Danger Chris Robinson10.1.10   |   Posted in: Music   |   By: Toshi Jones
Tags: music industry, music marketing, The Black Crows, Wilco
Phoenix at the Holywood Bowl September 18, 2010
In a recent Wall Street Journal article The Black Crows and Wilco spoke candidly about their decisions to strictly prohibit the use of photo and video cameras at their live shows. We were shocked when Chris Robinson was quoted in the article stating, “As a band we’ve been trying to string together these moments, the kind of moments I’ve had as a music fan that have blown my mind. That’s not happening when you’re texting or checking your f—ing fantasy league stats.”
Disengaged fans are a separate issue. There is no doubt that Robinson is aware that fans who record his image infringe on his intellectual property rights with out licensing or paying for them. Long gone are the days when artists can strictly control the use of their likeness and profit from licensing it. Bands like The Black Crows continue to stifle their marketing abilities by holding on to archaic views the music industry and will struggle remain relevant while artists who engage their fans are embraced. Fans demand more of an artist, they will no longer be nickel and dimed by merchandising and CD sales. They take control of the fan experience by making a conscious decision to support artists by attending shows and sharing that experience driving music to new audiences.
Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy expressed his sentiments toward fan the videos by saying “My sense of indignation was really roused quite a few nights.” Even though Tweedy seems upset, Wilco takes a slightly more lax approach to enforcement by refraining from invasive frisks and searches and simply requesting that fans not shoot video. Still their public distaste for the very devices that are key to Wilco’s marketing success, amounts to clear fan abandonment. Cameras and phones could be deteriorating the concert going experience, but prohibition of these key cultural components could be career suicide.
With music sales in perpetual limbo, opportunities to increase exposure to artists and their music become a crucial component to profitability. Concert ticket sales remain in demand and while ticket prices have steadily increased in recent years, bands both big and small are able to regularly tour and sell out venues across the US and world wide. Mediums like Youtube, Vimeo and Flickr have been adopted as public keepsakes for devoted fans and concert goers. Devotees tout their influence by uploading clips from obscure shows while the vast majority share the experience from a unique perspective. Fans unable to attend shows by highly sought-after acts such as Radiohead, Phoenix, and The Arcade Fire anxiously brows Youtube to catch a glimpse of one of the last remaining authentic musical experiences, the live show.
No will argue that shaky amateur video shot from the pit could compare to being there, but one can always dream. It is exactly this aspirational sentiment that makes these kinds of digital mementos powerful and thus a vital piece of a successful music marketing campaign.