Alicia Keys fans will have to get used to staying off their cell phones at future concerts.
According to Refinery29, the singer/songwriter is instituting a new policy that, while allowing fans to enter the venue with their cell phones, requires them to put the devices inside a Yondr case during the show.
With Yondr’s product, the venue becomes a cell phone-free zone, locking once concert-goers enter the zone allocated by the venue and/or artist. The only way to unlock the phone for use is to tap the case on a metal disk. Presumably, the metal disks will be located outside the phone-free zone so that anyone who wants to call or text has to do so in the lobby.
The Yondr website explains the company’s vision.
“Smartphones have fundamentally changed how we live. How to integrate them into our lives as a useful tool, rather than a compulsive habit, is a question that needs an answer. We think smartphones have incredible utility, but not in every setting. In some situations, they have become a distraction and a crutch—cutting people off from each other and their immediate surroundings. Yondr has a simple purpose: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.”
Especially as smartphones and their cameras improve, the amount of screens being held up at concerts has increased over the past few years. Recently, some artists have begun to speak out about it — Adele told a fan last month to put away her camera and tripod, urging her to enjoy the music live instead.
Vogue editor Anna Wintour banned cell phones and social media use from the Met Gala last year, citing the extra need for security because of the high-profile guest list.
The social media age only exacerbates the issue, since live updating events for friends, family, and followers has become such a popular concept — from Instagram and Twitter videos, to Snapchat.
These instances aren’t, however, the first that large events have discouraged device usage. Typically, with advanced screenings of films, devices have to be shut off, and recording is never allowed; anyone who violates this rule is promptly removed. In small theaters, this is usually fairly easy for the ushers and security present to monitor consistently.
A Game of Thrones advanced screening in 2014, though, took this rule to an entirely new level. Thousands of excited fans descended on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for a sneak peek of Season 4, Game Of Thrones: The Epic Fan Experience.
“No phones/cameras allowed” was clearly printed on each ticket, and fans soon found out how that would be enforced when they encountered the “phone check” tents.
All electronics had to be handed over; they were stored in paper bags and the fans were given color-coded tickets. Each color matched a tent, so the fans would remember which tent they needed to visit after the show to reclaim their devices.
After the four-hour event, the process for the fans to line up once again and pick up their devices seemed to go seamlessly. According to a Business Insider reporter who attended, she waited a mere 20 minutes to get her phone back and didn’t personally witness any confrontations or mishaps in the lines.
The question here is: will this intriguing new cell phone ban be enforced at every concert? It seems as if it will be an appealing concept to many entertainers, but fans are sure to complain if it becomes more and more common. An argument for cell phones during live events has always been that it’s important to fans to have a record of their experience that they can look at or watch months and years afterwards.
Dave Chapelle and Louis C.K. will reportedly also be instituting a Yondr ban for cell phones during their events.
[Photo by Luca Bruno/AP Images]