The whole point of live music, if you ask me, is to be a part of a tribe. It’s to live in a moment with an artist and their music and the rest of the crowd. That’s why I say a true music fan’s phone is in his pocket at a show.
As soon as that phone comes out and starts filming or snapping photos, the user is in his own bubble, taking a slice of the experience and saving it for himself. He’s left the tribe, and worse, the phone is held up, blocking someone’s view. The blue glow irritates those behind, and for what? So you can share a Vine of someone’s song? Lame.
This show isn’t about you. It’s about us.
I’m kind of off the reservation on this one. I didn’t ask the rest of the Set.fm team if I could write it. Hell, I don’t even know if it’ll get posted, but this is something I feel strongly about.
Now, you might say “But James, you write for a company that markets an iPhone app made specifically to record shows.” You’re absolutely right, I do. That might seem contradictory, but it isn’t for two reasons. One, our app is meant to be used unobtrusively, and two, it’s meant to be used by the artist or venue, a.k.a. the people who are bringing you the moment you’re supposed to be having with the tribe. Clearly they know what they’re doing in putting on that show, or you wouldn’t have shown up in the first place.
Incidentally, and I’m just throwing this out there, we also have an app that helps you find Set.fm artists playing near you. Im just saying: check it out. It’s free and it loves you.
Where was I? Oh yes. Keep your phone in your pocket at the show and let the artist work their magic, I say. You put on pants. You took a train or a car or a donkey — maybe all three — to get to the venue. You’re investing some of the precious moments of the only life you’ll ever have in this show. Don’t blow it on an overblown calculator. Keep your phone in your pocket.
Stephen Thompson wrote about this issue for NPR’s All Songs Considered. In that article, which I highly recommend, he says:
But, as with any human interaction, the best moments in life and music happen when everyone involved is fully plugged in to the experience — and, by extension, unplugged from everything else.
Well said, Mr. Thompson. Now I must distract the rest of the Set.fm crew and publish this article before they get wind of it. Look, guys! Over there! A puppy!