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July 19th, 2003

The Taping Community

The Grateful Dead was known for not only letting their fans record live shows, but encouraging them to, as long as they weren’t sold for profit later on. I had thought the “taping culture” had pretty much died off, with only a few bands encouraging it these days (Dave Matthews, Black Crowes, etc.), but last night I went to a show where probably 10% of the audience was taping, most of them at a special “tapers table” where they hooked their fancy ADATs, Minidisc recorders, etc. directly into the main mixing board. I was planning on taping the show with my Nomad with a new microphone I had just bought, but the various tapers were nice enough to lend me a cable and let me daisy chain through their recording devices. The end result: an incredibly good sounding recording of the show (one set of straight reggae and dub and one set of the reggae version of Dark Side of the Moon).

If I could, I’d tape every show I attended. There’s often something special about live performances, and being able to have them archived is pretty cool. I wouldn’t care so much about performances I wasn’t at (ie. trading) in most cases, but I can think of at least three shows in the last five years that I really wish I had a quality recording of.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 5:34:50 am
For the past 8 years, I've worked at the Creation Festival, held in Central PA, helping to run a LPFM (Low Powered FM Station) that simulcasts the main stage of the festival, and does music/interviews/etc during the down time.

I came away with some great personal tapes of shows throughout the years, since I had a direct feed from the main mixing board. Next year, I am definitely looking forward to recording some of it digitally. Talking to a lot of people, they have taken their radios and made tapes from the radio broadcast of the stage throughout the years, as well.

The sad thing is: I think a majority of acts wouldn't really have a problem with people making tapes of their acts, if it wasn't for the overriding fears of piracy. Yeah, making copies of tapes is no big deal, but now in the age of easy digital recordings, hooking into direct feeds and whatnot, there's simply too much risk involved.

There's only a few (established)bands, like you mentioned, that are willing to take that risk. Another one popular for it are the Beastie Boys. It's something I wish I could (legally) do more often, because how often have you left a concert saying something like: "Wow, they are much better live than on the album?"

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 12:59:30 pm
I listened the entire show again on the way home last night (interestingly, the recording ended when I was within a block of my house) and there were some parts that ended up sounding even better than being there live... any distortion was gone and I didn't have that slightly-muffled sound you get when wearing earplugs. Considering you usually spend some good money when going to a show, it's nice coming away from it with something tangible sometimes, too.

FROM: Tina
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 1:44:17 pm
Have you seen this? Instant Bootlegs.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 4:17:51 pm
Ryan--You listened to the whole show again? That's hardcore. Usually, I won't listen to a band's albums for a month after I see them, just so they can be fresh again.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Saturday July 19, 2003 -- 6:57:29 pm
I put it back on when I started driving home, intending to just listen to pieces of it, and before I knew it, it was over. :)

Tina -- Thanks for passing that along. Sounds pretty cool to me, even if it is owned by Clear Channel.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Sunday July 20, 2003 -- 11:14:06 pm
Dave- I was just at Cornerstone a few weeks ago. That's the brother/sister of Creation.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 20, 2003 -- 11:31:36 pm
Oh yeah..I havent been to Cornerstone in a few years, but I always had a blast. I'm planning on hitting Purple Door in PA in August. Now just to take the MD player and find my direct feed....;-)

FROM: Aaron [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday July 23, 2003 -- 7:28:07 pm

I'm surprised allowing tapings at shows isn't more common, especially for lesser-known artists. Many times I went to a show and wished I had a recording of it. I think that would be a great bonus for the concert goer.

Imagine a system where your ticket has a number on it and after the show, you can visit the band's website, enter in the number and be given access to an MP3 download of the show you saw. The goal of the number isn't to restrict access (as the MP3 could easily be distributed via P2P networks or other methods) but rather give the ticket holder a sense that they are getting something special extra. Maybe the MP3 is free (encoded at some decent quality rate) and the website offers the same show on CD, with some cover art that was unique to the show -- pictures of the band playing, photos of people in the audience rocking out, stuff like that. Hell, set up a booth at the concert that scans the admission ticket to get the unique number then lets concert-goers take digital pictures of themselves at the show. When the concert patron visits the website a few days later and enters their ticket number, not only could they download the MP3 of the show, but also peruse the photo gallery from the concert, and order the CD with their picture incorporated into the cover art. The idea is to create a personalized memento for the fan. It would probably also encourage the person to buy other stuff from the website too, like a concert t-shirt, poster, etc.

Many of the pieces of such a system are already in place. A lot of the clubs here in San Francisco have photographers (mostly amateur, some professional) take pictures at events which can be viewed later online. DNA Lounge is one, Qool @ 111 Minna is another. Putting unique numbers on tickets is trivial. Tying photos and other bonus materials to the ticket numbers is also trivial with all the existing software infrastructure. All it takes is some imagination and desire to give the music fan the best concert event experience possible.

In addition to all that, I think local artists can benefit from online archives of performances. I've been to a number of shows here in San Francisco where a local artists opened for the headliner. After the show was over, I wasn't able to find any info on the artist. Since the artist doesn't yet have a record contract (least of all with a major label), I can't buy his or her record/CD. I would love it to be able to visit the venue's website, get the name and a link to the local opening artist's website, then d/l an MP3 of their performance. I could send my friends to the artist's website to check out the MP3s. The local artist would benefit from the expanded fan base.

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