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Life through a lens: are smartphones ruining gigs?

Posted by Kat Farminer on 14th June 2013

Smartphones at gigsWith the significant rise of the ‘all round’ smartphone in recent years, it now means that the average consumer has less need to buy a separate camera and more opportunity everyday to snap away at any occasion with their phone on hand.

One downfall to this in my opinion is the increased opportunity to separate yourself from an event or experience in order to ‘capture it for later’. In my mind you’re never going to feel the same excitement or fascination from watching a gig or sports event back on your phone as you will when you’re there, so why not fully immerse yourself in the moment and live life in the moment and not through a lens.

The most recent example of this came when world-renowned pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed out of a concert when he became agitated after someone began filming on their phone. He later returned to carry on but not before berating the ‘destruction of music through YouTube’ and proceeded to cancel his encore. The news of this on the BBC website saw a huge 518 comment and counting showing this is a debate which is splitting opinion.

Many say a simple notice on the door to ban recording would have sufficed, but for me the wider issue is whether the footage is really ‘killing the industry?’ I mean in the future will people really prefer to watch someone else’s grainy footage online than go and experience the event for themselves?

For me this goes past the simple ‘life through a lens’ argument, in that used correctly, online content can work well. Done well, there’s an equally strong argument that online video can actually help new music be discovered – just take Lana Del Ray, whose first video ramped up over 20 million hits on YouTube. Being able to put together your own tracks and give them a platform without having to enlist a recording label gives many young stars hope that previously didn’t exist.

I guess the answer would be to ask yourself what you are trying to get from your content, if you’re creating content for you to watch back try putting the phone down after getting a few good memory snaps and live life in your own Technicolour.

photo credit: Paul J Coles

  • Sam Golden

    Interesting piece, fair play to Zimerman!

    I do think allowing filming and photography inside a venue definitely means an artist loses some element of creative control. The thing is this can happen as much with professional coverage as it can with UGC – as happened with whole Buzzfeed/Beyonce fiasco http://bit.ly/11EvBFR.

    Personally I don’t think that video will ever replace the real concert experience, you’ll never be able to replicate the excitement, atmosphere, or that smell of sweat and stale beer <3