Hard to keep a secret
In this everything-must-be-reported-within-seconds world, the recording and posting of concert footage sometimes has another inadvertent effect: The element of surprise when going to a live show is all but destroyed.
Years ago, fans didn't even have a clue what songs might be played at a concert unless a friend attended an earlier date and reported back. But sites such as www.setlist.fm now provide nightly set list updates for most major artists, while acts with the inclusive jam band mentality, such as the Dave Matthews Band, will keep a live running set list on their websites during each show.
Of course, fans have the option to ignore these sites, just as they can disregard any YouTube postings that expose the plane bursting into flames near the start of Roger Waters' "The Wall" show.
(Footage recorded at concerts and posted on YouTube is subject to a series of rules and safe harbors. Ultimately, the user uploading the content is responsible for assuring that he has the rights necessary to post the content. However, Marshall noted, "Unless a rights holder properly objects, YouTube has systems in place to recognize pretty well this type of copyrighted material, and they've figured out ways to monetize it. If they can't figure out a way to monetize, they may just block it.")
Still, it's a frustrating game for those on the planning end of major events.
Tony Clarke is an Atlanta-based tour manager who, for 20 years, has worked with various festivals and tours, including as production director for the Savannah Music Festival and the annual Wade Ford Summer Concert Series in Mableton, Ga.
He laments the days when "no audio/video recording" signs were prominent at live music events and remarked that even though an announcement is made at the start of the Savannah Music Festival to remind attendees that recording is prohibited, the request is frequently ignored.
But he finds the erosion of the overall fan experience even more exasperating.
"I recall a tour stop with an A-list artist that featured special effects that wowed the audience because they were never-before-seen effects," Clarke said. "Because of smartphone recordings and YouTube postings, the show lost its surprise element by the fourth date on the calendar."
Then again, there are those who view the availability of such visuals on sites such as YouTube as promotional opportunities for an artist to hype a show or new album.
As Oliver, the concertgoer, remarked, "No one can deny the convenience and good things about YouTube."
Challenge for musicians
But for all of the musicians who don't fret about fans illegally downloading music or posting portions of their concerts on social media sites, there are those who remind the public that the music business is exactly that -- a business.
Jesse T. Hall, a longtime Atlanta singer and trumpeter, said it infuriates him to hear his craft discussed as if it's merely a hobby.
"Just because it appears to be recreational to a lot of folks, a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears go into it. It's never a good thing to record any music without permission," he said.
While preventing concertgoers from recording copyrighted material seems to be greeted with resigned acceptance by most in the industry, there are some artists who are taking technological competition as a challenge.
"It's just part of the show now," said country star Jason Aldean. "If I see someone talking on a cell phone during a show, I'll stop the show and ask who they're talking to and remind them, 'Hey, there's a concert going on.' I take that as ammunition."
WHAT THEY SAY
We asked some other artists their thoughts about today's overwhelming smartphone culture and how it feels from their vantage point.
Jennifer Lopez: "People will be jumping up and down and screaming, and then all of a sudden, they'll just stop. And everybody is just still, holding up their phone and recording. It's kind of funny. It changes the concert experience a little bit because everybody wants to post it on their pages and YouTube and be the first one to put it out there. I feel like it's my job to engage them and make them forget about their phones for a little while."
Ryan Peake, guitarist, Nickelback: "I've been guilty of it and thinking, 'I've got to share this with someone and remember this.' So I take the video and it's never the same (as being there). But I have to be OK with people (recording). Of course I'm not OK if they catch a really embarrassing moment."
Barry Manilow: "I actually don't see it much. I hear it goes on, but from my point of view, my audiences are always very good and receptive."
Joe Perry, guitarist, Aerosmith: "I tend not to pick my nose as much because it's going to end up on YouTube. But other than that, if you start thinking about all of the different ways you're impacting people, that can affect the show. We learned a long time ago that you just have to go out there and do what you do best and don't take anything for granted."
Melissa Ruggieri writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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