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09/05/2006 Entry: "Bootleg bounty - Hard-to-find concert recordings yours for the downloading"

Courtesy of the Boston Herald:

Want to hear Gnarls Barkley at Avalon again?

Love My Morning Jacket but missed their June concert with the Boston Pops?

Or perhaps youíve always wondered what that legendary 1977 Cars show at BU sounded like.

Good news. All the concerts listed above and much, much more live music are readily available for downloading online.

And itís free.

Collecting concert bootlegs used to require serious searching, combing through musty record shops or maybe even taking out a small ad in the back of Goldmine magazine.

The Internet has changed all that. And while sound quality fluctuates wildly, youíll be surprised what digital technology makes possible.

There are numerous ways to go about finding the concerts you want online.

For a smorgasbord of assorted music, try BitTorrent sites such as www.dimeadozen.org (which is where all the above listed shows can be found), bt.etree.org, zombtracker.the-zomb.com or www.torrent-damage.net. Most of these run on donations - something to consider if you end up using them often, but not required to get started.

Donít worry if youíre clueless about downloading and software, just check out the online how-to information. When confused, send a note to a site moderator; be friendly and patient.

Phish, one of the most heavily bootlegged bands in rock history, even offers an informative FAQ for beginners at www.phish.net/faq/qs-recordings.html.

Is it legal? Well, while the actual recording of concerts may not be legal (itís ultimately up to the performer), the circulation of cost-free copies falls into a gray area.

Mull the ethics if you like - or get started. Here are the basic steps to network your way into trading, using Boston fave Guster as our example.

1. Find a message board/forum linked to an artistís Web site, such as www.guster.com.

2. On Gusterís site, the message board isnít in the menu up top; find it on a separate list of features at the left side of the screen. You may have to register to use the board. Donít worry. Itís painless.

3. Scroll down through the forum headings until you find one about concerts or trading. Gusterís plainly labeled Tape Trading forum is the spot to look for shows and set up trades.

4. Snoop around to see what other people are doing. Are there direct links to downloadable files? In Gusterís case there are numerous links to the BitTorrent site www.archive.org. Youíre in business!

5. If you donít see what you want, ask. Explain your intentions, voice your enthusiasm, but donít ever offer cash.

The entire exchange is done in the spirit of sharing and a mutual love of music.

Thereís hope even if you lack the bandwidth to handle large files. Plenty of folks collect through the mail and offer recordings in exchange for blank CDs and postage. Give it a try. Youíve got nothing to lose and a world of live recordings to gain.

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Copyright 2001, Adam Stanley