Bands to gig-goers: Put down your phones

SEA OF PHONES: Musicians are now speaking out against a rising trend among fans of filming concerts on phones.


    Jul 03, 2013

    Bands to gig-goers: Put down your phones

    CONCERT-GOERS will be familiar with this scenario.

    Just as the atmosphere at a live music event reaches fever pitch, a sea of illuminated smartphones obscures the view and shatters the intimacy, reducing your memories to a shaky YouTube clip drowned out by off-key gig-goers.

    Artists and fans are now speaking out against the rising trend of filming concerts on phones.

    "People who would rather record a gig than actually look with their own eyes" are challenging the "very essence of the live experience", said Mr Glenn Max, a producer who has worked with Massive Attack, John Cale and Patti Smith.

    Tim Burgess, lead singer of British band The Charlatans, urged music fans to use the "recording device in our brains", which "have far better effects than those you can get from a phone".

    Mr Max, who is also the artistic director of London's Village Underground cultural project, added that as well as affecting the crowd's enjoyment, those on stage are also bothered by phones in gigs.

    He said: "Artists work hard and very carefully to be represented (the way) they conceive their own work. Imagine singing your heart out to an audience that's stripping you of this dignity."

    But should anything be done to limit the trend?

    After all, thanks to online amateur footage, fans in countries not visited by the travelling bands now have a chance to sample the concert experience.

    But many artists remain opposed. American art-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs took matters into their own hands, posting notes on the doors of New York's Webster Hall asking fans not to film their performance "as a courtesy to the person behind you, and to Nick, Karen and Brian (the band members)".

    The power to enforce a ban ultimately rests with the battered music industry, which has already seen technology decimate its revenues from record sales.

    Record companies own exclusive rights to record their artists' music, meaning promoters have to do "what they can" to prevent unauthorised filming, said Mr Chris Cooke, a legal expert and co-founder of online news provider Complete Music Update.

    Although not "specifically illegal", promoters could sue transgressors for breach of contract if filming is forbidden by the ticket's terms, he said.