TGI: Do Mobile phones enhance the gig going experience or are they too distracting?

TGI: Do Mobile phones enhance the gig going experience or are they too distracting?

TGI is back and this time it’s serious. Over the next few instalments, we will be asking some pertinent questions surrounding music. The first concerns the use of Mobile phones at gigs, a few years ago Kate Bush banned all mobile phones from her shows, presumably she was protecting a live DVD she would subsequently release of her first run of shows in decades? And now a new survey by Skiddle of over 1,200 young people between the ages of 16-30 were questioned about the use of mobile phones at gigs and festivals. It found that over a quarter of young people (27%) think mobile phones should be banned at live music events because filming and photography is distracting and takes away from the experience.

Versus that of the 74% who said mobile phones shouldn’t be banned; over half (52%) of young people said they capture footage because they like to relive the experience once they have left the event. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they like to share the music experience on social media and 13% said if they have bought a ticket it is their right to use their phones as they wish. On the one hand, I can see the issue, it’s mediating the experience through technology: if people are so busy watching a gig via their mobile phone they will likely lose the visceral experience and be too distracted filming the gig or taking photos to enjoy it with their own two eyes, they might put others off too by obstructing their view. On the other, mobile phone cameras have allowed for greater ease in capturing a live performance than the days when you had to lug a heavy camera with you to a show and pop off to Boots in the morning to develop the shots, thus it’s never been easier to capture a gig and photograph or film an artist on stage often in great digital clarity and then share the results on social media or Instagram for everyone to see and share. Indeed, they allow you to find your friends, tweet about a show and can even be used as a modern lighter for the slower songs (see picture). But the results of this survey reflect the beginnings of a digital backlash, we have seen people talk about going social media free, maybe cameras and phones will be next to be given some time out as people look to reconnect with real experiences instead of being chained to a mobile phone? But it’s hard to imagine a world before mobiles now such is their importance to our lives.


So what do you think? Do Mobile phones enhance the gig going experience or are they too distracting?

1 thought on “TGI: Do Mobile phones enhance the gig going experience or are they too distracting?

  1. ‘Young’ and ‘ban’ go together like War and Peace. Coercion is better. St Vincent made a pretty good job of it during her 2014 tour with her humourous ‘analogue advisory’ but it helped that the album she was promoting concerned itself with an anti-digital message anyway. But her request not to use ‘phones for filming was largely respected. In my view, if someone wants to waste their time filming because they haven’t the wit to understand being “of the moment” that’s their prerogative. (BTW stand or sit at the back of any venue and observe how many people pay little attention to the show, irrespective of the artist – it will surprise you; but that’s another story). But of course, it isn’t that simple. As you say, the view of others may be blocked and I’ve seen fights break out over it. Ideally, there would be segregated viewing areas in larger venues, with those that want to be film directors limited to one area and possibly paying a premium price for the privilege. But I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Incidentally, I’ve gone without a cell phone, never mind a smartphone, since 1998 (I was an early adopter in 1991), I refuse to be a slave to technology, unlike everyone who has one the ‘authorities’ can’t pinpoint exactly where I am at any time they choose, I can’t be listened in to, and it’s never done me any harm whatsoever.

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