Why Would You Pay Several Hundred Dollars To Watch A Concert On A 3.7-Inch Screen?

Why Would You Pay Several Hundred Dollars To Watch A Concert On A 3.7-Inch Screen?

It seems you can’t go to a concert these days without somebody whipping out a smartphone for a quick bit of video shooting. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, but I just don’t get why that’s a particularly good idea.

To put this in context; I went to the second of Prince’s Sydney shows in his current Australian tour. Without spoilers; an awesome gig, but then I’ve seen his royal badness in concert before, so I (somewhat) knew what to expect. A mix of hits and eclectic stuff, but as a long-time fan the eclectic’s as much fun as anything else. As such, I’d spent a fairly serious amount of money (for a journalist’s salary) to take myself and my good lady out to Allphones Arena for the second gig; it would have been the first were I not busy that day checking out fake iPads in a different country.

Inevitably whenever you go to a concert these days, somebody takes out a mobile phone for a quick shoot. The rules that a given artist has over their images varies wildly, as does the enforcement at a venue. Personally, I’ve nothing against somebody taking a quick photo with a camera phone, because it’s not as though you’re going to get anything saleable in a photo sense; just a memento, really. It’s breaking the rules in most venues, but in a mild and largely innoffensive way, I would have said.

When phones — they weren’t even “smart” back then — first got camera optics installed, they were a cute thing; something acceptable for happy snaps in the pub if you didn’t care too much about colour balance, but little else. But today’s smartphones aren’t just still snappers; they’re video cameras as well, which means that at any concert — and Prince’s gig was no exception — you’ll see row upon row of folks staring at tiny screens, shooting the onscreen action.

There’s a copyright concern here — and Prince is notable at being an utter control freak when it comes to video shot of him — but that’s not what makes me puzzled.

Image: Nick Laham/Getty Images
I just don’t get it at a personal level.

Did I miss a memo somewhere, or was a badly shot — because you’re just using a smartphone, not a camera with proper light balance, zoom or optics — and terrible sounding video a good memento in somebody’s estimation? The sound is going to crash out, because you’re in a concert. The lighting is going to play havoc with your shot, as are the heads of the wildly dancing couple in front of you — this would have included me, by the way — and you’re going to miss things. Either you’re in the cheapest seats where you do get a full view of the stage, but the action might as well be coming from ants as from musical acts, or you’re closer in and less able to take in the action as a whole. Equally, if you’re only doing it for your “favourite song”, that means you’re missing the action that you’ve paid (in some cases) several hundred dollars to see! I’ve been to more than a few gigs where people appear to have tried to film the whole thing, which means they’ve missed out on a lot of the act they were there to see. Sure, event staff will sometimes try to bust them, but in a big crowd situation that’s more or less impossible to do to everybody. If you’re shooting video for the YouTube glory, this kind of thing gets pulled down all the time, so it’s not even really good for permanent bragging rights.

Like I said, I just don’t get it, but it’s clearly a happening thing. I’m not particularly offended to speak, of… just confused. Can somebody enlighten me, because I figure I had a better time seeing the whole show with my own eyes than the many folks around me watching a fraction of it on a tiny screen?
Lead Image: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images