Some of the biggest entertainers in the world are turning to a new device that make keep your phone dark, silent and out of sight at their shows. Are country concerts next?
Alicia Keys, The Lumineers, Guns N’ Roses, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Louis C.K. — just a few of the acts who have turned to a new company called Yondr to prevent fans from filming their shows. If the success of the device is any indication, they could be coming to a country venue near you.
Yondr, which began in 2014, created the simple concept: a locking neoprene pouch that keeps people from using their phones in a show. When you enter, you place your phone in the pouch. The folding flap locks down and requires an unlocking device to access. It’s kind of like the security tags on clothes at department stores.
If you need to use your phone, you leave the performance area and head to a designated are where it’s unlocked with a quick tap of a metal disc.
Right now, artists are responsible for requesting Yondr be at their shows. An increasing number of performers have expressed dismay over the fact that fans will often record and share new or unreleased material. It makes them hesitant to play anything because they don’t want the first time somebody hears a new song to be over a poorly recorded, blurry phone video. Comedians are especially at risk of having their material spoiled by phones.
Others say the device actually helps concert-goers enjoy the moment instead of constantly being on their phone. Soul pop singer Adele recently made waves when she stopped a show to ask a fan to stop filming and just enjoy the real-life experience (and yes, it’s ironic that people saw her rant thanks to somebody else recording it).
Yondr founder Graham Dugoni went all-in on the concept, even selling his jeep to help pay for the product’s initial development. He told The Washington Post the idea came when he was watching somebody dance at a concert. “He was pretty drunk, and two strangers were videotaping the guy, and I watched them, over their shoulder, posting on YouTube,” says Dugoni. “If a guy can’t go to a concert and just kind of let loose, what does that do to all interactions in the social sphere?”
It’s a good point. On the one hand, you don’t want to have to babysit people or treat them like they can’t handle their own business and act like adults. On the other hand, people often need to be babysat because they can’t handle their own business and act like adults.
So Yondr’s mission is three-fold: to protect artists’ new content, to protect others at the show from being made a mockery of and to encourage people to enjoy the show live and in the moment.
Obviously, Yondr has its limitations — for one, its an additional cost incurred by the performer, and it so far can only really be achieved in controlled environments, as opposed to large festivals where so many country artists headline over the summer. But the overall impression from artists has been very good, and a lot of fans are applauding the decision to make concerts a phone-free affair.
It’s just a matter of time before we see Yondr at some of our favorite country concerts. And when it comes to performances like the Grand Ole Opry or specially taped shows, Yondr could prove invaluable in keeping the experience genuine and unspoiled.