Are smartphones ruining concerts?

Smartphones have become omnipresent in our society and are present in almost all events and activities. Unfortunately, this has had negative effects on live music performances. At concerts nowadays, people use their phones to record videos and take photos, which detracts from the artist’s performance and also distracts other spectators. Not only smartphones interfere with the lights and settings chosen by the musicians, but block the view for other spectators. The recent trend is leading to further disconnection between artists and fans, making the experience less engaging. Many artists have noticed this, who they complain about smartphones at concerts and that they have inserted prohibition rules intended to become increasingly used in tours and festivals next summer.

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Bob Dylan’s ban

For his next tour which will also take him to Italy, Bob Dylan has imposed a ban on the use of smartphones at concerts. Viewers’ phones will be placed in a special case that blocks access to the devices. This rule has been enforced to allow the audience to fully enjoy their show without distraction and applies to all tour dates. This is not the only choice made by the artists in this sense: Alicia Keys, John Meyer, Guns’ N Roses and Jack White have imposed similar bans at their events.

The ban on smartphones is spreading fast, and in the US, one company has become synonymous with device cases. It’s called Yondr, and it aims to create phone-free spaces for artists, comedians, teachers, organizations, and more. Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and smartwatches fit into Yondr cases by the staff and then be released at the end of the show. Guests retain possession of their phones at all times and can use them in designated usage areas throughout the property at any time. In addition to cases, the musicians are banking on direct messages to fans during shows to stop the ongoing filming.

Depeche Mode against smartphones

Put that phone away and enjoy the concert!” is the cry, went viral on social media, by Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan during a recent performance. The singer is just the latest in a string of artists who have explicitly complained about too many phones at concerts. Beyoncé told fans during a show: “You have to put down your camera phones for a second and really enjoy this moment“. Similar cries of alarm came from Adele and Bruno Mars, tired of seeing only a slew of screens in front of you. “It’s hard to perform and try to read the audience’s feelings when you’re looking at a wall of phonesMars said. The problem isn’t just for digital natives — people of all ages are recording or capturing video all the time in order to post the clips on social media and show they were at the concert.

The protests also come from fans angry with the rest of the audience. Articles and editorials against the use of smartphones have appeared in numerous American newspapers. “If I’m paying good money to see a concert, I’d rather not be bothered by people just trying to memorize the moment on their mobile deviceswrote the Washington Post music critic. With ticket prices soaring, viewers don’t want to pay for a less exciting experience. It is probable – and almost justified given the level we have reached – that smartphones will increasingly be banned at concerts: it is a drastic solution that artists have had to undertake to entice fans to enjoy the moment and once again appreciate the live music.

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