Put Your Phone Away: The Live Concert Hypocrisy

I was at a fantastic concert last night in San Francisco for the Idan Raichel Project:

I think this was my 4th time seeing him in the Bay Area, and this was by far his best show.

So those blurry photos taken by yours truly were apparently against the rules. At seemingly random intervals throughout the night, a security person would ask one of the 50% of concert goers to please stop taking photos w/ their phones (they never asked me). It was very disrupting and everyone seemed confused. All this was happening while the front row attendees were taking live video and Idan Raichel himself would sometimes grab their phones and take the footage himself to the delight of everyone.

I don’t remember ever seeing it this aggressive at previous concerts. I recall in Oakland a couple of summers ago someone was shooting video footage non-stop and got asked to stop.

So what’s going on ? Is taking a bunch of blurry photos and low quality quick video really a threat ? Isn’t it exactly the definition of personal use and not for rebroadcast or resell ?

In a world of Spotify and YouTube, the music and often the music video is readily available. What exactly is the harm of capturing a few moments to share with your friends and family ? For me, it’s mostly a moment to capture to remember years later.

I do get the argument that someone holding up their phone for 2 hours is a distraction to the other concert goers – so I think some common sense rules would be good. Like only take photos at the beginning or end of a song, and step into the aisle to take a longer video clip.

But I’d go even further. Why don’t live concerts have a professional photographer walking around who can take great shots for sale later. And why not offer a live audio or video recording of the concert ?

After the concert all I saw for sale were CDs (!) and t-shirts. What if they had for sale a USB with raw HD video of the show plus high quality MP3s and online access too ? I would be tempted to drop $40-$60 for that.

3 thoughts on “Put Your Phone Away: The Live Concert Hypocrisy

  1. Melisa says:

    I have the same sentiments. This also happens in watching classical music concerts—in our country (Philippines). We could not even make any audio recording of the performance. If it’s your sister playing the violin with the rest of the orchestra, you don’t have the right to record their music.

    I find this very unfair. Like what you said, we’re not even allowed to share it with some close family and friends who didn’t get the opportunity to watch the concert.

    Because of this, of course we’d want to have a copy of the music and photos of the orchestra playing, but these are not available. Like you said, “Why don’t live concerts have a professional photographer walking around who can take great shots for sale later. And why not offer a live audio or video recording of the concert ?”

    I guess they don’t know what preservation and sharing means. 😦

  2. Avram Bar-Cohen says:

    Selling USB’s with the “live” concert just heard is a fantastic idea. I think there would be a huge market for such a personalized record of the concert.

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