there is so many different styles and records that it's hard to know everything. When I was a young adult the video came. And that was the way to go. DD win that battle. We were all there watching our tv each week to see the new production. But now? Radio isn't that good because people prefer Ipod. Video aren't that popular. I don't know how it is in USA, here in Quebec Canada, there was a great station for videos. Now in days they have many stupid reality shows more than music clip. So? What is the way to go? Groups that are still huge like U2 or artist like Madonna. I don't know how many records they sale, but they seem to be huge. I don't understand that. Madonna did great things but at the same time the sad truth is that most of the time she don't even sing in shows. Of course you can put the Cirque du Soleil close to the singer to bring interest. But is that a good idea? i would prefer to go to see a show of the Cirque du Soleil (from here by the way) than see Madonna playing Top of the Pops. We have a huge festival here each summer and super artist and group came. Last year (or was it the year before???) Ramstein came. People were fascinated by the show. Obviuosly almost nobody understand the very horrible things they were singing, if we can call that singing… But the visual show apparently was more than spectacular. I think it could be the way to go. Deliver a spectacular show visualy. The kind of thing everybody want to see. You have to drain attention. I don,t want to see Simon coming on the scene in fire mmmm but a super visual show with projection, mobile elements huge light system. Back in 2000 DD try a special effect of 3D projection called augmented reality.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG9g4qz9yoA

    Maybe they should do it again and with the technology progress this could be the show to see. There is one way only they can regain fame is by being spectacular. Maybe something like that is what they should try. This year the visual wasn,t bad but not spectacular. The lights moved one time only at the midway of Before the Rain and that was it. During the RCM tour it was almost pathetic, nothing visual. Back in the reunion tour this was way better. In the past they had great shows the Big Thing tour was funny conceptual especialy with the chorist playing with rubbons and playind shadow. Not spectacular but cool. Arena was very nice. And oh! They were famous back then… Coincidence? Maybe, they had all back then, radio, videos and spectacular shows.

    Pat

  4. The reason I said I'd LMAO is because Duran management would find a way to screw it up. They'd need forward-thinkers like you, Amanda, Kitty and Bryony running it. Getting rid of the paid fan club for this would be a bonus – if run correctly. I could definitely go for that.

    How does crowdfunding reach new potential fans? Social media blitz? People sharing links and such on FB and T? Youtube? It's definitely interesting.

  5. I think part of the problem with U2 and Madonna is that at least here in the US – they had fanbases that DWARFED what Duran Duran ever had. Both of them toured in the 80's doing shows in stadiums, yet Duran Duran really did not. They might have had the odd stadium show in places, but it wasn't a regular thing here in the states. My point being that as our fan base has dwindled with age, I'm sure Madonna & U2's has as well, but because they were so much larger to begin with….do you see what I mean? I don't think the same rules of sales apply to Madonna or U2 (although truthfully I have no idea how Madonna's newest album is doing, or what her prior albums did) – and I think they make far more off of their tours than DD probably does. I think everyone has struggled to a certain extent with the economy and with the industry just changing, but to what extent I really am not sure. I wish we had someone in the community that would know because that would be an excellent interview to have on the blog! 🙂

    As far as a visual stunning production goes – I think all of that must take money, and yes – they had a bigger budget back in the day, didn't they?! 😀 I also think there's a balance that needs to take place between all of that production and the music at hand. I know that Amanda and I both commented to one another that it was very difficult to take our eyes off of the band in order to watch the screens behind them during the shows in the UK – so we missed a lot of what was going on back there. It's just difficult to take all of it in. (good reason to go to more than one show!) A band like Rammstein (and I use the word “band” lightly…) has a different goal in mind for their shows. They aren't really very captivating musically, but the production is outstanding – and I think it's sort of to hide their weaknesses. Duran doesn't really need to do that in their live shows.

    Radio and MTV sold records back in the day. I think that right now there is a gigantic learning curve taking place where everyone is trying to figure out how to get people to part with their money to buy music. The trouble today is that you can get EVERYTHING online, and if you're being dishonest – you can get it for free. Nobody wants to pay, and nobody wants to deal with digital rights management, 50 retailer “exclusive” versions, and crap like that. It's annoying and enough to drive anyone to say “forget it, I'll just download it from a pirating site, or just listen to it on Spotify.” I think it's very hard to know what the magic formula is for sales – the quality of the music just isn't enough, and yet nobody seems to know what works. I do take pity on the band for that to some extent, because with all the reading I've done, I don't think anyone out there really has any more of the answer now than they did 5 years ago. Everyone seems to be grabbing at straws and coming up short. -R

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