City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Friday Riffs: Do you record concerts on your smartphone?

Is this you at a concert?

Is this you at a concert?

I’m sure you’ve seen it.

 You know, that person in front of you at a concert, blocking your view of Chris Martin because it’s much more important to film the entire concert through a smartphone lens than to actually watch and experience the show.

 I go to a lot of concerts. This annoys me. Greatly. It’s rude to the artist and to the audience. And those of you who think it’s cool to whip out your iPad – a device the width of a placemat – and wave it in the air because you HAVE to get that footage of the Jacksons to do…what with exactly? well, there’s a special set of expletives reserved for you.

 And that leads me to today’s question: I need some honest folks to tell me if you’ve ever recorded a concert — particularly large portions of a show – on your smartphone or iPad, and if so, why.

 You know how I feel. Now I want to hear your side. Besides, I am genuinely curious about what you do with the recording, if you realize or care that you’re possibly interfering with the experience of those around you and if, when you look back at that grainy, volume-distorted video a week later, you don’t wish that you had watched and absorbed the moment the first time, rather than viewing it through a lens the size of a thimble.

 This is for an upcoming story, so please make sure to include your correct email when you register so I can contact you if necessary. Or email me at

 Thanks – and happy concert-going this weekend if you’re heading to The Dukes of September, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, the B-52s, Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj…or wherever the music spirit leads you.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

32 comments Add your comment

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Virginia Cooper

July 20th, 2012
9:49 am

That is why I don’t ever pay the outrageous prices for floor seats. I was lucky at a Keith Urban concert and got a seat in front of a railing. Yes, the filming is getting ridiculous. I agree – how can you enjoy the actual performance? This also applies to all of the parents who go to their kid’s performances. Do you really think your child wants to look out into the audience and not be able to see their proud parents’ faces? Just enjoy the moment!

Johnny Comelately

July 20th, 2012
9:57 am

Agreed. This is pretty lame. I’ve always silently judged, rolled my eyes, and assumed it was someone who just got a smart phone and didn’t yet realize that a cell phone camera and mic is no match for the low light and high volume levels of a music venue.


July 20th, 2012
3:22 pm

I too attend a lot of shows…I videod once and realized it was worthless then deleted it. It is rude and blocks the view of others. This is right up there with making others wait while you back into your parking space. Just plain inconsiderate.


July 20th, 2012
3:48 pm

I, too, am an avid concertgoer and I think it is perfectly fine to record on my phone. First of all, I feel if you’ve earned that good spot you have for your perfect view, then you can do whatever you want with it. If the people behind you can’t see thats their problem and they should find a better spot. I don’t think people record concerts to play them back and watch them but to possibly capture those live moments you dont want to forget. A freestyle or the band just engaging with the fans.


July 20th, 2012
10:59 pm

I sometimes shoot videos or photos w/ my real camera, but seldom the phone. I share them on a band’s website where we discuss shows in faraway places.

I agree that shooting w/ a phone looks dumb, but it does not interfere w/ my enjoyment if someone else is doing it (at least they’re paying attention and not yakking). Sometimes, a special moment is captured on a phone. See this Vince Gill playing Duane Allman’s guitar. I am grateful that someone shot it.


July 20th, 2012
11:15 pm

I quit Facebook because my enjoyment of Sting’s recent Chastain show was marred by idiots filming the concert and posting links to their Facebook status. It was annoying, rude and quite ridiculous given the fact that the quality if those videos was so poor even Batman wouldn’t have been able to see them!

david c

July 21st, 2012
11:07 am

@Hello-what a selfish, self serving c##t you must be. If I’m sitting in a reserved seat in behind your sorry self, where am I supposed to move? We both paid the same money, but you believe you are superior because you got into the system quicker. I guess after 45 years of concert going, this is what it has come to. You probably drive like you are the only one on the road. And lines are beyond you. Ad nauseum.


July 21st, 2012
5:38 pm

Eventually you are going to see some fights break out as a result of this juvenile activity. Especially in a samll venue like a club. Some brief footage is ok, but not the majority of the concert. And on an I-pad. Please

I am quite sure it is a distraction to the artist. I would not be surprised one day the artist asks(not to politely) to ease up on the video taping.


July 21st, 2012
7:11 pm

This sort of thing is poor etiquette and rude to those around you trying to see the stage. It’s also disrespectful to the artists.

Johnny Comelately sums my feelings up perfectly.

@B* I thought I was the only person with the backing into parking spaces pet peeve! That mess is plain rude.


July 22nd, 2012
9:18 am

I have been going to concerts for over 30 years. I have audio recorded most of those concerts. Bands such as Widespread Panic, Phish, Black Crowes encourage you to audio record the shows. The benefit of recording a show is to keep the memory alive. The bands have a section at their concert for audio recorders. You will probably never notice an audio recorder at a concert. However you are always distracted by the jackass holding up his/her cellphone to record a snippet of a song. This is why every band disallows video recording. It is distracting to the band and the audience. It’s hard to see the stage with a 100 lighted cell phones in your way. Cellphones have the worst microphones in the world. Please stick to audio recordings. They sound 200% better and do not upset the audience.


July 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

To Hello….you are an idiot and I bet your friends think so too. To all those that think recording these shows are ok you are doing something illegal. Do they not inform the concertgoers this is an illegal practice and an infringement. To all those people who think it is cool to back into a space instead of pulling straight in, what are you thinking. That ranks right up there with the stupid look of guys wearing their pants halfway down their ass and sideways hats on their head. And you people wonder why you can’t get a real job.


July 22nd, 2012
12:52 pm

The last concert I went to was long ago when I still lived in Tucson. Fortunately, the only portable communication devices available way back then were pagers and short wave radios. So we didn’t have those problems, and Rush was great!


July 22nd, 2012
1:09 pm

Those who record, in my opinion, have no consideration for those around them, whose view of the show may be obstructed, and no respect for the artists who ask that the shows not be filmed. It’s all about numero uno! The new American way. And the reason this country is going into decline.

Tony C

July 22nd, 2012
2:04 pm

As a tour manager it is very annoying to look out in the crowd and see multiple smart phones taping the performance. It’s a distraction not only to the people behind and beside you but to the artist who looks out and sees someone taping the performance. Gone are the days of “No video or audio recording” signs that greeted the audience at the door in years past. Even venues that have these signs posted have a hard time enforcing because of multiple offenders. I recall a tour stop with an A-list artist that featured special effects that wowed the audience with never seen lighting specials. Because of smart phone recording and youtube post the show lost is surprise element by the 4th date on the calendar.

Biff Pocoroba

July 22nd, 2012
3:33 pm

I’d rather be behind someone filming the show then the people who come just to talk to their friends.. I don’t understand why people pay $40 for tickets and then just come and talk for 2 hours. Just go to Starbucks and hang out for the night if that is what you want to do. These are probably the same people that have ruined movies too. They come and just play with their Iphones and light up the whole theater the whole time and ruin it for everyone else.

Melissa Ruggieri

July 22nd, 2012
4:03 pm

Biff, you might need to be my new best friend. I’m an avid movie-goer, but the beacons of light that pop up throughout the theater (and people think they aren’t disturbing anyone around them??) are starting to prevent me from going. If whatever text you need to check is THAT important, then why are you at the movies and not taking care of whatever is in said important text? Drives me batty.
Thanks for all of the comments so far, everyone. And please feel free to continue posting them.


The Truth

July 22nd, 2012
5:07 pm

Hello – if you are ever in front of me at a concert, don’t be surprised to find yourself being punched repeatedly, and having your recording device destroyed in the process…I have a sneaking suspicion your antics won’t be tolerated.


July 22nd, 2012
5:37 pm

Melissa — I strongly disagree with you on several points.

First of all, you should have said smartphone, not just Iphone. Some of us are NOT Apple fans and we choose to have other smartphone options other than Iphones. I happen to love my Blackberry. Let’s not assume that everyone in the world worships at the altar of Apple.

Secondly, I have never been bothered by somebody recording some video clips from a concert. Sometimes, to be honest, it tells me whether an artist is worth going to see, by going to youtube and viewing recent footage and clips that people have recorded over the last year or so. You can either see that the band has lost it and isn’t very good live, or that they still know how to rock, to interact with fans, and put on a top-notch live performance. I have been to over 100 concerts over the last 15-20 years, and I’ve never been bothered or had any problems with somebody recording some clips from the show.

I do wonder about the Ipad thing — I have never seen anyone take a bulky, tablet-sized thing into a concert. Who on earth does that? I have only seen some smartphones raised up from time to time, and like I said, I’ve never had an issue. Personally, I have a MUCH bigger problem with alcohol sales at concerts — it causes people to constantly go back-and-forth down aisles, clog up the concourses with beer lines, and it leads to a great deal of irresponsible, impolite, rude, crude and just dumb behavior… THAT interferes more with concert enjoyment than anything else.

I will be honest — I did not own a smartphone until last year (I never had the need and had a perfectly good paid-for cell phone that did all I wanted (text and calls) from 2004-2010. In early 2011, I got my Blackberry, and I will admit that since then, I have recorded a few live songs at various concerts over the last 18 months. I don’t block anyone’s view, I don’t record whole shows, and I don’t use it at every concert — just a few favorites. It’s nice to have a clip of your favorite rock band playing your favorite song and seeing and feeling the audience interaction and crowd energy. It’s a cool reminder of “Hey, I was there and I loved that moment.”

As for the legality, as long as nobody sells and profits from a few song clips, what is the harm? Like I said, I have often seen a clip and bought a ticket JUST because i saw on youtube how great the live experience was — that that was BECAUSE of somebody’s smartphone recording. It should be embraced as more of a marketing thing — why don’t these artists tell fans to upload their best clips onto the band’s website? The band picks the best ones, puts them on a special page, and sends the owners of the top recordings a set of concert tickets and CDs and merchandise. DUH. Why has nobody thought of this?

If musicians really have an issue with it, here is what you do. Record every live concert you ever do — EVERY single one. You then offer it that night or the next day in mass production for $10… that way, I’d have the great memory of the entire live performance in my hometown for an affordable cost AND some of you pretentious music freaks would chill out about this “terrible” affliction of people — God forbid — ENJOYING and preserving the memories of a great concert experience.

This is making a mountain out of a molehill. Live music should be shared, enjoyed, cherished and remembered — it’s not ALL about the money and it’s not a sacred, hallowed religious experience — it’s a rock concert for God’s sake. This past week, the stupid drunk women at the table in front of me at the Blues Traveler-Barenaked Ladies concert were a helluva lot more annoying than the person on my row shooting a few songs for posterity.

Let’s get a clue people — shoot a few of your favorite songs, share with a friend who couldn’t make it to the concert, and just re-live and enjoy the moment… ignore what the killjoys are saying. Long live rock!


July 22nd, 2012
7:10 pm

Boy the RIAA propoganda machine is alive and well. Iphone quality reeks, but should that prevent someone someone recording the “moment”. I think there are FAR worse things out there, concert prices, Cost of CD’s and general artist stupidity into new technology that instead of using that, WHINE because they don’t get their cut. Please get more intellectually qualified folks writing for the AJC that understand real issues..


July 22nd, 2012
7:18 pm

Melissa, it’s just semantics-some call it “capturing the moment” and everyone else calls it piracy.
I would be willing to bet that the people that tape also have a few hundred or so free songs that they pirated off the internet. It’s also safe to say that the people who tape live shows have never written, recorded, published or played live music themselves.

Keith Strawn

July 22nd, 2012
7:19 pm

Thank you, Melissa. I wonder about the impact technology is having on our civility and societal courtesy, whether it is someone doing what you described, or someone talking on the phone at the teller window, grocery check-out, etc.

Kam Phong as Chin Ho

July 22nd, 2012
8:16 pm

I don’t attend concerts anymore because the artists have priced themselves out of (my) business and because the dregs of society seem to gravitate to concerts in order to display their boorish, drunken, rude behavior on a grand scale.


July 22nd, 2012
8:50 pm

I love it when people get good footage on their phones. Just look on youtube for ChesterCopperPot and all the Dave Matthews Band videos that he has done. Grant it I am a huge DMB fan and love to see a lot of the concerts that I am unable to attend. When people use their smart phones nowadays, and most of them have decent 720p video cameras in them, and you get someone like CopperPot to sync audio and video feeds from multiple users, I think the end footage is awesome. He has even spliced together an entire show based on peoples footage that they upload to him, and he does a great job at it too.
It has never annoyed me at the many concerts I attend. And the video footage that people are getting today is definitely not as grainy and bad as a few years ago. No more trying to sneek a small digital camera into the venue when you can just use your phone.

Attentive Driver

July 22nd, 2012
10:12 pm

What’s wrong with backing in? You either have to back in or back out, unless it’s a pull thru, and no one backs into those. It’s also safer to back in than back out because your view is better and you’re more aware of what’s immediately around you. Unless of course you have your head up it like I suspect the complainers usually do. I’ll bet the complainers are the same jerks that honk their horn and won’t let someone back out of a blind space. Also bet they couldn’t back into a space if you paid them. In other words, dipshi(p)s. Just like concert smartphone recorders.


July 22nd, 2012
10:28 pm

I’ve been to many concerts and I’ve used my iPhone to record a few snippets here and there. It’s no different than taking photos. You’re being a little unreasonable. If you were at any public event that meant a lot to you — a relative’s graduation, a political rally, a sporting event — would you not want to capture the experience with a snapshot? Some people can’t afford to regularly attend concerts; you never if someone gave them a ticket, or if they won it and might not get that chance again. Why not shoot a few seconds of video to preserve that memory?

I’ve shot pictures and videos at concerts many times. There are ways to be discreet about it to avoid obstructing others’ views. Simply hold it at your own eye or chest level and it wouldn’t be any more in the way than your body. I’ve been surrounded by people recording as well. It’s hardly a distraction. I just don’t see how it’s that serious — it’s a concert, not the symphony; you’re supposed to be up on your feet the whole time dancing around and enjoying it anyway.

Beside that, monstrous businesses like YouTube wouldn’t exist without people’s POV vids. No one can deny the convenience of and good things about YouTube.

I think the crowd’s decision to record is based on the energy/atmosphere of the show. Generally, the more hype the show is, the less uptight the audience is. I sat in front of two couples at a John Legend show at the Fox once. They complained that my friend, the man next to us and I were in the way because we were standing up. It was an uptempo song and a lot of other people were up, jammin’ which is normal, too, so we felt it and got up to dance. So I hope you’re not one of those. If you plan to be seated the whole time, you should probably just stay home and listen to the CD.

Lighten up. Let the music move you and everybody else around you will be invisible :)


July 22nd, 2012
11:25 pm

It’s my phone and my ticket. Bite me.

Melissa Ruggieri

July 22nd, 2012
11:42 pm

Jeff – I never used the term iPhone. I think our producers might have used it on the homepage, likely for space reasons. But everything in my post refers to smartphones, not iPhones.
I am a proud Android owner. If you really want to get me ranting, just ask my feelings about Apple :)


Melissa Ruggieri

July 22nd, 2012
11:50 pm

Edge – I am well-aware of the myriad problems plaguing the music industry. This post wasn’t designed to address all of them and I wasn’t asking readers to name their complaint, but to share their feelings about one topic – recording concerts on their smartphones. The issues you bring up are, of course, valid, and perhaps will turn into a discussion at another time.



July 23rd, 2012
10:13 am

These rock stars are making millions! Concert ticket prices are outrageous! Forget about buying a beer or a tee-shirt. Kudos to all creative enough to obtain lasting memories using a digital device. I go to allot of concerts too, and spend big bucks, just because i have fun, and i dont mind paying $7.50 a beer and dancing to the music love. But im not hating on the kid with the iphone. YOUR STUCK UP MELISSA RUGGIERI!


July 23rd, 2012
1:10 pm

Jeff, i’m glad you’ve FINALLY decided to move ou tof the STONE AGES, which explains some of your assinie answers. You missed the point with the Iphone, and why shouldn’t shows be recorded? Is that a rhetorical question?????? Let me switch it on you for a minute…let’s take your job, WHATEVER that is, and it’s voluntarily done by someone for FREE just out of the blue. Where would that leave you? A** out and out of a job! It ticks me to hear people talk about music/musicians and what they do like it’s a hobby. Well IT AIN”T!!! It’s how they/we make a living, just because it APPEARS to be recreational to a lot of folk, a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears goes into it, so it’s NEVER a good thing to record ANY music without permission. And your view of music explains why it doesn’t bother you to see people at concerts with smartphones recording…you don’t have a view!

Melissa Ruggieri

July 23rd, 2012
3:28 pm

Fairburn – If having respect for the musicians onstage and wanting to experience a show without viewing it through a lens makes me stuck up, then guilty as charged!