Ongoing History Daily: The Era of the Bootleg, Part 1

Back in the days before MP3s, the most popular way to get unauthorized recordings was on something called a “bootleg.”  You know, just like bootleg liquor.  Bootleg records and CDs were, essentially, the way music piracy was conducted before peer-to-peer file sharing. 

They contained live performances, demos, outtakes–all kinds of stuff to which the general public wasn’t ever supposed to gain access.  But thanks to some interesting copyright laws in places like Italy, Mexico, Germany, and Singapore, there was, for a time, a very thriving bootleg industry.  For example, there’s a very famous series of Nirvana boots called the Outcesticide series.  VERY good–and they still show up on eBay. 

And here’s a question: who started the whole bootleg phenomenon?  The answer next time.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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