The tale of how I earned my stripes, as it were…
My interest in live recordings was renewed when I stumbled upon the free stash at nugs.net. This is an archive of live recordings in .mp3 format (do not trade in this format though! see my Trading Rules for more on this) featuring artists such as Phish, the Grateful Dead and many others.
There are some great shows available here and I recommend that you pay a visit, download a few and add them to your music library. You can also buy music from nugs.net in the form of lossless audio files (specifically .flac) but these are not for trading just for your own use! They also sell the same files in .mp3 format (though I’d recommend you buy .flac and re-encode if you have to have the .mp3 for your iPod or whatever). Visit nugs.net to see the full list of artists whose shows are available either for purchase or free from the stash.
Anyway, listening to these shows got me thinking that a library of live stuff would be a nice thing to have. It also prompted me to crack open a box of old bootleg tapes and listen to them again. These sounded a lot better than I remembered so I’ve started to digitise and remaster these recordings with a view to making them available to trade – more on which later.
But nugs.net was not enough!
The Internet Archive
Now I had to get some more recent recordings by my favourite artists as well as seeing if I could track down copies of older shows, possibly even some shows that I attended. This led me to the Internet Archive, an excellent repository of live recordings – audience and soundboard – covering a very wide range of musical tastes. These are available to download in various formats and you can burn these to CD or just listen to them on your PC (you can also listen to audio streams of many of the shows). They sound much better on CD, by the way! I think it’s okay to trade shows (in lossless formats only!) that were downloaded from the archive but you should check their terms before trading – just in case.
I have downloaded some great shows from the archive but I found it was still not enough! I was desperately looking for some stuff by Pink Floyd, Genesis, Rush, IQ and various others who do not feature on the archive. Though there are plenty of bands represented there who perform excellent Pink Floyd covers – check out the likes of Particle andUmphrey’s McGee to see what I mean!
So my hunt went on.
Well, through etree.org who I had to visit to find out about the Shorten (.shn) file format, I found my way to Dime. Wow! What an absolute goldmine! Thousands of recordings, sorted and searchable by genre and available for download using various Bit Torrent clients. The key proviso being that you share what you download and maintain a respectable share ratio – visit the site for more details on this.
If you’re serious about trading, you should also visit Dime with a view to joining the community there but, be advised, it may take you a while to get an account as the number available is limited and you may need to wait for an old account to be deleted. The wait is worthwhile though and the sign up process is very straightforward.
I have downloaded and shared stacks of shows via Dime at the time of writing this. And it was through reading a comment on one of the shows that I downloaded that I reached my next port of call.
The International Echoes Hub
As the name suggests, it is mainly Pink Floyd stuff that is available here. And there are literally terabytes of audio and video files available.
The hub is accessed using a hub client which you can download from www.echoeshub.com. You need to create an account at the hub first and this is done very easily with an absolute minimum of information being required. Once your account is confirmed you can fire up the hub client enter your user name and password and that’s you connected. Thereafter you can get file lists from other users to see what shows are available and start downloading and sharing.
My first task on getting connected was to replace some .mp3 copies of Pink Floyd shows with corresponding lossless versions. I copied these shows from a friend using iTunes back in those naïve early days when I didn’t really appreciate the difference between lossless and lossy formats. The difference between the .mp3 version of “Welcome To The Machine” and the superior .flac version is like that between night and day! And the .mp3 version has now been consigned to the trash can of history!
Be sure to read and follow the rules of this hub and any others that you may join!
One other place I have found to be of particular use is the Furthur Network.
To be a part of this network you need to download and install their client. This Java based utility is a peer-to-peer sharing client which you can use to access and share the legal live music posted by the Further Network’s members.
There is quite a range of music available here though the main artists are again jam-bands such as the Grateful Dead,Phish, etc. You will also find a handful of recordings by artists such as Dire Straits, Pearl Jam, U2, REM, and others.
Most files are presented in .shn and .flac format but you will also find .mp3 files – these are acceptable for sharing on FurthurNet but you should not share these on any other network.
The Trader’s Den
I also joined this excellent site – www.thetradersden.org – whose mission statement is:
“to create an online trading site with an entirely new ideology. This site will be geared towards a certain kind of collector: those who feel quality and integrity are important.”
They also “offer a safe haven for traders frustrated with the dilution of quality in the trading pool”.
Based on the quality of the few seeds I have downloaded via this site, I have to say that they are succeeding in their stated aim. There are not as many shows offered here as on other sites but the quality of what is available makes up for that.
As with Dime, you need a BitTorrent client to download their offerings and you can see what I have to say about these clients on my software page.
You also have to register to use the site and the registration process is simple and well presented by the site. As always, read the sites rules carefully especially as these are more demanding than those of other site.
The Genesis Movement
www.genesis-movement.org is an absolute gem of a site for fans of Genesis and the solo careers of the band’s members. There is lots of historical information, forums, an artwork archive, amongst other things and there is also a Live Recordings section which includes lots of juicy torrents. If a bootleg of a Genesis show exists you will probably find it there.
It’s another one that I found later on in my trading “career” that has now established itself as a firm favourite.