June, 2013 was a month of well publicized reports related to pianist Krystian Zimerman stopping a performance to verbally spank the audience after seeing a patron allegedly using a Smartphone to video record a portion of his performance. At the time, the culture community, myself included, was abuzz about whether Zimerman’s response was justified (it wasn’t) but we all apparently missed the direction we should have been purporting.
Instead of promoting stricter enforcement or attempts to illuminate patrons via catchy pre-concert reminders, we should have spent our time focusing on efforts to reward patrons for engaging in desired behavior.
Case in point, the 3/18/2014 edition of lifehacker.com published an article by Eric Ravenscraft that reports on an effort by Cinemark Theaers to automatically reward users for turning off their Smartphones during movies.
In a nutshell, Cinemark uses iOS and Android specific apps that require users to create an account and login in order to track compliance and offer rewards. The idea can certainly be developed for live classical music performances and soloists can take matters into their own hands by developing their own solutions to reward patrons for shutting down Smartphones during performances regardless the location or venue.
My development experience dictates that you can go one step better than Cinemark by avoiding platform based apps entirely and rely on a more user-friendly responsive mobile website platform (learn about the differences) that will be easier to manage and integrate with your standard website. Nonetheless, the very notion of focusing on rewarding desired behavior over demanding dystopian conformity will produce far better results, not to mention better headlines.
So if Mr. Zimerman, or any other soloist, chamber ensemble, large ensemble, or venue is interested in getting something like this going, get in touch and let’s make some history.