Has the following scenario ever happened to you?
Part of a Celluloid Dream
You participate in ticket sale and end up with 8th floor center seats for that one band/artist/performer you thought you’d never see. You begin a countdown to the show, and it feels like the evening will never arrive, but it does. You get to the venue, walk proudly down to the floor section and find your seats. You’re super excited to be there and realize that the stage is really just feet away. The show begins, everyone stands up – and out come the cell phones.
Everyone around you, or at least in front of you, seems to have their phone up in the air, videoing the show. Some may only do it for 30 second periods, others seem to hold their phone up the entire time. All you know is that what once seemed like great seats are now crappy because you’re having to find the “window” in between all of the screens. As the owners of these phones shift position, so do you. You’re ducking, standing on tip-toe, peering around and under, just to see the band of your choice.
It’s annoying. I’ve had that happen – in fact, both times I’ve seen Duran Duran at the Cosmopolitan, Amanda and I have been back in about the 8th or 9th row, and invariably there’s a wall of cell phones between us and the stage. You have to make the best of it, because otherwise – well, the experience is ruined, and no one wants that.
Rewind back to yesterday
I’d be telling a bit fat fib if I said I had never once held up my phone at a show, though. Of course I have. I’ve taken pictures, I’ve even taken video. I’ve also gone to shows and left my phone in the car, or even at home. Most often at Duran Duran shows, I tend to take my phone out a couple of times, take a few pictures, and put it away. I’m not that great of a photographer anyway, and I would rather watch the band and live in that moment.
I’ve also, like many others – watched Facebook live as someone streams a show. I’m always fascinated by that, because I’m not able to disconnect myself enough as an audience member to think about streaming. It isn’t that I don’t want to share, it’s that I’m so busy flailing my arms around and acting like an idiot that I can’t hold still long enough to take video! Regardless though, I’ve absolutely taken advantage of the kindness of others. I’ve watched those live streams. Not only that, I’ve searched endlessly for videos on YouTube. So you can 100% count me in as part of the problem.
Blurred my vision
On one hand, I don’t like seeing nothing but a sea of screens at a show. Seriously, it’s one good reason for me to buy tickets as close to the stage as possible. It’s an added benefit to being so close that I can see the stubble on Dom’s face, or notice if Simon’s shoes are untied. Yes, I’ve looked. I don’t know why.
On the other hand though, I do love being able to see videos of the shows I’ve not been able to attend. Not only that, there are certain songs from certain shows that I’ve been at that I want to see over and over again, for various reasons. YouTube is my best friend for that.
Almost inevitably, Amanda and I can find and compile nearly the full set list from any show we’ve attended. YouTube is a great resource, but I also think that maybe this is a bigger problem than I’d ever considered. The convenience factor for FANS might be fabulous, but what about the band? Did they agree to be filmed? Do they really want any and all of us to be able to get video from any show out there? I mean – at what point does all of that video, from nearly any show they’ve done in the past 5 years (minimum) start to hurt ticket sales? Does it ever hurt? Is it a cause worth fighting, or is it just so out of hand that it’s impossible to manage?
Where did it all go wrong?
I’m wondering about how other fans might feel. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear from a much younger person who still hadn’t learned the hard lesson that a discussion, even one taking place on social media, does not need to be a litany of insults in order to be effective. Regardless, she felt that once you buy a ticket to a show – you should be able to do whatever you want, regardless of how other people around you may feel. She argued that she paid for the right to hold up her phone and record, and that I was just “butt hurt” about not being able to see.
The entire conversation made me laugh a bit. It didn’t occur to her that if everyone held up their phone, she might not even be able to take video herself, but from the way she responded—I don’t think that mattered. Someone else pointed out the fine print on the back of the ticket where it clearly states that recording a show is not legal. She responded that she’s even had her phone broken at shows and yet has never been thrown out. All I could think of was that she’s never been to some of the venues I’ve been to, including the Chelsea Theatre in the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas.
She also said that “no one” ever records an entire show. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. Plenty of people do, because I find them with regularity on YouTube. I also had to laugh when she called me old and annoying. Yeah, tell me something I don’t already know.
Living in a Pop Trash movie
I don’t think this is necessarily a youth vs. “finely aged” problem. I know many of my fellow “finely aged” peers who regularly stream and/or take video of shows to post later on YouTube. This is also not a slam against those people – it’s a genuine problem. I, too, watch YouTube. Seeing Facebook Live when I can’t possibly fly out of the country or even across the United States to see a once-in-a-lifetime gig is handy. But at what price to other people? Is it really fair to all involved? I’m as guilty as anyone else.
Admittedly, I hadn’t given any of it a lot of thought until yesterday. The only time the thought goes through my head is when I’ve been at shows and had screens thrust up in my line of sight, or when I have taken out my own phone. I try to be at least mindful that I might be blocking someone. It is the same reason I stopped holding up signs at shows – however “cute” they might be, it isn’t nice to block someone’s view behind me – which I know I’ve done in the past.
I’m curious about how others feel. I threw the question out on Twitter yesterday, but it’s time to hear from the rest of you! What say you on the subject of cell phone videos and streaming at shows?