Are Phones Ruining Concerts?

Smartphones are now part of our everyday life. It gets more and more challenging to spend time without compulsively checking our notifications or without taking pictures. When it comes to concerts, it is hard to fight the temptation of taking pictures and videos of our favorite artists.

Young people in a live music setting, in particular, tend to spend more time with their phones in their hands rather than enjoying the moment. It is not unusual at hip-hop or pop concerts to see oceans of people with their phones out. It can certainly take away from the vibe.

Though the issues aren’t limited to younger people, it’s also common to see heavy smartphone use in concerts with older demographics (or even worse, older people taking photos with their iPads at concerts! Yikes!).

Are Phones Ruining Concerts – Key Takeaways

  • Not only do phones take away from the moment of being at a concert, but they can also make the performer uncomfortable.
  • While recording a snippet or a moment is not harmful, it all comes down to common sense. Record your journey but don’t spend the entire concert behind your phones.
  • Each concert is unique so rather than having the phone in front of you, be in the moment and enjoy what’s happening then and now.
  • Taking videos of a concert can sometimes cause copyright issues or financially hurt the artist.
  • Big artists can afford to ban phones from their concerts or shows simply because it ruins the whole experience.

How do Phones interfere with the smooth running of a Concert?

First of all, they can make artists on stage uncomfortable. On top of that, the habit of taking videos at concerts can cause copyright issues or even financially harm the musician.

The presence of live footage on YouTube for free, for example, could affect ticket sales in some cases. In addition to that, the wild sharing of concert snippets on social platforms doesn’t guarantee a fair recompense for the connected copyrights.

Most of the time, however, your smartphone won’t harm the artist on stage, but the concert-goer right beside (or behind) you. You have probably spent a good amount of money to see your favorite artist or band. Finding yourself in a sea of smartphones and rising from the hands of your fellow concert-goers can get really frustrating.

While some artists, such as Lana Del Rey, use this “smartphone fever” to their advantage, taking selfies with their cheering fans that will effortlessly increase their social media presence, some other musicians are not as happy to see their audience more focused on a phone than on the music.

For example, the former White Stripes frontman, Jack White, has repeatedly stated that smartphones are an unnecessary burden in our lives. He also decided to ban their use at their concerts. The English pop star Sam Smith adopted the same policy.

Even the hip-hop legend Kendrick Lamar, who appeals to a very young demographic, has recently banned any photo or video-taking at his concerts. His management wisely understood that having uncontrolled videos or pictures of the shows online was not an incentive for ticket-buying. Quite the opposite, actually.

Here is an example of Coldplay playing a live show in Germany and you can hear how Chris Martin asks everyone to put away their phones so everyone can be in the moment and enjoy it.

It all comes down to Common Sense

Of course, we all like a souvenir of a beautiful experience, but if we film most of the concert and spend our time there facing our smartphones rather than our musical hero, are we really going to remember that as a great night?

Putting a smartphone between you and the artist on stage is like watching a video on YouTube, something you could have done in the comfort of your home, without spending money on a ticket. Surely you’ve found yourself not enjoying the moment as much as you should be, well, that is because of your phone.

A live performance is something unique, something you cannot recreate on your technological devices. You might be able to record a song being played, but, while doing so, you will have missed the present moment, something that will never come back.

Going to a concert should be a mindfulness exercise: understand how a live performance can never be exactly repeated or reproduced and enjoy it fully.

On top of that, the artist needs to establish contact with the audience to perform at his or her best. Feeling the energy of a crowd is way more encouraging than seeing thousands of lifeless smartphone lights directed at you.

Not only musicians such as Jack White and Sam Smith but also comedians such as Dave Chappelle, adopted a special product to prevent their audiences from using their phones at live events. It is a particular pouch you must put your phone in before accessing the phone-free area of the event. When you reach the area, the pouch automatically locks, preventing you from the temptation of checking your notifications or taking pictures of the show.

If you need to use your phone, you can simply walk out of the phone-free zone and the pouch will unlock. Pretty clever, right?

Check out Metallica’s 1991 Russia concert and simply feel and see the energy. No phones in the crowd and everyone is just happy to be there and having fun!

There is another side of the coin to consider

Established artists can afford to ban phones from their concerts because they are already well-known and popular.

Emerging independent acts, however, might benefit a lot from having videos of their performances spread across various social network profiles. It would be a free advertisement, but at what price?

To fill the gap between the need to be present and the desire for a souvenir of the concert experience, some apps flourished on the digital market. StereoCast, for example, was founded in 2015 to provide attendees with an instant copy of the live recording of the concert.

Apps like StereoCast seem to offer the perfect balance among contrasting needs and considerations.

Can mobile phones ruin concerts?

Mobile phones can often make concerts a bit less enjoyable, especially for the bunch of people in the audience more interested in experiencing the moment rather than broadcasting it.

At the same time, it might be a bit extreme to force the slice of the public too attached to their phones to let go of them. In modern-day concerts, a well-respected and slick-talking frontman can do that, but not always. It all depends on the situation really.

For these reasons, it is necessary to persist in finding new solutions to balance these different needs and points of view, while keeping a simple golden rule in mind: don’t let your freedom interfere with someone else’s freedom. In other words, don’t let your smartphone ruin the experience of your fellow concert-goers and your own.


While phones can’t actually HARM concerts, they do harm the experience of many concert-goers. Rather than just enjoying the experience and being there, people tend to document the experience, therefore, not actually relishing it.

It is for this very reason that many big artists and bands have a no-phone policy. Not only because it takes away from the experience but it can potentially harm ticket sales for future concerts as the mass content that will be released will probably make some not want to go in the future. It is always good to have a bit of mystery and excitement when you go to see your favorite act.

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

Leave a Comment

Leave a reply

Musician Wave