Trading live shows – good for our music?

Update 8/04, 8:45 a.m.: Owing to a number of reader requests, we have enabled commenting for Megan’s post. Comments are moderated, so they will not appear immediately, and we require a simple, free registration in order to post them.

This post is a contribution from Megan B. Lynch, fiddler with 3 Fox Drive, and a respected instructor at fiddle camps all over the US. Megan was inspired to contribute this commentary after giving some consideration to the growing availability of file trading sites where fans can make live shows of their favorite acts available for others to download.

“Hey, anyone out there got New South shows from 2004-06? How about Rhonda, anything with stuff from the new album? I’ve got a bunch of Blue Highway and Alison that I got with my minidisk – good stuff! Oh, and I uploaded most of it on this site, so just take what you’re looking for, and enjoy!”

Sure, go ahead. Take what you’re looking for. The bands and songwriters responsible for that music don’t mind. Most of them just do this for the fun of it. That and the driving. They love the driving. All night to a festival, then two sets and back in the van to the next show. Barely making enough to pay for fuel. Hoping to sell a few dozen CDs to make sure the other band members break even on the tour. So it’s fine if someone records the whole show, uploads it to a site for everyone to have, no cost. And what a bonus if the band plays a bunch of songs from the new album. Whew! That saves $15 bucks!

Turns out that there are a number of websites that are facilitating exactly this kind of thing. I must admit, I was surprised. I figured that whenever people wanted to upload music (mostly live shows, usually without the permission of the festival, and often without the permission of the band) they would ask. Nope. Apparently, if we don’t want them to do it, we have to contact them. We have to find all the sites, figure out how to contact the people running them, and let them know they don’t have permission to trade the illegally-obtained music. Huh? Who would have thought?

I know many bands allow, even encourage, recording of live shows. I respect their choice to do so. (I do still have some concern for the songwriters involved – but one issue at a time.) But for bands and musicians who choose not to allow it, I find it disturbing that the process is backwards.

So, let this be my call to all bands and musicians. Choose for yourself – but understand that this is happening, and it could be happening to you. Log on to, and seek out the others. Let them know where you stand.

Megan B. Lynch, 3 Fox Drive