THE answer, my friend, is buzzing in your pouch … if you are attending any of Bob Dylan’s UK concerts in the next few months, this line may be running through your head.

The Nobel Prize-winning titan has banned the use of cameraphones at any of his gigs. He’ll be using an Orwellian system called Yondr. After you’ve been scanned to airport-security level, you are given a pouch to put your phone in, which is then digitally locked. You can only open the pouch in a secluded area elsewhere in the venue, or when the music’s over.

The reasons? Well, they’re a very rock’n’roll mixture of high artistic principle, and filthy commerce. The principled bit stems from a rising tide of artists, claiming that a forest of mobys held aloft destroys the gig, as a communal experience. Musicians such as Madonna, Beyonce, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Jack White, Bjork, Placebo and comedians like Dave Chapelle have all either railed at camera phone users in performance, or used systems like Yondr to remove the devices entirely.

“We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON”, went a press release from Jack White ahead of his London gigs this year. This would ensure a “100% human experience”.

The filthy commerce part is that fans recording their favourite songs, and posting them on the social media of their choice, is beginning to mess up some serious copyright deals. Dylan, in particular, has entered into a vast arrangement, where he’s been paid $300m for full exploitation rights of his previous material.

Dylanologists wishing to capture his current growlings and compare it to their old bootlegs, will have to wait for the pay-per-view live version. Because the bouncers will be on the watch, compelled by contract, to pounce on anyone whose device has evaded security (& releases wobbly footage to YouTube).

The National:

Bummer, man (or should we say, The Man). Is it, though? You could say this was Luddite – but only if you don’t really know what the original 18th century Luddites believed. They didn’t oppose all technology, only that “which did not benefit the commonality”, as General Ludd’s pamphlets put it. And it depends what you define as the commonality.

If the gig experience is the commonality, then some might say it’s good news. The NME’s Mark Beaumont described his Jack White phone-free gig: “Instead of lit-up faces lowered like a 4G prayer meeting, there were bobbing heads entirely engaged with the show. It was as if, when the brainless mundanity of mobile phone addiction was removed from a situation, excitement rushed in to replace it. A thrill not just to be fully connected to the music, but of a long-lost exclusivity too. A sense of watching something that won’t be on YouTube tomorrow, something truly unrepeatable, something special … When the screens go dark, the whole room lights up.”

Very well expressed, and nearly convincing. But different scales of the music business may have a different “commonality” in mind. With my brother Greg as one half of Hue And Cry, I’m playing a lot of gigs this summer – from stadiums headlined by Simple Minds, to small acoustic venues of a few hundred.

I have a standard line that I open every gig with. “We have a very strict rule about the use of mobile phones, enforceable by very muscular, shaven-headed bouncers …if you don’t record all your favourite songs, and you don’t post them to our social media sites, then you’re out on your ear. Understand?” There has (so far) always been laughter in response.

But I mean it. We returned to the music business in 2006, just at the time when social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were coming fully on stream. The mantra was: build your community by means of digital networks.

We decided to throw ourselves into platform building and content making, aiming to pull people away from the competition into our own media space. It nearly flattened us, tripling our workload. And then we started noticing several years ago, that fans often uploaded material from their smartphones, primarily to Facebook & YouTube.

The quality control was, to start with, variable: we mostly performed upside down, with a finger across our faces. But people have gotten more visually literate, as well as the phones themselves improving. So now when we ask for your “vids, snaps, and thoughts of tonight’s gig” on a Facebook post, we often get what can be an amazingly useful record of our performance.

Not only does every Facebook gig post become an audio-visual archive of an event, allowing the crowd to see themselves as a “commonality” – it’s also a tool for us as professional musicians.

You see what worked, what doesn’t work; where technique served you or failed you, in the moment. Sometimes rare songs are posted, which organically grows your repertoire. And sometimes, when all you can hear are four excitable people singing their heads off tunelessly at each chorus, you just have to giggle.

From this artist’s perspective, watching a firmament of mobys in the darkness, we’d beg to differ from those previously mentioned. We’re more along the lines of Paul McCartney at Glastonbury, who marvelled out loud that the crowd’s phones “looked like stars”. We once played a sell-out at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, closing with our song Stars Crash Down ... and there they all were, laid out before us.

So it’s partly a taste call, and partly a business call, as to whether you want to invest in clearing phones from your gigs. As a “legacy” or “heritage” act, we’re largely in the business of memory: our songs have gotten people through nearly 40 years of highs and lows. If we turn up in their town – maybe only this one time – we feel the least people should be able to do is to digitally seize that moment.

I don’t feel disrespected as a performer by this act. Indeed, quite the opposite. If what you’re aiming for is communal epiphany, is the right vibe set by erecting a police operation on the audience?

I notice that another growth market for Yondr is in schools. Children are scanned for their phones at the gates, which are then secured in pouches, and re-opened at the end of lessons.

A report in the Irish Times on the Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in Kerry, noted that pupils were talking directly to each other more in breaks, rather than chatting over WhatsApp or – heaven forfend! – sharing live music videos.

You could say this was just a new version of the old disciplinary necessities of education. But do we want metal detectors at school gates? Or could we imagine the teaching system working a little harder to integrate these fizzing devices into their pedagogy, given that they’re not going away from kids’ lives?

As Joni Mitchell once trilled, “the star-making machinery behind the popular song” is now in many millions of hands. And at 81, I would suggest that Bob Dylan should give less of a damn about people wanting to digitally capture him, before the reaper inevitably catches up with him.

The genius has already given himself his own best advice: “Don’t criticise/what you can’t understand”.