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Yes, smartphones should be banned at gigs

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There’s nothing more irritating than going to a concert that you’ve been really looking forward to, only to be stuck watching it through the screens of other’s mobile phones.

With the rapid evolution of cameras and smartphones, you can now take high-quality pictures and videos of any concert you attend and share it in real-time with friends and fellow fans. But whilst they may provide a lovely memory to look back on, ultimately, these gadgets are a complete nuisance at gigs. Why not put the phone away and live in the here and now?

The debate of whether smartphones should be allowed at gigs isn't a new argument in the music industry, and it’s safe to say there are extremely divisive opinions regarding this. Earlier this year, Jack White banned smartphones at his live events in order to improve the experience of those who had bought tickets, stating that it would provide a "100% human experience." However, a complete ban is yet to be introduced, with some declaring that the idea is completely unrealistic.  

Recently, the argument has yet again been thrust into the limelight as top lighting designer LeRoy Bennett has condemned the use of smartphones at live events. Not only is it damaging to the atmosphere and detrimental to others’ experiences, but he believes that it also has a lasting impact on musicians, who often view poor footage from their concerts across social media and become critical of their own performance. He argues that this is incredibly unfair on artists who work hard to perform to a consistently high standard for fans, and also on those who are responsible for the act’s lighting, staging, and all other elements which go into live events.

Using a smartphone at a gig may seem like the natural thing to do, but it’s important to think about the negative impact that it is having on others at the venue, including the act. Because of this, I’m not surprised that some bands are turning to external companies to provide phone pouches which automatically lock when an event starts. This may seem like a harsh measure, but the idea actually makes a lot of sense. It’s user-friendly as the pouches allow mobile phone owners to have their gadget on them at all times, though they are unable to cause a negative impact on those around them. This is a really innovative idea, and in instances where acts have chosen to use the pouches, ticket-holders have afterwards commented on the "refreshing" experience it provided.

In my opinion, now is a better time than ever to be evaluating the overuse of smartphones at gigs, and the music industry is certainly well-equipped to act against the detrimental effect that they have on other fans, and even performers. I know that I’d be more than happy to lock my phone away for the length of a set if it meant that myself and everyone around me was guaranteed a far more enjoyable experience.

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