A Response To Kate Crudgington’s Open Letter About Recording Gigs With Your Cell Phone

Yesterday a post went up on the music blog GigSlutz in the form of an open letter to all music fans who use their cell phones to record live shows.  Author Kate Crudgington took the opportunity to complain about the negative aspects of the experience for other concert-goers and even explains that she is a, “reformed gig recorder.”  In her own words, “I didn’t pay the price listed on the ticket for you to stand in front of me, with your smart phone within blinking distance of my face.”

I wanted to comment on the post about how taking video at a show isn’t always bad, but their site doesn’t seem to have a working comments section. So instead I am going to share my “open response” to Kate’s letter here, and for all of you lovely people to read it.  (Damn you Gigslutz for making me write this in a way where I have to re-check my grammar!!!)

Kate, you’re wrong.  The truth is that concert-goers today are going to enjoy the live experience in their own way whether you like it or not.  The dynamic of how people like you and I enjoyed shows in the 90’s has changed.  Technology has made its way into every aspect of our lives, and that goes for live performances as well.  Just as we check Facebook on the train to work to see what our friends are sharing, Instagram our breakfast or Tweet about what political candidate is the antichrist, many people also throw some live footage of bands they’ve seen up on YouTube.

Do you also get annoyed when someone takes a picture of a sculpture in a museum and shares it online?  Shouldn’t people go in person to see the sculpture in all its 3D glory?  Surely the lens doesn’t do the sculpture any justice.  Do you feel the same way if someone films at a sporting event?  Surely people should be focused on the experience of seeing highly-trained athletes run faster, hit harder, or strategize better than most other people can even comprehend, rather than filming some plays or hits or series’.

I’m not a big fan of people filming shows on their phones or tablets.  I think most of the time the people doing it look like idiots.  I’m the type of person who shouldn’t even have electronic devices at a show for fear I may break it in the pit or spill beer on it.  If there’s no danger of breaking something fragile then I am personally not having that good of a time at a show… but that’s just me.  That is how I like to enjoy a show and I don’t expect others to conform to it, just like you shouldn’t tell other people they can’t film on their phones.

As a musician, I look for videos like this of myself after performances.  Hell, just yesterday I was showing someone a live performance filmed by a member of the audience and I was really happy it was there.  And as a fan of music, I really like seeing well-filmed live performances.  Most of the time bands can’t afford to get a professional film crew to tour with them so we rely on fan-footage to get this experience.  The ‘word-of-mouth’ style social reach of these videos does a lot for the bands too.  Often a band can’t afford to travel to every city, or fans might not have the resources to get to a tour date.  Fan-footage can provide an experience for those who would otherwise see nothing.

We’re going down the wrong path when it comes to technology at shows.  The truth is that we should be embracing it and trying to use it to engage fans further, and even bring them in as part of the show.  One example being what Dan Deacon did with his mobile app. He used the cell phone screens as part of his light show. Many bands have done it since and it’s just one way of embracing the trend. I’m excited to see what comes next.

I agree with you Kate, when I say I don’t feel people are getting the best possible experience at a live show if they are busy filming it.  But I think you are wrong for telling others how they should or shouldn’t experience a live performance.  It’s like telling someone the meaning of an abstract painting rather than letting them figure out what it means to them… and it might not be the same as what it means to you.  Let people enjoy a show the way that makes them happy, and you enjoy the show the way that makes you happy.

You end your open letter by saying, “What you really need to remember, however, is one of the most important things in life; don’t worry about how something looks, concentrate on how it feels.”  If that is so, then it shouldn’t really matter to you if a cell phone is “within blinking distance” of your face.  You should just concentrate on what feels good to you rather than being the authority on what cell phone behavior is acceptable at a concert.  Go and focus on the music and not on what other people are doing; you will have a much better experience.

Kate Crudgington’s Open Letter: http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/open-letter-people-record-gigs-phones/

 

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