Over the past year or so, a pall has been cast over the Duran Duran fan community. Two valuable resources for sharing bootlegs, rare recordings and remixes were abruptly shut down. The first to go was Klaus’ site at www.duranduran.no, and this past weekend, all posts in the Music Room at MarkUK’s www.duranduranproboards.com were removed. Both were vast compendiums of knowledge, history, and musical innovation, noble efforts of the people who tirelessly maintained the sites as well as the countless fans who generously shared their collections with others who appreciated them.
These sites did not cater to piracy or counterfeiting of any kind. I know that MarkUK’s board is moderated very well and did not allow posting of any upload links for material that has been commercially released. It’s been a while since Klaus’ site was removed (and he’s not talking due to a rather fearsome gag order placed on him by the band) but I don’t recall that any official releases were posted there either. Regardless, all of the Duran Duran’s material is covered by copyright, whether officially released or not. My point here is not to argue the valid legal grounds.
What I am going to argue is that by continuing to shut down communities such as these, Duran Duran are deluding themselves and needlessly punishing their fans in the process. The sharing of live and rare recordings between fans is far more beneficial to an artist than it could ever be of harm. Without a doubt, bootlegs fuel an interest and excitement about the music which results in more sales of the legitimate product, and cries of lost revenue caused by the sharing of bootlegs are irrelevant when the label has no intention or interest in releasing the material.
I’m willing to bet the farm that the same people who download Duran Duran bootlegs have also purchased every one of their officially released recordings. These sites were not for people looking to save a few bucks by downloading something illegally. They were for the dwindling number of hardcore fans of Duran Duran, the deeply devoted few who continue to earnestly line the pockets of the record label executives and to a lesser extent, the band themselves.
My hard drive is chock-full of Duran Duran bootlegs, each one a treasure and beloved for it’s own unique qualities. My adoration of the band grows deeper with every listen. The recordings are full of nuance and memories, whether collective or my own. Sharing them with others opens up new avenues of conversation, discussing thoughts and ideas about the music that might otherwise never come to light. The music may belong to the band, but the experience belongs to the fans… and Duran Duran are stupidly trying to take that away from us.
This is merely another example of Duran Duran sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring the sweeping changes that the Internet has brought to the music industry and blindly refusing to utilize the limitless promotional power of genuine interaction and fan-generated content. Not satisfied to simply shut down bastions of fan interaction, Duran Duran is unwilling to competently manage their own official fan site, which is rife with trolls and devoid of even mildly interesting official content. One could also mention how the band sheepishly stands mute when EMI screws up their remasters and posts a press release which clearly insults the intelligence of their fan base.
Meanwhile, successful artists like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails are embracing the new music business attitude, communicating directly with fans, treating them with respect and providing them with a reason to consume their music and come to their shows. Compare this with Duran Duran’s ego-boosting power trips and fear-mongering and one has to wonder how long this band can survive the swiftly changing tides.
Brace yourselves, because this is going to hurt: Duran Duran’s last album, Red Carpet Massacre, has sold less than 100,000 copies in the US and UK combined, even as they still sit on shelves at $3.99. These alarming figures show that pretty much the only people who bought the album were hard-core fans, the very same people that Duran Duran is punishing by shutting down their dwindling sites of devotion. Biting the hand that feeds you is not a smart move prior to the release of another album with yet another expensive producer and no record label to offer promotion.
This is not a case of Duran Duran’s management being asleep at the wheel… Magus Entertainment is driving the car off of the cliff. If they continue to treat fans like impudent teenagers, it’s going to be tough to salvage what is left of this relationship. At what point will we unite to find our voice and tell the emperor that he wears no clothes? There’s too much at stake to not consider some tough love, and time is running out.
Andy Taylor talks with Gimme a Wristband about the mystery of the ‘First US Gig’ tape
Andy Taylor, original guitarist of Duran Duran, found an old cassette tape in his basement yesterday. The tape was labeled as a recording of the first Duran Duran show in the United States in 1981 at a small club in Long Island, NY. Being the cool guy that he is, he immediately decided share it with the world by transferring the tape to digital and streaming it via the internet. Word spread quickly as Andy himself chatted about it on Facebook, and multitudes of fans waited eagerly at their computers, pressing play as soon as the link was posted.
The problem is, it was not a recording of the first US Duran Duran gig. Fans quickly recognized it without a doubt as the Hammersmith Odeon show from December 17, 1981 which was filmed and aired shortly thereafter by the BBC and released in March, 2010 by the EMI as a digital download.
While fans were all heaping richly deserved praise and thanks upon Andy, many were thoroughly confused. Posts on the Duran Duran Message Board by folks far more knowledgeable about the music than I am quickly confirmed my suspicions that something was terribly amiss. As much as it pained me to do so, I suggested to Andy that perhaps there had been a mistake.
To my surprise, I received an email from Andy, who was generously willing to indulge my curiosity about what the hell just happened. After his initial doubts and a bit of discussion back and forth, we finally came to an agreement that yes, the tape that he found and posted yesterday and the aforementioned Hammersmith show are indeed one and the same.
Once we were on the same page, I laid out the following chain of events: “From my perspective, it seems that back in 2005, [name redacted] gave you a cassette which she told you that she recorded herself of the infamous gig in Long Island. The tape remained tucked away until yesterday, when you generously decided to share the recording with fans, a noble gesture that does not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the tape was actually that of a bootleg vinyl that had been circulating since 1982 called “Live at Odeon.” In March of this year, it was released as a digital download by the not-so-beloved EMI as “BBC In Concert: Hammersmith Odeon 17th December 1981.”
Following is Andy’s unedited response. I’ve chosen to include the full text simply because the fangirl in me finds it so brilliant and charming. I can’t help myself… but if you’ve been reading this blog, you already knew that.
No probs, I very much appreciate the info & the evolving mystery…
Well at least for sure we know it was a bootleg…
There are a couple of technical details I noticed. On Planet Earth, the single version I posted last night, I don’t use the guitar synth… However, I did use it at Hammersmith on both the 81′ shows, but did not take it for the 81′ Autumn US tour because it was a lot of hassle to use. So the recording may be “cobbled” from more than 1 show.
Additionally, I can’t hear any vinyl noise, which could suggest the recording I have came directly from a mixing board, certainly the balance of sound is that of a direct board feed…
But when I analysed the audio files, the stereo image was badly imbalanced which I had to correct, which suggests it may have been made from a portable device from JT’s side of the stage…
For sure its not a multi-track recording…
I can’t recall if we played any unreleased material from Rio in Dec 81′ but that would have been possible as we often did that, but it could not have been June 81′ as there was no new Rio material at that time.
The further twist in the tale is very interesting, if it was a bootleg that EMI subsequently released as a legitimate recording, then that’s very odd & therefore [as I do accept the genuine nature of the facts you are presenting] we have all been deceived, mine was I hope just an innocent mistake, but EMI may have more to answer for…
Maybe the good news is that you have exposed EMI for releasing what was essentially a bootleg they acquired the rights to… And that is not a very cool thing at all.
Incidentally, the girl who gave it to me I don’t think claimed she made the tape rather that she bought it as a DD live @ The Spit bootleg, so she hasn’t acted with any malice, whereas EMI!!!
I have to hand it to you, you have been very dilligent in your work.
PS… Let me know if you need to clarify any further stuff…
There’s much fodder for discussion here. In light of the ongoing EMI fiasco, I look forward to conversation about the questions Andy has raised, most interestingly the one added in a mail that quickly followed: “If we assume that the tape is from Dec 81′ & the BBC recorded that show, then one has to pose the question, who stole the original BBC recording & turned it into a bootleg in 1982?”
In closing, I would like to remind my gentle readers that I am not a music expert and would never claim to be such. It’s merely by accident that my passion for writing has collided with my obsession with Duran Duran. It is the fans of this band who are diligent with their research, vigorous in their discussion, and unselfish in their willingness to share knowledge. Andy Taylor’s refreshing engagement with fans regarding the recent EMI fiasco and his offers to generously share his music and memories not only show respect for the Duran Duran community, but also that we as fans do have a voice and the ability to make things happen. It really is true… “Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow.”Tags: Andy Taylor, bootlegs, Duran Duran, EMI