Camera-Shy Birds Of Tokyo

While lining up to attend a show at my favourite Brisbane live music venue last night, I was confronted with some new and conspicuous signage. I’d seen the update on The Zoo’s site last week, but it’d slipped my mind until I re-read in person:

Dear Zoo Patrons,

No recording or photographic equipment is allowed to be brought into the Zoo.

Please do not record the event unless you have gained permission from the venue and the performing act themselves, this also applies to patron crowd shots as well.

Anyone caught doing so, with out pre arranged consent will have their gear confiscated until the end of the night.

Thank you in advance for your understanding on this issue.

All the best,
The Zoo.

Curious. Upon questioning those who knew, it appears that these restrictions are the result of a Birds Of Tokyo show in late May.

The band played some new material to a sold-out crowd. Several among the audience decided to film these songs – in “high quality”, so I’m told – and upload the footage to YouTube. The band, who have a new album due later this year, responded by threatening legal action lest The Zoo instate and enforce the camera restrictions for future shows. The videos in question have been removed from YouTube.

Let’s examine the facts, and assume that the videos were uploaded by a single party:
  1. This person paid to buy a ticket to watch Birds Of Tokyo; therefore,
  2. It’s reasonable to assume that they’re a Birds Of Tokyo fan.
  3. This fan wanted to share new Birds Of Tokyo material with other Birds Of Tokyo fans throughout the world; the easiest way to do that was to:
  4. Upload Birds Of Tokyo footage to YouTube.

I don’t think that I need to point out the inherent stupidity in demanding rules be put in place after the act occurred and the band had left the venue. I’d be surprised if The Zoo had anything further to do with Birds Of Tokyo.

An ostensibly friendly action by a Birds Of Tokyo fan has caused wider ramifications upon the Brisbane music scene – specifically, by scaring The Zoo into changing their conditions of entry, which have long been casual and reasonable, much like the venue’s staff.

Why did this happen? Because Birds Of Tokyo are apparently more concerned with shielding their precious new material than encouraging their dedicated fanbase to continue doing what they will always attempt to do – that is, share with fellow fans.

This is an awful strategic decision on Birds of Tokyo’s behalf. It seems that they’ve forgotten that sharing is the essence of being a music fan. Though, bear in mind that I’m taking this hearsay on face value – it could have been a decision made by their record label, their management, or I could be entirely wrong.

National fame and notoriety. Sold-out Australian tours. A Triple J Hottest 100 placing. 10,151 MySpace friends. Why the fuck should Birds Of Tokyo care if a fan uploads a couple of bootleg, unreleased songs online and a couple of thousand people check it out?

Their complete failure to view this occurrence as anything other than an act of positive word-of-mouth marketing from the most influential sector of their community – an actual goddamn Birds Of Tokyo fan – astounds and angers me. It’s irrevocably warped my already-dwindling perception of the band.

This is the price you pay for attempting to control the actions of your fanbase. This is a glaring example of failing to consider an issue in whole before acting.

Thanks for fucking up sixteen years of amicable amateur photography at The Zoo, Birds Of Tokyo.

EDIT 12/06/08 – A discussion about this topic is taking place on the FasterLouder forum.

Comments? Below.
  1. Stephen says:

    I don’t buy the “the promoter was responsible” argument. The buck stops with the band, basically, I think. These people are /representing/ them after all. To say that oh … it was the promoter/venue/label is just an abrogation of responsibility.


  2. Mike Brown says:

    I have mixed feelings on this issue – if I buy a ticket to see a show I’m buying the rights to watch and listen to a single performance, not to take a million pictures to stick up on Flickr or to make a bootleg with a small mic and my mini-disc player to share with people who didn’t want to pony up for a ticket. Sure, my recordings could add to the publicity of the band but at the end of the day the band/label/promoter are in control of that and if they want fans to be involved, they will let the fans know.

    But the rule itself is silly and while I don’t know anything about the venue, unless it has ushers it will be unpoliceable. More importantly, if Birds Of Tokyo had qualms about any of their performance seeing outside of The Zoo, they should of either had the camera ban in place before the show took place (with the ban being announced as the same time as ticket went on sale) or not played new material in the first place. The band would have to be pretty naive to think no-one is going to bring a mobile phone, let alone a camera and use it to make a recording of some type.

  3. Nick Drewe says:

    How is this a bad thing. The quality of video and audio that anyone can record from the crowd at a live show isn’t going to be that great, certainly when compared to a ripped MP3 or music video. It could hardly be considered piracy. If anything, a video of this new material is going to get more people interested in the band, or keen to go see a show and buy their music.

    If Birds of Tokyo want to engage with their fans, they should be seeking out their massive online audience by shooting video at their shows and uploading it themselves, instead of fighting back against their fan base.

  4. Nick Drewe says:

    P.S. A YouTube video is never going to be a substitute for a live show. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would not buy a ticket to a show that they otherwise would go to, in favour of staying home and waiting for a video of the performance to be posted on YouTube.

  5. Thanks for the responses, guys. I’m really glad that a lot of people are interested in discussing this issue.

    The conversation over at FasterLouder is progressing well – Joc Curran from the Zoo just back to me. View her response:

  6. BoTFan says:

    I can confirm that the requests to remove audio/video came from the Birds of Tokyo manager. No idea if he was doing it on behalf of anyone.

    As mentioned elsewhere, a similar request was made from Karnivool’s manager previously when they had been recorded at a show. With that request the point was made that the band don’t like people’s first experience of the new songs to be bootlegged live footage which I think is fair enough.

    I imagine that’s probably the case with BoT too.

  7. says:

    ^ But they’re assuming that the fan’s experience of a first song is going to be a bootlegged VIDEO. What about ripped mp3’s? If I hear about a new album I would head straight to soulseek, not YouTube. Also, anyone who creates a review of a band based on a bootlegged YT vid doesn’t hold much cred compared to someone who bought the album.


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