What Is the Real Impact of Smartphone Technology at Your Music Event?

As anyone who has attended a live music event in the past few years will testify, the sight of swaying lighters has quickly been replaced with the sight of glowing smartphones instead.

As an event organiser, your role is to allow guests to enjoy their time in your space – whether that means being glued to their phone or not. But at what point does this technology stop being a distraction, and start impacting the success of your event?

In this article we will look at a few of the smartphone intrusions to a live music environment, and how they might be a threat – or even a benefit! – to your next concert.

Photos and video recording

Whether it’s taking photos, sending out Tweets, or recording Snapchat and Instagram stories; no event is truly experienced these days until it’s uploaded online. And when it comes to live music concerts, this can even mean recording the entire event.

The downside to this overzealous recording comes at the cost of both the other audience guests, and the performer. Being stuck behind someone blocking your view of the stage is frustrating for a fellow audience member; whilst the performer will be both distracted and disheartened at a crowd of people more concerned with getting great footage than enjoying their show.

Unless you are prepared to enforce a ‘no photography’ rule at your venue, then you will need to work with the photography and video recording, not against. Request from your audience that any footage from the event uses a specific tag – that way you can also share and even use some of their footage for marketing purposes after the show.

However, for more intimate shows, smartphone photos or video recording will be distracting. Consider adopting a no photography rule for small live events, but note that you will be uploading plenty of content for them to share – just make sure you’re clear in advertising your social media handles. That way your audience members can seek out your official video content and share.

*TIP: If you decide to go down that path, ensure you have great, high-quality footage uploaded to your Instagram or Facebook pages quickly for fans to share immediately after the event. You can find out how to achieve that, here.

Social media sharing

Is there anything more frustrating than buying tickets to a music event, only to have it ruined by someone spoiling the surprises from the show? Whilst there seems to be an unspoken rule against ‘spoiler alerts’ for TV shows online, the same doesn’t seem to apply for live music concerts.

You can be assured that this disgruntled guest won’t just turn on the person uploading the footage –  they will also blame you, the event organiser. You’ll be perceived as ‘giving away the experience for free’. It is therefore extremely important that you closely monitor your social media pages – including YouTube – in the days surrounding the event or the tour.

Whilst great photography and short videos can work in your favour to create hype and anticipation, longer recordings (think 30 minutes to an hour) can actually fall under a more serious legal predicament.

Concert Blogger notes the follow legal restrictions that surround recording and distributing a concert:

(1) the copyright in the musical composition, usually controlled by the publisher;

(2) the copyright in the lyrics, also usually controlled by the publisher;

(3) the copyright in the performance, usually controlled by the label;

(4) the band’s right of publicity;

(5) trademarks owned by the band;

(6) contractual rights.

So, be diligent in the monitoring of extended social media content pertaining to your event. It can be far more serious than a ‘spoiler alert’ – it could be considered a breach of your legal duty to the artists.

Interacting with other guests

These days, most live music events will have a Facebook page and a platform-agnostic hashtag used to create discussion spaces for the event or the artist.

These can be extremely useful for people looking to buy or sell tickets at sold out events, discuss transport information, ask questions about the set, upload their images or videos from the concert, or even just interact with other fans. As an event organiser, it is wise for you to set this page up yourself in order to have greater control over the content being loaded.

The positive from these pages is gathering together fans in a way that you can quickly and easily funnel them into your brand or venue database, to contact for future events. Ensure you set up the Facebook page as soon as the event is announced in order to ensure it becomes the main touchpoint for your audience.

However, the downside to these pages can be online bullying, illegal ticket sales, or negative publicity around your event. Make sure that you have a social media manager overseeing these interactions to shut down any undesirable interactions.

Interacting with the venue

At the time of your live music event, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. From long lines and wait times, delayed sets, overcrowded venues, or a cash-only bar; your audience will always find something to complain about! And in the age of social media, those grumbles and gripes can be made very public, very quickly.

Your venue social media pages should have the settings set to private posts, meaning that those who ‘like’ your page still can’t post on the Facebook wall. This gives you greater control over the type of content that will appear to the public.

Having someone in charge of direct messages will also empower you to solve audience issues quickly and directly. For example, if someone is having difficulty entering the venue with a ticket issue, rather than leave a public complaint, they can contact you directly and maybe even solve it on the spot.

Connecting with the artist

Thanks to apps like Shazam, audience members can now find the name and artist of their favourite song immediately and download to their smartphone using Spotify, iTunes, Tidal or any of the other music programs.

This is one of the real positives that come out of combining technology with a live experience. By strengthening the relationship between audience member and performer, you are enhancing their ability to connect, and therefore adding to the success of your event. In years to come, this kind of experience-changing technology is only set to grow.

In our previously published Britepaper, 2017 Music Trends, smartphone technology like VR has been flagged as a major player in improved concert experiences.

“Technology is key to bringing creative visions to life — though it’s hard to predict which technology will be most instrumental,” says the report.

“A number of experts think virtual reality (VR) will be the tech that enables immersive elements at shows. With VR, every fan could feel like they’re on stage during the performance — whether they’re really at a sponsorship booth at a festival like Coachella or at home on the couch.”

Work with the technology, not against it.

As the old adage goes: ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join em.’ Emerging smartphone technology is fast becoming a staple in all entertainment experiences, music included. Younger generations want to record the memories from the event and share their concert experience with others.

If managed closely, this technology can work to your benefit: it’s great marketing material, and social media posts are like your own personal (unpaid!) hype team. You can even incorporate social media platforms into your event experience, like creating your own Snapchat geofilter.

But if not monitored, allowing your audience’s free reign over how your event is presented and discussed online can be a potential threat to your reputation and event.

When considering your next live music event, make sure a serious consideration of smartphone technology is involved. Will you allow photography? Who will be in charge of your social media pages? Will you have an alert created for any posts tagging your event?

But above all, workshop ways you can work with the latest trends, and not against them.

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Mark Kelliher