Trading Recordings  > Beastie Q & A > HistoryHome  

Questions and Answers: realizes that there obvious ethical arguments with regard totrading of unlicensed recordings (aka bootlegs). Due to this fact we hereby do not endorse nor do we encourage people to trade concerts without the consent of the performing artist. However we feel that the trading of concerts is an interesting topic and one that fans would be interested in reading about.

How to Trade for Live Recordings

Having been intrigued and attracted to music that is commercially unavailable, many fans of the Beastie Boys have begun to collect bootleg concert recordings. Currently the trend within trading circles is composed primarily of cd-r trading; however, this was not always the case. Prior to 1998, nearly every bootleg recording was copied from collector to collector on audio cassette tapes. Despite the changes in blank media, there have been many consistent aspects of the hobby and will be discussed in further detail.

As someone just starting out, one needs to set personal collecting goals - for example, many fans prefer the Beastie Boys post-Ill Communication recordings while other fans may decide to focus their sights on collecting Beastie Boys concerts dating from 1994 to the present. A more specific goal would be to collect as many recordings from the 1998 Hello Nasty tour as humanly possible. Obviously as one's interest grows in the hobby, goals will shift or change. Having an idea of what you want to specifically search out is important because scanning through potential traders can be overwhelming.

The harsh reality of concert collecting is that it is difficult to start from the very bottom and build your way up. Fortunately for beginners or "newbies," as they are sometimes called, there are some established collectors who will happily duplicate their videos or cd-rs in exchange for blanks and postage. This transaction provides those without even one recording a foundation upon which to build. For better or for worse, there seems to be a movement away from these starter programs for beginners; instead, many collectors are simply charging a flat fee of $5 to $10 per disc for their time and cost of postage. Depending on your financial status, some newbies actually prefer to buy a handful of shows to jumpstart their collection and to improve their chances for securing upcoming trades.

Many collectors of Beastie Boys bootlegs have traditionally fallen into the trap of only looking for fellow fans to trade with. The problem with this is that after a while it becomes a situation where just the same old shows are being passed back and forth. To solve the problem and put some new life into the mix, collectors should venture outside of the Beastie Boys message boards and newsgroups. Take a lesson from the early gold prospectors of the 1870s: it is easy to find trace amounts of gold in places that everyone knows about, but to make the big score one needs to lay claim to an entirely new untapped area. In the realm of concert trading, gold is analogous to finding a concert recording which has not previously been discovered. With an undiscovered recording in hand, a smart collector can turn a small collection to an larger, more diverse collection within a week's time - time spent searching for the undiscovered prize is well worth the potential payoff.

Ship Carefully
Recordings Listed On This Website Are Not For Sale

The best places to start your search online are also the most frequently visited. Both the Trade and the Tape Trader Network serve the purpose of matching up traders with similar interests in music. The downside to these two websites is that many people, whom you may wish to trade with , are either too busy to reply or simply not interested in what you have to offer. Frustrated collectors often have to offer other items in an attempt to lure an unwilling person into a trade. Few collectors listed within those trading sites will accept your money in exchange for copies of their bootlegs; however, you may find success in offering to "trade" them a new DVD in exchange for the recording you want.

The hesitation and unwillingness for some collectors to sell recordings is that it seems morally wrong to them to accept money for bootlegs. This may seem utterly confusing and ridiculous to an outsider who cannot understand how a person could accept a $20 store bought DVD in trade, but would turn down the same amount in cash. It is the paradox of the trading community - it just has to be accepted. In many trading circles it is considered an insult to make an offer to purchase a rare recording, even if you are offering as much as $100.00 for it. More likely than not, the person with the recording will suspect you are working for the RIAA as an anti-bootlegging agent and will cut off all correspondence with you. It may sound crazy, but paranoia abounds within the hobby.

That paranoia is exactly what makes contacting and trading with strangers difficult and challenging. One of the unwritten laws of trading states that the person who initially contacted the other trader should send his/her half of the trade first. The first thought that goes through everyone's mind is "What if I send the money and the other person never sends the recordings?" It happens to every collector and sooner or later it will happen to you - getting ripped off is unfortunately part of the trading experience. It seemed as though the bigger problem was when compact disc blanks were $8 each, and now that they are less than twenty-five cents apiece, people do not seem to get as upset about the occasional dead-beat trader.

Also there are those who make up their own rules when it comes to setting up a prospective trade. At one time all trades were considered even and one disc was exchanged for another - then the tide changed direction and many people began requesting at least two discs in trade for every one disc that they would supply. With the advent of 100CD-R spindles for $5.00, traders decided that sending two discs for one was not an issue worth fighting about and caved in to the greedy traders. Another side-effect of buying CD-R blanks in bulk was that concert traders ceased sending compact disc jewel cases through the mail, and instead went to just sending compact discs. This method saved everyone money on postage, and reduced the global amount of broken jewel cases.

Disc at Once

Wealthy concert traders will always want to send their half of the trade as expensively as possible, whereas college students will try to get by as cheaply as they can. Postage and shipping decisions should be agreed upon prior to securing the trade. Both traders should contact each other as to how and when the packages are dropped into the mail. Also, both traders should e-mail each other when they receive their new compact discs or video tapes. A breakdown in communication is the number one reason why trades go bad (or some traders are simply just busy people and do not check their e-mail as often as they should). When this occurs, a smart experienced trader will remain patient and polite - if accusations and obscenities start flying, a person is less likely to ever receive the recordings they wanted.

If there's something wrong with the recordings, it is only right that the person who copied them make good on the trade. Well, what could go wrong? Perhaps the most annoying problem with trading CD-Rs is that beginners will burn their copies in the "track at once" mode. This will result in two to three second gaps in between the tracks. This is not real noticeable on a studio mixed recording, yet when it comes to concerts the gaps have driven more than one person into temporary insanity. To eliminate this altogether, the rule is always copy concert recordings using the "disc at once" mode.

With CD-R drives now writing discs at unthinkably fast speeds, digital flaws can occur from time to time. No one wants to get flawed recordings in the mail, so it is a good idea to always double check the discs you make before you send them off. If everyone looked out for one another, cd-r trading communities would thrive like the old tape trading circles did ten years ago. Back then the biggest concern was that a lazy tape trader would stick it to you by "high speed" dubbing the cassettes he was supposed to send. High speed dubbing often resulted in distorted vocals and lead to domestic violence.

Video tape trading has not changed a great deal over the last decade. To successfully duplicate a concert on VHS tape, a person must have two stereo HI-FI VCRs or a machine that is built specifically for copying. Video tapes rarely get broken in transit, but they do tend to cost more to mail. International video tape trading remains difficult due to compatibility issues between North American NTSC decks and European PAL machines but as more and more people are discovering the benefits of trading VCDs (video compact discs), problems with trading video footage abroad may someday be resolved. DVD burners are creeping into the homes of concert traders; however since there is no agreement upon standard for DVD burning, compatibility issues between all the various brands have discouraged sales.



Related Links: