is taking concert videos ok?

Here’s something that many concert-goers are familiar with—concert videos. The person who records every single moment of a show on their phone (or other recording device for the old school among us). Or even just whole songs.

It appears to be a source of consternation among other concert-goers as well. A selection from Twitter…

Sometimes people are even a bit self-aware about it:

And some people have been out there doing something about it:

can i take concert videosHowever, there are people who will take long concert videos and are quite happy to do so. I sometimes think that maybe they’re missing out on the actual experience of a live show. Do they ever feel like they’re missing the show by spending so much time watching it through a screen? Does it defeat the purpose of seeing a show live?

Then again, I also understand the impulse of wanting to document your experience and make sure people know about it on social media. Despite seeming curmudgeon up until this point, I am, in fact, a millennial. So “millennial” that I struggle to spell the word without spell check (two l’s, two n’s). However, there seems to be a point where you’re giving a taste in order to induce FOMO in all your less fortunate friends turns into you just giving the entire experience away. Then there’s no FOMO.

At some point though, spending the majority of a concert behind the lens of your camera might be causing you to miss out the show you paid to see. You might want to have that film to relive the concert later, but during the time you spend making sure you get a good, steady shot, you might find yourself missing out on the actual experience. Which would be a huge bummer.

people taking concert videosFilming the entirety or the vast majority of a concert might also be legally problematic. Several artists have gone out of their way to insist that their fans not capture their entire performance on video, sometimes going as far as banning them entirely. The trend started with the late Prince, but has also been picked up by artists like Childish Gambino, Guns N’ Roses, Alicia Keys, and The Lumineers.

By filming large portions of the show and doing what many people do, posting them online later, that’s a copyright violation, for the same reason you’re not allowed to have your phone out during movies. For the legal concert footage you do find online, it’s possible that it was created at some expense by somebody who actually bought permission and controls distribution.

So here’s what I’m coming around to. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about their concert videos by just asking if they feel like they’re missing out on the experience. They’ve probably heard that before. But when it comes down to it, it’s a legal gray area and it might end up hurting the artist, which I think any concert-lover would say they don’t want to hurt the artist they paid to go out and see live.

Here’s the guideline that I’m approaching. Get your phone/camera out and grab a few seconds for your social media or just posterity. Even better, just grab a good photo. Do it multiple times at key moments if you want. But if you find yourself experiencing the show from behind your phone screen because you’re filming large chunks of the concert, you might not get the full power of the live music before you. But whether you believe that or not, make sure what you’re doing is covered legally and you’re not hurting the artist on the other side of that lens.

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