Cellphone concerts — a tax on the stupid

by Mathew on July 28, 2006 · 3 comments

So the Rolling Stones — arguably the world’s oldest rock band — are the latest lure to get eager music fans listening to a concert via their cellphone (other such concerts have featured lesser lights such as Daddy Yankee and Rihanna). As Carlo at MobHappy and others note, you get just 7 minutes for your $1.99, and you can only listen for 14 minutes in total no matter how much you want to pay. Why? Because of fears of bootlegging, believe it or not — like someone is going to rip the entire concert from their cellphone.

Even without that kind of asinine restriction, the Listen Live Now service leaves me cold. Yes, I would love to hear the Stones live without having to fly to Paris and pay $350 or whatever their tickets cost now. And yes, I know that the sound doesn’t come from some drunken groupie holding their phone up in the air but straight from the Stones’ soundboard, as BusinessWeek breathlessly informs us. But it’s still $2 for 7 freaking minutes — and it could easily be the 7 minutes when Keef forgets where he put his guitar, or when Charlie has to be taken backstage to refill his oxygen tanks.

I’m with Ethan Kaplan, director of technology for Warner Brothers, who wonders on his blog Blackrimglasses: “When will (most) bands realize that bootleg recordings of shows are the best inner and post record cycle marketing tools they have?” Of course, the Stones need marketing like I need another hole in the head, but Ethan’s point is a good one. More bands should do what Pearl Jam does, and sell their own “bootlegs” of every concert directly to their fans.

But then they wouldn’t be able to get $2 for 7 minutes, nor would they be able to help the evil phone companies find new ways of extorting money from their hapless users. And thanks to commenter Peebs for this link.

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