Music and Live Gigs: Are mobiles helping or hindering?

This week, I took a well-earned break from my studies, to visit the Phones 4u Arena (when did it stop being the MEN Arena?) to watch some Canadian guy, by the name of Mr. Bryan Adams. It’s not the first time I’ve seen BA, and it won’t be the last; I’ve been a fan since the ‘Reckless’ album was first released, (now the Tour is celebrating its 30 year anniversary, Yeah, I’m old-skool!)

As is customary at various live venues, official folks were searching the bags of classic-rock-lovers as we entered: bags were checked, (I actually had a Field Recorder in my bag – I usually do, and that caused much less concern than you would think!) but no mention of mobile phones. I was a little confused by this. We’re at a point in technology when we all walk around with a reasonably powerful media device in our pocket, and although the guy did mention the Field Recorder I had (he seemed very concerned about video and asked me not to film anything with it!) he never asked me about a mobile, or asked me not to use THAT to film anything.
There’s a great deal of contention about this subject in the media at the moment, with some artists openly asking

Martin Cooper in the 1970s: the Father of the Mobile phone.
Martin Cooper in the 1970s: The Father of the Mobile phone. Image: hightechhistory.com

gig-goers to leave their mobiles at home – with the assumption that recording and viewing a gig through a mobile screen lessens the event, for you and the people around you. Kate Bush recently played a 22-night residency at London’s Hammersmith theatre, requesting that fans refrain from using mobile phones and tablets to record, or take pictures. Mobile phones were still the size of large bricks when Bush did her last live gig in 1979, and had they included cameras, we would have needed to carry a battery the size of a small car around with us. Prior to the Hammersmith Apollo residency, Bush gave the following statement:

“It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras”. (Bush K., 2014)

Cumbrian based folk musician Fiona Clayton is a live performer who sees mobile phone use at live gigs differently:

“I think as an artist when you see people on their phones and mobiles or video devices it makes us feel like we’re putting on a good show. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request but if I was at a Kate Bush gig, I’d want to take a picture and be all “Hey, I saw Kate Bush! In this day and age we thrive on media and being able to capture the moment.” (Clayton, F. 2014)

In a post on his Facebook page, Roger Waters disagreed, possibly sharing the same view as Bush that the experience is somehow diluted by not giving it your full attention:

“Apart from anything else, how could I possibly truly experience the thing I’d paid to see and hear, if I was fiddling with an iPhone, filming or twittering or chatting or whatever?” (Waters, R. 2011)

Whilst I can understand this view, I do tend to agree with Clayton on this. As long as you are mindful of not spoiling anyone else’s view with a HUGE tablet or mobile, I can certainly see why people would want to capture the moment and be able to replay it whenever they wanted to. As mentioned earlier, we all have pretty powerful devices in our pockets these days, and I’m not really sure that holding a phone up out of your line of view (and anyone else’s ) DOES actually take away from any experience of a live performance. That being said, If an artist DID ask for an audience to refrain from recording or photography, I would respect that, but other than directly asking fans to abstain I don’t really see how this will change, especially as venues seem more concerned with people taking sweets and drinks into a live performance with them!


Bibliography and resources:

Kate Bush (2014). Daily Mail [online]. Available from: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2728890/Kate-Bush-urges-fans-not-film-comeback-gigs-phones-wants-concentrate-enjoying-music.html#ixzz3KES29i6b&gt;. [Accessed 28/11/2104].
Fiona Clayton (2014). Cumbria Live.co.uk[online]. Available from: http://www.cumbrialive.co.uk/home/is-kate-bush-right-about-phones-at-concerts-1.1156877. [Accessed 28/11/2104].
Images from http://hightechhistory.com/2010/12/08/martin-cooper-father-of-the-cellular-phone/
Roger Waters (2014). Roger Waters on Facebook [online]. Available from: <https://www.facebook.com/notes/roger-waters-the-wall/a-note-from-roger-february-25-2011/206547819359676&gt;. [Accessed 28/11/2104].

Connected Learning and Nuggets: Is the web Good or Bad?

Connected Courses are a collection of higher education faculties who are collaborating to provide and develop online, open courses which will facilitate the learning of teachers and students. A part of this exercise involves taking a passage or part of a work that you find interesting, and making it more meaningful, using media, such as images, video or even hyperlinks. I chose a passage from ‘Answers for Young People’, written by Sir Tim Berners Lee. The work is made up of a number of questions and replies made by the inventor of the web. An answer which I found particularly interesting, was Berners Lee’s response to the question, “So do you think the Web is basically been a good idea or a bad one?”


“Some people point out that the Web can be used for all the wrong things. For downloading pictures of horrible, gruesome, violent or obscene things, or ways of making bombs which terrorists could use. Other people say how their lives have been saved because they found out about the disease they had on the Web, and figured out how to cure it. I think the main thing to remember is that any really powerful thing can be used for good or evil. Dynamite can be used to build tunnels or to make missiles. Engines can be put in ambulances or tanks. Nuclear power can be used for bombs or for electrical power. So what is made of the Web is up to us.

You, me, and everyone else.

Here is my hope.

The Web is a tool for communicating.”

Sir Tim Berners Lee.


I think the main premise of this passage highlights the fact that the internet IS completely neutral, and that it can be used in good or bad ways. I do however, think that some of the comments are a little naive, maybe a product of the time, and it’s possible that if the same question were asked again, maybe Berners Lee’s answer may change, especially regarding the internet being accessible, free to all and away from the control of large, influential corporations. I added some media which express my opinions on the passage.

Some people point out that the Web can be used for all the wrong things. For downloading pictures of horrible, gruesome, violent or obscene things, or ways of making bombs which terrorists could use.

Other people say how their lives have been saved because they found out about the disease they had on the Web, and figured out how to cure it.

I think the main thing to remember is that any really powerful thing can be used for good or evil.

Dynamite can be used to build tunnels or to make missiles. Engines can be put in ambulances or tanks. Nuclear power can be used for bombs or for electrical power.

So what is made of the Web is up to us. You, me, and everyone else.

Here is my hope.

The Web is a tool for communicating.


Websites:

http://connectedcourses.net/thecourse/web-concept-platform-cultures/

http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/Kids.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/the-internet-saved-my-life_n_1918112.html

Technology is Destroying the Quality of Human Interaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2V9-3ZwnIU

Internet: Good or Bad? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRZT-WNIAWs

How are independent musicians using the internet?

As part of my MSc Studies, I will be joining forces with a fellow student, Danny Haydock (check out his blog here!) to explore the above question. The research will look at the different methods used by independent (and non-independents I guess!) musicians and music-makers to promote and market their music.

It’s not a likely to be a revelation to anyone that the internet has changed our attitudes to how we expect to get our music: file sharing, (illegal and legal!) social networks and pay-sites such as Napster, Spotify and iTunes give us immediate access to old and new music; YouTube, Soundcloud and a myriad of similar platforms allow artists to reach out to us directly with media content, bringing the opportunity to interact and engage with them, ‘person to person’.

Some individuals think that musicians have recently overstepped the mark with over-aggressive marketing and forced download. Mainstream Dad-Rockers U2 recently downloaded their latest album to 500 million iTunes users as part of a new phone launch from Apple, prompting front man Bono to apologise to a non-fan on a Social Networking Questions and Answers session, where the unrequested download was described as being ‘really rude’. Proving that there is the possibility to go too far with marketing.

U2 frontman Bono recently apologised on a social network for the band's automatic download to 500 million phones.
U2 frontman Bono recently apologised on a social network for the band’s automatic download to 500 million phones.

With the huge range of choice facing musicians at the moment, our study will be concerned with gaining information from musicians by way of an internet questionnaire: how many hours a week do musicians spend promoting their music; which platforms they use and how; how much interaction they have with fans, both in the physical and virtual world. We’ll also look at the effectiveness of the internet for different genres of music, with our hypotheses being related to the premise that electronic musicians and DJs may have more success than say, rock or blues musicians.

If you would like to take part in the study, or are interested in the result, keep checking back here.

Don’t forget to follow EmJay Audio on Twitter!

Websites and references:

http://www.wix.com/blog/2013/07/promote-your-music/

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/oct/15/u2-bono-issues-apology-for-apple-itunes-album-download