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No Cameras!

For the past few months, I've noticed an alarming trend when going to concerts: signs screaming: "No cameras/video during show!" You might recall I complained about the issue when I saw Def Leppard and Billy Idol awhile back. Just two weeks ago, there was a sign on the front of the Metro Centre that warned against taking photos during the Motley Crue concert. The rule was blanket - it applied to every act on the bill.

What gives?

Why do bands care if fans use non-professional cameras and lenses to take a few photos of a fun night? Professional musicians are celebrities and we're the paying customer. If I shuck out $3 or $300 dollars to see a band live, I expect to be able to take a photo. I am very blessed that I am given photo passes to capture images of concerts so I can share with you. What about the rest of the arena?

During the Motley Crue show in Illinois, security was literally walking up and down aisles, looking for cameras. Whenever a rouge flash illuminated the dark, the guards actually shined a flashlight in the "guilty" fan's face. No, I'm not kidding.

At first I wondered if cameras were banned because the Motley show had a general admission pit. If someone was dumb enough to throw their camera, it could cause some bodily harm. The camera would also completely shatter, thus making the owner (and thrower) look like a real idiot.

Most festivals have huge general admission areas. I've never been to one yet that didn't allow cameras. It just seems like recently indoor venues are cracking down.

I wonder if it is the band or the venue?

Surely it must be the band. I have to ask: do Motley, AC/DC, Def Leppard, George Michael or any of them actually think a fan will snap a good enough photo from a small camera to sell to Rolling Stone or Spin without their permission? I really don't think so. Even with a professional camera, it takes many, many shots to get something really good. Yes, even professionals shoot duds. It happens.

I can live with the security checks. We live in a very unsafe world and I'd rather not have someone bring an Uzi into the concert arena, thank you very much. I have a problem with all the extraneous restrictions, "no cameras" being one of them. Maybe bands don't like their videos popping up on YouTube. Funny thing, I bet Kate Winslet doesn't like it when People captures her buying Starbucks while wearing a track suit. It happens and this is life. I'm not saying musicians don't have rights, because that's just not true. You'd be hard pressed to find someone fight harder than me when it comes to illegal downloading. Still, I'm paying to attend a show. I'm showing support but I also expect to be entertained. For me, that show involves being able to snap a couple pictures. Moreover, it's not even all about the band. When bands/venues institute a no camera policy, they are also robbing fans of the ability to take pictures with friends. Finally, as ticket prices continue to rise and the average convenience fee attached to said ticket is usually 20% of the face value, there must be a value-add. Stripping rights from fans only further alienates the ticket buying audience. Enough bad experiences and fans will stop going to shows, no matter the band. It's just economics. People don't remember what you said but they do remember how you treated them. This is true in all aspects of life: both personal and professional.

Reader Comments (13)

I couldn't agree more.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPlainJane
Many years ago i went to see tigertailz in concert and i had my camera with me - i got alot of great shots of the band and Pepsi (RIP mate) actually took my camera from me and took some pics himself - quite a while later i ended up sending them some of the pics and they used a couple for promos.
Not all bands are so anal, and not all venues are nazi's. But it is alot worse these days - you would think they wouldnt mind but im sure its all down to the cash nowadays.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred6ixx
That's the way it's always been. They are more anal about it now, because the bands are sensitive to how much a youtube video can do - good and bad. If in 1986, I'd seen a raw video of just how bad Motley was live, I would've never paid to see them.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSt. Ayre
Wouldn't this rule be impossible to enforce? I'd say about 8 out of 10 people have a cellphone camera these days. So do they confiscate your phone also? I could see the point if some average Joe snapped an awesomely bad shot and submitted it to Rolling Stone or some other music mag. But what magazine is going to give their attention to a nobody? It sounds like a good way to kill live music entertainment.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIrv
My opinion, so what if I give a photo to an online site or's publicity for the band! At least someone is writing about them! I love bands like King's X who encourage the fans to get involved and spread the buzz, that's what music is all about to me.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJay
I saw a band called Stone Gods live recently, I was in the front row, and no-one gave a crap about cameras, in-fact, I have a brilliant shot of the singer leaning over the barrier looking straight into my camera.
What harm can it do?
That rule is absolute bollocks.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucifer
That is odd that no cameras were allowed at this Crue show. At Cruefest, they wanted fans to take pictures. I wonder if this was a rule of the venue and not the bands.

I hate that rule as much as you do. I want to bring my camera to shows. I figure it takes about 10 crappy pictures to get one good one. I don't use flash, so I don't intrude on the band's performance. The only place that has denied me up to this point was Annie's for a club show in Cincinnati.

I have gone to three live shows in the the last week, two of which were at large venues. There were plenty of digital cameras (small ones) and cell phones out at the shows I attended.
I agree. House of Blues has a strict no camera policy. Luckily when I saw Hinder last year they said cameras were allowed. The staff said Hinder was one of the two shows that year that cameras were allowed in. Something about them having a backdrop...I dont know.

I dont think that the Motley show had to do with have a GA Pit...Cruefest had those and cameras were still allowed. I think it's more of an indoor venue thing.

I'm happy that this little club called Hooligans where I live lets us bring cameras in. Two nights ago I saw Shinedown and Black Stone Cherry (awesome show!) and Hooligans always allows cameras, so I got some okay shots, but nothing special, as it is a non-professional camera.

I dont know...I like taking photos to remember the night, because it shows that I was EXACTLY there. Even if I find professional shots from the show I went to, its just not the same, and I'd rather have my own camera.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMakel
Sometimes it's up to the venue. I know of at least one story where cameras where prohibited, and Kip Winger made arrangements for one girl to go back to her car & retrieve her camera for a meet & greet, and to allow her back in. There have been tales where he's given a venue grief over a 'no camera' policy--he's so cool with the fans. He even let me take a second shot with my camera one time when it misfired on me. HoB I think has that policy because they have a lot of collectable stuff in their venues and they don't want those photographed. But Hard Rock let us take pictures and their collection is bigger, so go figure...
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChessie
I agree. I dont get it either. I hate to say it, but its probably certain bands that dont want to get caught on camera sucking or looking bad "see Def Leppard".
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Crawford
I could see the distraction from the idiots who don't understand that their tiny flash on their point and shoot isn't really doing anyone any good forty feet from the stage. However, I like taking pictures and find that indoor photography is a challenge with less light.

And for the price of a ticket, one should have the opportunity to snap a photo. I supposed they don't want the video from these cameras to end up on YouTube. Of course, those videos are simply awful and not worth watching.
March 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHappy Snappin' Tommy
I agreed on this point, until a few weeks ago.

We went to see Pretenders and there was a "No Camera Phones" policy in place. All they could do was ask us to turn our phones off when we arrived. Not very enforceable. Apparently (according to Chrissie Hynde's blogs) the camera phones are distracting to her. No one in the upper sections would even bother taking pictures, I'm sure. Right under her nose, the red lights/flashes/cameras held up are very annoying to her. To paraphrase, she said "Just enjoy the show, don't worry about taking pictures." Out of respect for the artist, I didn't. And yes, I enjoyed the show immensely.

Dropkick Murphys Saturday night, plenty of cameras everywhere. If an artist requests it, I'll honor them. Only recently have cameras been allowed back in to shows, anyway. For a long time, nothing could come in. We didn't always have camera phones, in the olden days...
March 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermom2ross
i think at most places they post this but don't enforce it however at rush i think security did. they would just tell the person not to take pictures. i don't see that coming from rush so it must have been the venue. i snuck my camera in to see ac/dc and nobody stopped us from taking pictures. i didn't use my flash and got a few good shots. i think most of the smaller bands enjoy it when fans take pictures but some of the bigger ones (axl rose) want to control everything.
March 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdon

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