Should you allow cameras at your live entertainment venue?
Once upon a time, back before the days when every cell phone was equipped with a digital camera it was pretty easy to keep guests from taking photos of entertainers at your venue. Cameras were bulky and easy to spot with even a basic search at the front door. Now most cell phones have high quality digital cameras bulit in, and many even come with video cameras!
The web is filled with bootleg videos of performances of all types, from small venues to major arena and stadium shows.
Taking all that into consideration, the idea of having a camera policy for your venue is almost a moot point. There WILL be cameras in the venue.
However, for legal reasons, and to protect yourself and your guests, you probably do need to have something in writing that makes your establishment’s stand on this matter clear.
As always, the first question to ask when crafting ANY policy is WHY. What is the intent of this policy, what goal do we hope to achieve with this?
Some entertainers have a policy where cameras are forbidden at their performances that you may need to comply with for legal reasons. However, many artists are taking a much more open stance when it comes to amateur photos and videos being shot at their performances. They look at it as free publicity, which makes a lot of sense when you think about the viral video phenomenon. Thanks to the web, unknown artists can generate incredible amounts of publicity by posting videos and music at You Tube and other video sites.
This type of viral marketing can also give your venue the same type of free publicity and generate buzz, while building relationships with your guests and the market you hope to reach via these new social media mediums. Allowing or encouraging visitors to record performances and post them at your venue’s web page might be a great way to generate traffic and excitement about an upcoming performance- maybe even hold a best video contest.
Naturally, you’ll need to ensure all your legal ducks are in a row, and get permission from the entertainers involved. Local acts might love the opportunity to be a part of such a promotional effort- imagine all the free videos they’ll get from being a part of your event! Natiuonal entertainers may have reservations about this type of activity so do your due diligence first to save headaches later.
Another option is to create your own YouTube channel and post all your videos there. After Google, YouTube is one of the most popular search engines out there, and if you don’t have a strong presence there, especially in such a rich visual medium as live entertainment, you’re passing up unlimited opportunities.
Remember to have your legal team create some sort of waiver that lets guests know they are being videotaped, and that the videos will be used in promotional videos. Some visitors may well consider such efforts to be an invasion of their privacy, so you’ll need to weigh your options carefully and look closely at your regular demographic before initiating a program like this. Depending on the type of venue you are, some guests might not want anyone to know they were there...
Make this new video technology and social media work for you!
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