Taping Shows In The Download Era

I just returned from going on tour, attending four Phish concerts up and down the cold, leafless east coast. I ran tape on the first three shows, setting up my stand and mics, and lovingly recording every note of every jam, but things have changed. Phish, like many other jambands, are now offering downloads of their live concerts for a nominal charge, and suddenly my hobby, which took hundreds of hours (and thousands of dollars) to master, can now be accomplished by anyone with twenty dollars and an internet connection.

Instead of a flood of envelopes and e-mail addresses requesting copies, I was met each night with a curiously sad look. Why would I want to continue taping shows when downloading crisp soundboard copies are so easily obtainable? Why go through all the trouble and hassle, not to mention spending all that money, to do something that is now so readily available, and rather cheap? For the record, it costs about as much to tape a show, including buying blank tapes and batteries, as well as service on the equipment, as it does to download a show. That is if you happen to already own thousands of dollars worth of recording equipment of course.

When I first started taping about ten years ago, I did it to satisfy a deep craving for complicated, improvisational music. I couldn

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