Back in April, we published a list of ways you can be a dickhead at a gig. The list was controversial, but pretty much everyone agreed that you shouldn’t take your phone out and film the entire gig or spend the majority of the performance texting or taking selfies.
Last year, Donnie Dinch, the GM of Consumer for Ticketfly and co-founder of WillCall, a music discovery app that Ticketfly have acquired, commissioned Harris Poll to find out just how long millennials spend staring at their phones when attending a gig.
“Close to a third (31 percent) of 18-34 year olds who own a smartphone and go to live events say they are on their phone during half of the event or longer,” Dinch told Billboard. “Less than 15 percent of that group said they ‘never’ use their phones during a live event.”
It’s a frightening statistic and one that even led one fed-up Sydney venue to issue a ban on mobiles and cameras from the dance floor. As Tone Deaf reported, Sydney club night Number56 forced punters to surrender their smartphones on their way in to the venue.
As Consequence of Sound note, some artists, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Savages, have even banned phones altogether from their performances, believing them to be a distracting presence and one that could aid piracy.
But American startup Yondr believes it may have a solution to the problem of phones at gigs that will allow punters to keep their phones on them in case they need them in an emergency, but prevent them from using them during a performance.
The company’s unique technology was recently employed by famously smartphone-phobic comedian Dave Chappelle during his Chicago residency. And no, it’s not like Marky Ramone’s (admittedly inspired) idea of simply swatting phones out of punters’ hands with a stick.
Image via Yondr
Yondr provides venues and artists with bulk orders of slickly designed phone pouches that lock when a punter enters a venue’s designated “phone-free” zone, but unlocks in areas designated for phone usage, such as the bathroom or a lobby.
Yondr effectively allows venue owners or artists to craft their own environments within venues and could maybe help concert attendees break their compulsive social media habits, while still giving revellers access to their phones.
“Smartphones have fundamentally changed how we live,” Yondr’s mission statement reads. “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.”
Some may ask why venues don’t simply jam phone signals in their venues. The answer is people like using their phones and it’s simply a fact of life that they’re going to use them (also, jamming cell signals is very much illegal). This way, people get to keep their phones but use them responsibly.