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“Turn Off Your Phones When We Sing”: Artists and Cell Phones, the Love-Hate Affair That Goes On

When he notices a spectator keeping his eyes on his phone while he sings or addresses the crowd, Patrice Michaud gives him two minutes to shut up.

After this grace period, which he allocates by telling himself that a person may have an emergency that needs to be settled, he steps in. Politely but firmly.

“It happened two or three times during the last tour. People forget that when they look at their mobile phones in the dark, all I see is a blue or white face peeking out in an unknown half-light,” says artist Gaspé.

Patrice Michaud in Plains of Abraham, in 2018.

Photo archive / Le Journal de Québec

Patrice Michaud in Plains of Abraham, in 2018.

The issue of the annoying presence of smartphones in performance halls was back in the news on Sunday, when Quebec conductor Yannick Nizet-Seguin interrupted a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he is conducting, because one of the cellphones was ringing.

“Is it possible to live without a phone for an hour?” the audience asked angrily.


Last fall, French singer Christine and the Queens, who is expected to attend the Quebec Festival in July, took to Twitter.

“Put your phones down when we’re singing, seriously we have nothing more than honest concerts to share, don’t abuse us anymore, we’ll take care of the recording for you,” he drives away.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello was even harsher. “If you want to shoot me instead of venting his excitement,” he wrote as a warning on social networks, “it’s your decision, but I make it clear: if you put a cell phone in my face, I will throw it.” .

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to light

If, on the other hand, artists do not hide their indignation, others live well with this tool that sometimes allows them to live magical moments.

During one of her songs at her recent concerts in Quebec and Montreal, pop star Angel filmed herself on her phone and the photo was broadcast on the giant screen, to a nice perky effect.

There are also all those who ask the audience to activate the flashlight function while walking, thus replacing the lighters installed at arm’s length in another era.

This often gives a magical perspective to the performers, as when Duran sang Duran Save the prayer Facing the Plains of Abraham all lit up, in 2016.

A stadium lit up by phones during a concert in support of Ukraine, in March 2022, in Vienna.

Photo from the archives of AFP

A stadium lit up by phones during a concert in support of Ukraine, in March 2022, in Vienna.

In OSQ, yes

At the Orchester symphonique de Québec, spectators are allowed to take pictures during concerts, provided they do so discreetly.

A pre-recorded message is broadcast prior to performances to notify the audience.

Why? For the announcement, Andrea Doyle Simard, spokesperson for OSQ, answers.

We encourage this so that people talk about it on social networks. If it’s done respectfully and it’s not a one-click camera, artists won’t mind in theory.”

They said no to phones at their concerts

Jack White

“To my surprise, and everyone’s surprise, everyone loved it.” – quoted Channel 4 News


Madonna banned cell phones during her Madame X tour in 2019.

Silk Sonic

“With the cameras, you say to yourself: I don’t know if I want to try this dance move or if I’m afraid this joke is going to end up on the Internet.” – Bruno Mars, quoted Los Angeles Times

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