September 27, 2023
Music News

An interesting tug of war: Ban cell phones at concerts or incorporate them into the show?

There are plenty of artists who have come out against fans using cell phones during concerts. Jack White, Tool, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day, and others have all either put tough measures in place or choose to excoriate fans who aren’t getting into the gig because they’re intent on watching it through their tiny screams.

Then we have the artists who have embraced the technology and have figured out ways to incorporate mobile devices into the show. U2 and Coldplay are two examples.

So which is it? Are cell phones an asset or a liability when it comes to concerts? Let’s go to this story at Ultimate Classic Rock.

[Concert design director Ray Winkler] continued: “[Y]ou’re very minded to make the experience mobile-friendly. … A lot of people don’t even watch the show anymore – they film the show and watch it on their phones. That changes the way one thinks about design, quite considerably. You can’t underestimate the power of making sure a show looks good the moment people walk into a stadium – it’s now as important as the show itself.”

Read the whole thing here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37109 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “An interesting tug of war: Ban cell phones at concerts or incorporate them into the show?

  • I’d love it if the stage lighting could somehow wash out cell phone videos so the show was unfilmable while still making it possible for the audience to watch the show. Maybe I’m over the hill but I can’t understand the rationale of paying a bundle of money to attend a concert and then watching the whole thing through your cell

  • As someone who works at venues (sound/lights guy), there’s really no way around it. Sure, we can talk about it from the standpoint of people in a stadium where security is tight, and famous people can grandstand, but are we going to ban phones in every small venue and bar in town, too? It’s ridiculous to even assert that there’s something to be done OTHER than incorporate it.

    Hell, when I set my lighting, it’s with intent that it will look good in pictures. After having helped shoot a few music videos in my venues, it is clear that there is value in a performance looking good through a lens; and not just to appease professional photo/videographers.

    We live in a generation where Instagram is the most popular social media platform, and that isn’t because most people would rather just sit and enjoy the experience. People watch to capture and document everything. Banning it wouldn’t be very good for business.


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