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Old 01-06-2003, 09:10 PM   #1
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An article for all you bootleg collectors....

From the NY Times...

They Buy all the Albums, but Trade Concert Bootlegs

January 6, 2003

Marc Daniel added 1,400 albums to his compact disc
collection last year. But he is not waging a campaign to
reverse the music industry's declining sales. Almost all
the titles he acquired, by groups like the Grateful Dead
and U2, were live concert recordings that were never
officially released. Nor did he buy them in record shops.
Instead, he used the Internet to trade for them, swapping
copies of his discs for recordings he desired. He said his
CD trading with its questionable legality and exhilarating
musical payoff was like "a coke run without any drugs."

Mr. Daniel, 51, a property manager in Mount Vernon, Wash.,
is addicted to music trading, and he is hardly alone. With
a minimum of online searching, fans of virtually any band
from arena-filling superstars to cult-worshiped club acts,
can find a Web site or electronic mailing list to feed a
habit for live CD's. Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen? No
problem. Illicit recordings, or bootlegs, of their concerts
circulate soon after the last car leaves the parking lot.
But a show by the singer-songwriter Dirk Hamilton or the
electronica musician Luke Vibert? Also no sweat. In the
music world, you're nobody until somebody loves you enough
to want your bootlegs.

While the Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam and other bands allow
their shows to be recorded and freely exchanged, many do
not. Trafficking in unauthorized sound recordings is a
violation of federal copyright law as well as a felony in
more than 30 states. Yet online traders don't seem
troubled. Mr. Daniel said he copies about 90 discs a day to
fulfill trades he has arranged. It's all about bliss. "I
don't feel like a criminal," he said. "What I'm doing is
bringing joy to people and bringing joy to me."

Bootlegs are unauthorized recordings, mostly of live
performances, that were never meant to be released by
musicians and their labels. Bootleg CD's are different from
counterfeit CD's, which are illegitimate copies of official
releases. There are markets for both.

Just as online song-file sharing has challenged how the
music industry sells its tunes, so too is digital
technology altering the way fans get their hands on bootleg
CD's. Although bootlegs, usually costing $20 to $30 a disc,
can still be found in record stores, it is cheaper and
simpler to get them online. Many new computers have
built-in CD recording devices - burners - and some blank
discs cost less than 50 cents apiece. Because the Internet
enables a band's fans to congregate in one virtual spot,
traders connect easily and make exchanges with a few e-mail
messages and a couple of stamps.

Bootleg trading is not as widespread as Internet file
sharing, however, and it does not provoke as much concern
from the music industry, which worries more about piracy,
as when counterfeit CD's and song-file downloads cut into
the sales of official releases.

Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry
Association of America, said the association cannot
determine how much bootlegging occurs. But, he said, "the
piracy problem is obviously a lot larger in scope, both in
the physical world and online, because more people are
trading and pirating best-selling discs than bootlegs of
live concerts."

This explains why the association has not been especially
aggressive in clamping down on bootleg trading. There are
practical considerations, too. Musicians must object to
specific live recordings before the association will step
in. While some artists might grouse about retailers who
profit from selling their bootlegs, online trades rarely
involve money. Artists who prosecute individual fans for
merely indulging in music beyond their official CD's would
be about as cool as a Guy Lombardo record.

Traders argue that they are performing a public service by
undercutting commercial bootlegs. A Philadelphia trader
said he used to buy bootleg CD's in stores but started an
online mailing list for Rolling Stones concerts that now
has 1,700 subscribers. "Once you see that you can trade for
the thing for 10 cents a disc," he said, "why waste your

Even in cases where bands do not sanction live recordings,
traders rationalize their actions. First and foremost, they
say, they do not cost the musicians any sales because they
already own all their favorite band's official albums. More
important, they argue that they are documenting musical

The Philadelphia trader, who has 733 Stones concerts in his
collection, said, "Just preserving that legacy, that 40
years of music, that's the most important thing to us." For
instance, he said that "L.A. Friday," a bootleg of a 1975
Stones concert, was more vivid than "Love You Live," the
band's official concert album of that time.

Clear sound and glitch-free recordings are just as
important to bootleg traders as performance quality. Shows
are traded by mail rather than over the Internet as MP3
files to assure the highest possible fidelity. Online
traders shun poorly recorded discs and passionately debate
the merits of recordings of the same show made by different
people. To come up with the best possible version of a
concert, some traders blend recordings from more than one
source, using software to cover rough spots, then
distribute it to their group. Because the copies are
digital duplicates, they do not accrue layers of hiss like
recordings on audio cassettes.

Online traders are not hard to find. For instance, a search
of the Groups section of yields more than 400
clubs devoted to music trading, authorized and
unauthorized. And some collectors list the concerts they
own and the ones they are seeking on their own Web sites.

Initiating a trade usually requires no more effort than
sending a request to another trader with a list of what's
in one's own collection. Beginners with nothing to swap can
offer to send blank discs with return postage.

Some groups set up trading "trees": a source sends copies
of a concert to two or three traders, who in turn send them
to two or three others, and so on. Variations of this
system include a "vine" whereby a disc passes from trader
to trader, being copied at each stage. Some traders also
create Web sites from which cover graphics and track
listings can be downloaded and printed.

The Internet has quickened the trading process. In the days
before e-mail, traders would respond by mail to classified
ads in music magazines. A trader outside Philadelphia who
founded an electronic mailing list for Pearl Jam shows
said, "Before, it took weeks if not months," but now it's
so fast that recordings of four December shows by Pearl Jam
have already been distributed to hundreds of collectors.

Mr. Daniel admits that he has yet to listen to every minute
of every CD in his collection. But he continues to trade at
a feverish rate. Last week, he gained a new rationale for
his obsession. A musician told him he had stopped drinking
on stage when he realized that all his performances were
being circulated. Mr. Daniel said, "It causes them to play
better knowing that every note is going to be heard by
somebody in Australia."
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