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Lights stream into the audience from the onstage performance. Louis the Child packs the sold-out McDonald Theatre during their Dear Sense Tour in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 28, 2018. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

Walking the streets of Eugene on a weekend night, you can hear music blasting through the walls of frat and house parties all around you. If you walk through campus on a weekday, the majority of people passing by will have headphones in as they listen to music on their way to class.

Music’s popularity continues to grow every year. In a report by Nielsen Music, it was revealed that in 2017, Americans listened to 32 hours of music a week on average. Compared to 26.6 hours in 2016 and 23.5 in 2015.

Music consumption continues to increase in large part because of online streaming. Technology has greatly benefited the accessibility of music for consumers; however, it has not positively impacted live music in the same way.

To start, the concert experience has vastly changed with the emergence of smartphones. It often seems like concertgoers care more about recording and sharing concerts on their phones than actually engaging with the artist and fellow fans. When you go to concerts, the unique energy and intimacy that you share with other people is crucial. If those around you are more concerned with documenting an experience than actually living it, this connection is diminished.

Phone use has gotten so excessive that former White Stripes’ singer Jack White recently banned all phones from his concert. Edmonton Journal reviewer Ryan Garner wrote about a recent concert,“Free of distraction (or even the temptation of it), the crowd was fully drawn into the action, returning to a time when we focused on the proceedings rather than vainly attempting to preserve them.”

If you were to look up a video of an AC/DC concert 30 years ago and compare it to a Coachella concert this past year, the crowds are extraordinarily different. The main difference is that one displays thousands witnessing authentic and pure emotion, while technology interrupts and impedes this experience in the other.

Social media isn’t the only influence that technology has had on live music. With live and recorded concert streaming online, fans can watch concerts without even going. For the past eight years, YouTube has live streamed many of the concerts at Coachella. Fans are now questioning if they should spend hundreds of dollars when they can watch the same show for free at home. According to Livestream’s website, live music streaming viewership is increasing at a rate of 28.6 percent per year.

Additionally, live streaming is changing how artists perform. During Beyonce’s legendary set this year at Coachella, her set seemed to be targeted more at the audience at home than in attendance. Why would people go to concerts if artists are going to play more for the fans streaming online than the ones in person?

What makes live music so special isn’t something that can be felt watching a computer screen or listening to a song on Spotify. Concerts give bands the control to play music the way they want it to be heard and understood. Going to concerts inspires, energizes and connects us in a way that nothing else can.

One of the main draws of Eugene is that it is one of the best places in Oregon to find live music. The Willamette Valley Music Festival, Lorax, WOW Hall and McDonald all give unique experiences to see some of the best up-and-coming musicians in the world. Get out there and experience the live music scene that can be found on every corner of Eugene for yourself — without your phone.


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