Let’s start this off with a question: If you have recorded an artist performing while attending a show, raise your virtual hands…don’t be shy, I’m guilty of this too. Everyone who’s attended a live music event has done it at some point or another. While personally I try not to, I end up caving when I’m in the moment and want to capture some of the magic to reflect upon later.
Maybe you’ve done it at a SPAC concert, or maybe you plan to do it when Jack White will be in town at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown this May.
But ah!! Not so fast.
Jack White, the rock legend, is joining a list of musical artists that are banning the use of cell phones while attending shows. According to AltRadio, White released a statement saying, “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while to experience music and our shared love of it in person.”
Well, this is a tough situation. How can you physically not bring a phone to an event like this? You’d lose your friends and have no idea how to get out of the parking lot without a GPS. And if you do bring the phone but can’t use it, how hard is it going be to not take it out even once during the show? I see both sides; there’s an argument for the artist and one for the concertgoer.
The keep the phone argument is: you paid damn good money to attend this show, so you should be able to do whatever you please while you’re there.
The put the phones away argument is: As a performer on stage, it is probably not that fun to see thousands of fans either with their phones up in the air or with their heads tilted down because they’re too busy trying to upload a video/picture up to their social media accounts while you’re doin’ your thing up there.
And for the fans, good luck trying to upload that photo in real-time anyway! Your phone’s battery will most likely die and the cell service at venues is awful because there are thousands of phones, emergency vehicles using signals, etc. in one confined area. Take the pics if you have to, but then put it away. You can post and reminisce later.
But why can’t I definitively pick a side? Because I am guilty. As I’m writing this I’m looking back through the shows that I’ve recorded, just clips from a song or two and you know what…I’m glad I did. I can still visually remember almost all the shows/games that I’ve been to, but having that picture or a short video makes it more worthwhile. There’s nothing like people sharing a good concert story.
I like showing off clips of artists that I think my friends would be impressed by to know how good they sound live. I brought my dad to see Kiss a few years back, I’m sorry but if Paul Stanley is about to fly over my head, you bet I’m pulling my phone out to record it.
It’s the 21st century people, this is the concert viewing experience, for better or for worse. Some artists embrace people with their phones –I’ve been to shows where they’ll ask everyone to pull their phones out, turn their lights on and wave them around like maniacs. Its the new age replacing thousands of lighters (which duh, could be kind of dangerous).
Here’s where I can see this hurting the artist, its when they do a tribute. When Tom Petty passed away video after video went viral of artists paying tribute to the rock legend. If it wasn’t for the fans recording that moment we’d only hear it by word of mouth, which is still awesome but because of video, we have it forever. Be thankful for technology.
I’m all about being in the moment and giving my undivided attention to whatever it might be, but I think denying people access to their phones during shows is dumb. What it comes down to is that people just need to be smarter and show more respect to an artist.
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