Should Cell Phones and Cameras Be Banned at Concerts?

Categories: Whatever

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This past weekend a staffer at NPR music blog All Things Considered went to see M. Ward and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Upon entering the legendary venue, writer Bob Boilen spied a sign on the door with the message "Tonight, no photography or videos. Including cell phones."

This isn't anything new to fans of M. Ward, and artist who has always been a vocal enemy of fans taking photos and video at his gigs. But every time something like this is publicized, it starts a great debate over whether or not this should become a common practice, with each side pleading its case.

Some bands think it's a great thing and gets the word, er, image out of the band, while other musicians and fans are of the mind that it takes the spectators out of the moment they are trying to create for their audience. Plus to them, it's annoying as hell.

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Photo by Groovehouse
"I personally feel like it's the spectators right to take pictures or video if they want," says Bryce Perkins of local band Jody Seabody & The Whirls. "They paid, after all. I'm not into telling our fans what they can and cannot do. You know, within reason. It never hurts a band to have that kind of footage shared, big or small, because it's all exposure regardless."

Houston's own world-touring Celtic rock act The Blaggards have gone on record saying that for them it's a self-sustaining networking tool. Any show anywhere could be the one that nets a band dozens and dozens of new fans just because someone shared a video on Facebook.

I can say for myself in my capacity as a writer here at Rocks Off that I like taking pictures at shows, big and small, to post for you guys on Facebook or on our Twitter feed. Anything above and beyond that, I don't like it.

I would like to think I am providing a glimpse into what you may be missing, and not being obnoxious about it. I am in agreement with Perkins that it's good for younger and more unknown bands. With the way the industry is going, any (free) publicity is good publicity.

People like M. Ward must feel beyond that, but I respect his opinion. It does have to be irksome to be playing a song you poured out from your heart and look up to see a sea of cell phones, but at the same time these are paying customers who are trying to pass on a bit of you and your music to others.

It's a double-edged sword caked in salt, and dipped in hot sauce.

Of course there is a guy like Glenn Danzig who refuses to be photographed or otherwise recorded onstage and has gone out of his way to be a moaning bitch about people taking pictures of him that are unflattering.

Even my beloved George Strait and his PR team have their own regulations when it comes to photography.



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9 comments
Jeff
Jeff

I have no issue with cell phones at shows as long as you aren't talking on it at an acoustic show -- or talking at all for that matter. Frankly, if I'm at a good show, I want people to know about it and, as a musician, I want people to share that they are enjoying themselves on Twitter, Facebook, via text, wherever. That's the best publicity any band can get and it's absolutely free.

Rita K. Healey
Rita K. Healey

plus random video clips, which does get annoying if you're standing behind them...MayorMoney.blogspot.com

Show some respect.
Show some respect.

I'd ban cell phones at concerts, and I'll even go one further. if you've gone out to see a show with a herd of your bubble-headed "friends", and you find yourselves standing around in a circle talking to each other the whole time the music is playing, you're not there to see the band. You're there to "be seen." just go outside, and have your stupid conversation.

Kelly
Kelly

The 930 Club is a huge stickler for rules. I saw a guy get refused entrance to a Yonder Mountain String Band show because his eyes were too blood shot. True story.

William Philpot
William Philpot

Phones have contributed to why I don't really go to concerts anymore. I used to go to shows and have a good time with a group of people that like the same bands. Past few years it's just been a group of people trying to get the best shitty shaky blurry picture of video with bad audio they can. It's the super annoying evolution of keeping all your concert tickets to prove you were there.

titus
titus

why do people just assume that the performer is some rock star, or the epitome of vanity or anything. Most of the times, the performers dont set/have the rules for the venue. The booking company/touring company/venue/promoter/etc usually sets the rules.  Secondly, maybe they arent doing it out of vanity, but out of respect for the other concert goers. Like a movie theater that asks you not to text or call during a movie, yes they dont want you filming the movie for legal reasons, but its also taking in consideration all the other patrons in the theater.  I know i personally find it extremely annoying when im getting into a band/song, and all the sudden bright lights appear and everyone is blocking my viewpoint with their tablets and phones. Go to enjoy the music and live in the moment. Not so you can immediately post on a social network so your friends think you are cool cause you went to a concert.  i for one would wholeheartedly support the banning of all cell phones and cameras at concerts. i dont see that being realistic though.

Ramon LP4 Medina
Ramon LP4 Medina

No that's pretty lame.  Surely not as awesome as Elvis stopping a song midway to sit on his fat ass to catch his breath while stealing a drink from an audience member to be sure but  I'm sure the frontman had a potential triple word score that would use all seven letters and he just couldn't wait to use it.

Craig Hlavaty
Craig Hlavaty

What's worse to me is when I see an artist (A FRONTMAN) checking his phone after each song. I have seen this way too much.

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