We’ve all been there. You’re at a concert, and the performer takes the stage. The lights go down, and you hear the first few notes of your favorite song. You start to get excited, but then you see it. Dozens of fans with their cellphones in the air, viewing their favorite artist through a camera lens.
Maybe you’ve even been that person. Concertgoers have been using cell phones to take photos and videos of performances for years now. Yet, everywhere you look, you’ll come across the same old story, fans criticizing other fans for using cell phones at concerts—incessant whining and longing for the ‘good old days’ before the era of cellphones.
But is it such a bad thing? In this article, we explore why maybe, it’s time we stop complaining. Firstly…
Everyone Enjoys Music Differently
Concerts are a time for people to come together and enjoy the music. Many people film large portions of the concert from their phones and then post them online for others to see. While some people argue that this takes away from the experience of actually being there, I believe that it can still be a good way to enjoy the show. Cellphone footage can capture the crowd’s energy and the emotions felt during the performance. In addition, cell phones allow us to capture and share our favorite moments and share them with others.
And while it’s a fair argument that you don’t get the same immersive experience as being there in person, you can still get a sense of the energy and excitement of the concert through the noise, excitement, and energy of the crowd around the person filming.
It can also provide a way for people who could not attend the concert to enjoy the music. Even in a pre-pandemic world, purchasing a ticket to see a show was difficult for some to afford. However, with concerts resuming for the first time in years and the concert industry looking to recoup the losses from COVID-19, ticket prices are soaring. This brings me to my next point:
Concert Tickets Are Becoming More Expensive
Concert tickets have long been a popular commodity, with diehard fans often willing to spend big money to see their favorite bands live. However, in the wake of the pandemic, things are worse than ever before. A recent report has found that tickets to events are up as much as 100%. A ticket that may have once run a fan for 70 dollars is now 140 dollars. One potential contributor to this rising cost is inflation, and commodity pricing increases, as the cost of living has gone up significantly in recent years. For concertgoers, this includes the cost of transportation, lodging, and food, all of which can add up when attending a concert.
So while some concertgoers may be able to absorb the higher costs, others may be priced out of the market altogether. This could lead to concert venues becoming increasingly exclusive, with only the wealthiest fans able to afford to attend live shows. In addition, inflated ticket prices could also have a ripple effect on the music industry, as fewer people may be willing to pay to see live shows.
So, what does all of this have to do with cellphones? As the cost of concert tickets continues to rise, more and more fans are turning to fan-recorded videos to experience their favorite artists’ live. With cell phones, they can still enjoy the music from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to fans recording the show and uploading it to services like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.
Technology is changing the way we experience live events
Technology has profoundly impacted how we experience live events and concerts. In the past, attending a live event meant being in the same physical space as the performer. Today, technology has made it possible to experience live events anywhere, using nothing more than a cellphone and internet connection.
We can watch concerts and other events through technologies like live-streaming in real-time without leaving our homes. For example, during the COVID pandemic, some artists chose to put on live streams for their fans, so they could still experience them live without the risk of contracting COVID.
Additionally, with the improvements in VR technology, a new era of potential fan interaction has become a possibility: VR concerts. Imagine an age where with the right headset and perhaps nothing more than a cellphone app, you can be inserted into a live concert event with fans worldwide.
While there’s something to be said for the experience of being in the same room as your favorite band or artist, this is not a privilege everyone can experience. For many, the cellphone recorded videos are their only option.
So how do the artists feel about cellphone recordings at concerts?
While we argue that cellphone recordings at shows are not a bad thing, when it comes to artists’ opinions on the matter, this is where it gets tricky.
Cell phones have become more and more integrated into our everyday lives. And while they provide a convenient way to stay connected with loved ones, they can also be a significant source of distraction for artists performing live. Therefore, not all musicians are thrilled with this trend. In fact, some artists have made it explicitly clear that they do not want fans to use cell phones at their concerts. Tool is one such band, and they have been known to threaten to eject fans who are caught recording videos or taking pictures.
In a statement on Twitter, Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello said, “If you wanna film instead of rocking out, that’s your call. But I EXPLICITLY state, ‘If you stick a cell phone in my face, I will throw it.’ This likely constitutes ‘fair warning.'”
Jack White has also spoken out against cell phone use at concerts. He said, “People can’t clap anymore because they’ve got a fucking texting thing in their fucking hand.” Jack argues that if fans cannot give him the same energy back, perhaps he is wasting his time.
On the other hand, some artists will use their time in the mobile spotlight to provide memorable experiences for fans who are recording. Coldplay and Wizkid have been among the many celebrities that have grabbed fans’ cellphones and produced unique videos. After recording them singing up close or filming them on stage with the audience behind them, they return the phone with a one-of-a-kind video that will be treasured forever by the fan.
Chester Bennington is another excellent example. The late lead vocalist of Linkin Park would frequently leap down to the barricade during shows and sing next to fans while looking into a phone camera, completely comprehending how much this meant to the fan. These artists understood technology rather than viewed it as a threat.
Look. I get it. For many artists, cell phone recordings are a major source of frustration. They argue that the bright screens are disruptive, preventing fans from fully experiencing the concert. In addition, cell phone recordings for years have often resulted in poor-quality audio, which does not do justice to the hard work of the musicians. However, as technology advances, this issue becomes less and less of a concern. Given that cellphones at concerts have been a thing for close to 20 years, one must wonder when artists will begin to view it as a necessary evil instead of making it a problem.
Cell phone recordings are here to stay, and artists will need to find ways to adapt. Because at the end of the day:
It’s Really Not That Bad!
I have gone to many concerts in my lifetime, both small/intimate and large arena shows. I can honestly say that having fans record the show around me has never disrupted my enjoyment of the show or taken me out of the ambiance.
If anything, I eagerly search YouTube after a show to see if a video exists, so I can relive my favorite moments of the show in all their glory. I’m grateful that we have the technology to capture and share these moments with the world in this day and age. What once was exclusive to memory can now be preserved forever. And that is a beautiful thing.
The cell phone has given the power to people to document their life experiences, and we should not take that away. We should celebrate it. In short…
People need to mind their own business.
People continue to complain about cell phones because they are afraid of change and progress. These dated arguments against cell phones feel tired, anti-progressive, and out of touch with reality. Technology will continue to develop regardless of how vociferous its critics may be. So why not embrace progress rather than avoid it?
Next time you’re at a concert and you see someone holding up their cell phone, don’t be so quick to judge. They’re just trying to hold on to a moment in time like we all wish we could with life’s most incredible memories. Having gone to see so many great rock concerts with my late father, I am thankful for all the videos I have where I can relive those memories I had with them. Decades from now, if I feel myself missing my father, I can pull up one of those videos, and I’ll be transported back to that special moment.
So I say: Stop complaining about cell phones. Instead, let those fans enjoy the concert in their own way. Then, one day, when you’re trying to find footage of a special memory you had and find a fan recording of it, you’ll be glad they did.
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