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Touring Australia and Europe, music festival blocks phone cameras with stickers

Since glowing screens are as omnipresent at live events as the performers themselves, some music promoters are pioneering a back-to-basics approach. On its forthcoming tour through Australia and Europe, music festival This Never Happened will ban filming and photography by attendees. To create a more immersive atmosphere for all, stickers will be placed over phones' camera lenses as people arrive.

In 2016, melodic house DJ Daniel Goldstein, who goes by Lane 8, launched a series of gigs called This Never Happened. The performances were named for the notion that, in the age of smartphones and social media, a live event hasn't occurred unless it's widely recorded and shared by the audience. Goldstein wanted his crowds to be fully present, so he decided to ban photography and recordings at his shows. Phone cameras were taped on entry, as has long been customary at Berghain and other Berlin nightclubs. In some venues, attendees were asked to place their phones in locked Yondr pouches.

Now that live music, festivals and touring have made their post-pandemic return, This Never Happened is resuming its no-phone policy and bringing the concept to new audiences.

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The backlash against using phones to document live performances is gathering pace, spurred by criticism that it detracts from a unique, one-off experience. Performers are met with a sea of faces gazing up at devices, and their fans lose an opportunity to connect deeply with the music and each other. (Research shows that focusing on visual aspects while taking pictures shifts a person's attention away from what they're hearing.)

While taping up people's phones might seem drastic, most event attendees appreciate the enforced digital detox, realizing it allows them to be fully present instead of trying to capture a moment for later. When and where could your brand implement phone-free times or zones, creating space for vibes to unfold and memories to be made?