Hoarding Live Audio

April 11, 2019

I’m a huge Dave Matthews Band fan, specifically their live music. Studio recordings generally don’t do much for me, although their newest album Come Tomorrow is pretty great. Thankfully, DMB is taper friendly - i.e. they allow you to freely tape their live shows. It turns out there are hundreds of artists that allow concert attendees to record the shows.

In learning that DMB allowed recording and trading their live shows, I set out to get my hands on every single recording I could. This turned out to be very difficult. Most of the shows are only shared over bittorrent, which requires the shows to be seeded. A number of various websites do a great job of making the torrents themselves available (thanks antsmarching!), but you’re still relying on the end user to seed.

I ended up spending a lot of time pulling down about 1.2TB of DMB shows, only to find that there was no particular naming scheme to the files and there was essentially no structure to the whole thing. Of course, the lack of order is not unusual when you’re talking about trying to organize hundreds of folks over multiple decades. What I’m working on is a set of scripts that will be applied to these shows and ensure that there is a structure in place for naming schemes, information about the show, and audio tagging. On top of that, I am working on scripts to automatically transcode the files from old formats such as shn to a more common format such as flac.

I am embarking on a project with a few other music hoarders to collect and make available, permanently, any live music we can legally get our hands on. The legality is key - we’re only interested in bands who allow taping at their shows, as a part of this project. Of course, between you, me and the NSA, I love the bootlegs as well, but won’t be hosting them on the site we’re building.

Of course, we can’t build this alone, so we’ve been connecting with other Music Hoarders across the globe. I’ve started shipping large hard drives and I’m even delivering an old NAS to someone tomorrow, so they can load it up with their 50TB collection!

We’re going to be building out a distributed object store to host all of the files, allowing us to move away from BitTorrent and to something much more predictable and sustainable. The music will be made available perpetually, across multiple locations, and then fronted by a CDN (to be determined). We will build a powerful search engine and enable you to download multiple shows at a time, with ease.

Funding this, is a whole other problem I’m working out. This will NOT be cheap to build or maintain. We are talking hundreds of TBs of music, across multiple regions, then backing all of that up. We’re talking about thousands of hours of coding, manually organizing our initial datasets, spot testing for quality, building a supportive community that is friendly, etc. Unfortunately the traditional funding models for a site like this would be a paid membership, but we can’t make money (nor do we want to) by trading or offering these recordings. Most band’s taping policies explicitly state that you can trade shows as long as there is no sale. More than likely, we will have to make due with donations.

Of course, we’re not asking for donations yet, nor do we even have a MVP to show. You’ll see that coming from me in the future.

If you have any interest in helping, supporting us or contributing live music, please reach out to me on Twitter or Email. We need coders, file wranglers, data entry, etc. We need people with actual tapes, DATs, etc, we need people with the skillset to do digital conversions of old analog formats. Basically, we need lots of people who are willing to help.