AM 760 KFMB - Talk Radio Station - San Diego, CA - Virtual Cell Phone Ban at Select Concerts

The Brett Winterble Show

Virtual Cell Phone Ban at Select Concerts

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The biggest worry we had as concert-goers was a big fight breaking out and someone getting hurt as a result. Perhaps it was more about a heckler in the audience giving the artist a bad time during songs/sets and that person had to be restrained and/or removed from the venue. Now, music artists and bands are looking to team together and virtually ban the use of cell phones during a concert? This is quite the revelation and epiphany that has a number of questions.

This boiling point that's been reached with the likes of Guns N' Roses and Alicia Keys is an interesting one. Why do we whip out our cell phones at a concert, stand-up comedy set or something of the like? We want to capture the moment. We want proof that we were there. We want to share part of the experience with others. We want to preserve that experience with video of that song/set list to show how amazing (or deplorable) it was. These actions are primarily is to gain likes, comments, shares and clicks on whatever the site may be.

Alicia Keys and GNR both recently had concerts where they declared their concerts as "phone-free events," and that doesn't mean turning on airplane mode. If you were attending the show, you had to put your phone in a particular pouch upon entering and they would lock the pouch for you. If you needed to make a call or shoot a text to someone or post something via social media, you'd be directed to an area outside the venue but still be able to return (at least, I think you would), but only after you put your phone back in said pouch.

Now, if you're reading this, more than likely you have a smartphone and/or know someone close to you that has one. It's an addicting piece of hardware with software and applications that are just as addictive. We treat our phones like we would our own children (most of us, if we didn't already have any). We take our cell phones with us nearly everywhere we go. We want to sort-of document everything or use it as a reference for whatever the reason may be. One person, when quoted by the Washington Post, had an understandable reply to this Alicia Keys "phone-free" concert: If he had to put his phone in a locker, that would've pissed him off, but this pouch thing is okay.

Let's look at this objectively. God forbid anything like Paris or Orlando were to repeat itself and you needed to notify an emergency contact that something terrible was happening. What if, for some reason, you couldn't open up that pouch without approval from the staff or you needed some sort of contraption to dislodge the phone from the pouch? These are crucial moments and I'm fairly certain this was an important question raised with artists and venues alike. Nobody wants to endure that in a time of crisis.

Are these artists and venues infringing upon some sort of subtext within our First Amendment rights by silencing our use of the cell phones? Perhaps. However, let's look at this other big reason why they want to put a "soft ban" on phones during concerts: copyright infringement. You record a video of a song, or the whole show (if you record the whole show, you just wasted your time/money), and you post it on social media. Are you posting this music/video for profit? Yes and no. You're not gaining any sort of monetary profit, but in this day and age, social media likes, shares, downloads, comments, and whatnot can lead to getting paid for such work. I also understand and respect the beef artists have with this, from a non-monetary perspective. You're giving access to a somewhat private show for which many others didn't pay to go see. This is, in a sense, "exclusive" material for fans and patrons who attended the show, regardless whether the set lists are the same throughout said artists' tours.

Here's another question to ask yourself. If you're reading this, you've probably attended a concert or two. Whether you've gone straight to the box office to avoid convenience fees on Ticketmaster, LiveNation, or some other ticket outlet, have you ever read the Terms and Conditions? You may not know, and I don't have any way to verify this, but there might also be some sort of clause in the "contract" you sign in purchasing the tickets. This clause may legally preclude you from recording any videos and/or taking photos without the expressed written consent of the artist, venue and anyone else associated with putting together the event. Conversely, how would a venue or an artist be able to regulate or police this sort of behavior? Are you going to have security check the personal/business cell phones of every single person in attendance before they leave for the night? That could be considered a Fourth Amendment right pertaining to invasion of privacy without a search warrant. (I'm not trying to get political here, but it's a fair argument).

Additionally, forget recording the artists themselves for a moment. Why have we become a culture that focuses on having to document every single thing that happens at a concert, or any other mass-attended event for that matter? Let's say a gentleman or lady wants to get a little intoxicated via a couple drinks and starts dancing, whether very well or terribly along with singing incoherently. You know there's that collective of people who want to put that person on social media in a disparaging fashion. You can't even get a little lit without worrying if you're going to be ridiculed by a bunch of trolls the very next day, if not that very night.

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