Because there was a lot of discussion about the recent release of "The Guitar Man sessions" and the announcement of "The Wonder of You" as upcoming European single, we decided to do an on-line poll to find out what the average Elvis' fan thinks about these subjects. We also included some questions about the ongoing complaints regarding lack of acknowledgement for Elvis, either by BMG, his record company, or (and) the RIAA, which doesn't seem to be able to count all of Elvis' sales correctly.
The response on the poll was pretty good; with nearly 400 responses we think we are able to sketch an image of the "average" Elvis-fan's opinion. All comments in the open questions together lead to an impressive 154-page document. Obviously the contributors took their time to answer our questions. We want to thank all of them, who took the time to answer the questions. Wilma, Karel and Stephan are the lucky ones that won our drawing. The CD's are on their way. These results from our poll will be sent to BMG and Elvis Presley Enterprises too.
Type of fans
In our poll we roughly drew a line between "conservative" fans and "progressive" fans, in other words: between disliking and liking reproductions of Elvis' work. When asked about their "camp" 51% of the respondents regarded themselves as progressive. Apparently the Elvis' fans are spread out well over the two camps.
Guitar Man Sessions
The so-called "Guitar Man sessions" were released as "Too Much Monkey Business" on the FTD-label. 86% of the fans are familiar with those sessions. The average rating is 3.4 out of 5. Not surprisingly the rating for the "Guitar Man sessions" by the conservative fans is much lower (2.7) than by the progressive fans (4.0). Still 66% of the conservative fans would buy another release with redone Elvis-songs. In total, eight out of ten respondents would buy such a release.
Fig. 1 Rating "Guitar Man sessions"
In 1997 for the 20th anniversary of Elvis' death Lisa Marie Presley did a duet with her father on "Don't Cry Daddy". The song was never released officially, but thanks to the Internet and bootleg-recordings still 78% of the fans knows the performance, which is rated higher than the before mentioned "Guitar Man sessions" with a neat 4.0. Even the conservative fans can appreciate this version pretty well: they rated it with 3.7.
Fig. 2 Rating duet with Lisa Marie
Asked about the music of imaginable duets with Elvis Presley 24% weren't interested in such a project at all. Of the interested people two third wants to have new backing tracks too, and not only a vocal overdub by the additional artist(s).
Possible artists for such duets gave more diversity, 42 percent of the interested people like to see settled artists, who have about the same style, while the other part prefer today's stars. In the lists with names that were given by those two groups, surprisingly both Tom Jones and Lisa Marie score very well. A compliment for Tom Jones, because his recent success gained him acknowledgement for still being a star, but Lisa Marie appearing as either a settled artist or today's star looks a little strange. It seems Elvis' fans are loyal to his family too (even Priscilla was suggested once). The table below gives an overview of suggestions, divided in a column for people preferring "settled" artists, "today's artists" and an overall list. The table is presenting the names and the times they were mentioned. People that are going to calculate the totals will find out there is a difference, caused by the "not interested" people, which still gave some names.
Tom Jones 44
Lisa Marie Presley 21
Bruce Springsteen 11
Barbara Streisand 10
Paul Mccartney 10
Tom Jones 36
Robbie Williams 23
Lisa Marie Presley 22
Shania Twain 17
Tom Jones 92
Lisa Marie Presley 57
Bruce Springsteen 28
Shania Twain 25
Other artists who appear in the overall top 10: Robbie Williams, Bono, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. Not less than 84% of the fans would buy a duets-release. Conservative fans are more interested in a duets- CD too, 73% would buy it.
The choice for "The Wonder of You" as next single to promote TTWII SE in Europe is welcomed by 69% of the fans, while the remaining people preferred a rocker as single. Comments against this choice are merely based upon the fact that Elvis' best known songs might be the ballads ("Love Me Tender", "Can't Help Falling in Love"), while he was best at and became famous with Rock 'n' Roll. Also confirming the stereotyping of Elvis' 70's work, as white jumpsuit boy with dramatic vocals and big orchestra, is mentioned as con. Remarkable is the fact that a lot of arguments against "The Wonder of You", are used by others to defend it, e.g. "it was already a big hit, so everybody knows it" and "today's youth likes ballads more" (or up-tempo). Going through the list of comments it is clear that the minority took more time to defend their opinion, and took the time to suggest a lot of alternatives, of which "Polk Salad Annie", "Suspicious Minds" and even "Burning Love" or "Promised Land" were mentioned most often. Of course it doesn't make sense to use the latter two to promote TTWII. Preceding our next question a lot of people stated that whatever the choice is, promotion is needed.
A lot of fans were complaining about the release policy of BMG over the years. We tried to find out if this opinion changed lately. Ninety percent of the surveys gave an opinion about this matter. Not less than 74% think that the policy improved, coming from either bad (49%) or "so so" (25%). The remaining 16% is divided in two equal parts; one group thinks the release policy is still bad, while the other says it was always fine.
The open question gave, again, much diversity, and again the same issues were regarded to be positive and negative. Some people say the market is flooded too much, while others think that's a good point, because it keeps Elvis in the spotlight. That is, when the releases are promoted enough, again people couldn't save their opinion about (the lack of) promotion for the right question.
Overall people think things improved with the FTD-label, but it should be cheaper and documented better. Also most people like to see them available at more places. Some people don't like the exclusive, "members only" mark on the FTD-label. It seems that the releases are hard to get in some corners of the world; especially from Latin America we got quite some complaints. Several people suggested a kind of poll for the FTD-releases, preferable on-line, in which FTD gives a list of possibilities for the next release.
Most negative comments were made about the availability of the 70's material; either a second box set or sets per session, like "Suspicious Minds" are wanted. Although a lot of fans admit that not all work from the seventies is great, they want to have those tracks remastered well.
It will not be a real surprise, but only 4% of the fans think the promotion is fine. Not less than 66% think there is no promotion at all. About a fifth of the fans think BMG should focus more on either worldwide promotion (12%) or local promotion (7%). Elvis Presley is not the most mentioned name in the open question regarding promotion, but The Beatles are. Their recent "Number 1" CD is mentioned very often as an example of how promotion should be done. Also the lack of an official worldwide Elvis-site by BMG on the Internet and out of date local ones (www.elvis.de is mentioned as having the same design for over 3 years, without any updates) is regarded frustrating by a lot of fans. Another remark we saw mor