Fighting Fans? – Proliferating Video Technology Forces moe. to Ban Digicams from Concerts

moe bans digital cameras with new policy“moe.” the American jam band from Buffalo, New York recently posted a new photography policy:

After much consideration, we regret to announce a change in our photo policy. Since it has grown increasingly difficult to differentiate video cameras from still photography cameras, we will only allow disposable cameras at moe. concerts effective with our 5/30 show.


moe has built a steady base of fans over the years through an open taping policy, similar to that used by other such as the Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band and Phish. These policies generally allow audience members to set up a microphone and taping equipment to record a show and then distribute it for free through the mail and on the web. moe. has taken an unprecedented step here, banning digital cameras from shows. Discussion boards such as Phantasy Tour are alive with discussion about the shift, debating the change.

Are Bootleggers the problem?

moe’s stance on the change is that they started seeing video of their shows for sale, and compared this to someone breaking into their house the downturn of artist patronage. Fans dispute this, and counter-claim that even though no bootleg moe dvd’s can be found on message boards or ebay, the band does not have any official DVD’s for sale anyway. Also, this prevents normal digital photography of bands. Who wants to take a disposable camera in for developing anymore?

What moe fails to realize is that fan-produced content is something they should be embracing, not pushing away. Sites like Youtube and Google Video offer an opportunity for people to share the short video clips they’ve been taking on their digital cameras since they became widespread.

This paranoid policy by the band points to one thing: they have failed to come up with any way to adapt to technology shift in increasing the awareness and commercial viability of their brand. Rather than confront the problem, they’re trying to put it away.

What moe. Should Be Doing

If moe wanted to make a money pile out of a molehill they would have instead asked for fan’s help in putting an end to bootlegged video by first identifying places (online or in the lot) where it has been seen. They should have simultaneously announced plans for the first .moe live DVD which would coincide with a new contest for the best fan created video. The winner’s video would be included as an extra on the new DVD.

Fan created video can be used as an excellent method for word of mouth and viral publicity of a brand–Firefox succeeded in doing this with its recent Firefox Flicks campaign.
They also need to come to terms with the fact that they have a poor content offering on their own official site. They should make a number of pro-shot one-song concert videos available in iPod Video format for free with site registration or as an extra for purchasing some other item on their online store.

Broadly, Content Authors Need To Keep Up

As recording and distributing rich content gets easier and easier, the source of content authors, such as moe. must shift their strategies to the change. By reacting negativly to technology, they have made a decision that many feel is anti-fan. All brands live and die by the influentials or core fans and this group likes to take digital photos.

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