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--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: How do you feel about bootlegs??
Category: General Questions
From: Taylor Arthur (USA)

Well, how DO you feel about all the bootlegs out there of your stuff????

Pat’s Answer:

Here is something i wrote to another group of people on this subject a year or so ago..

This information is from Pat Metheny, written to Kevin Stussman for Pat Metheny fans on the Pat Metheny mailing list.

i thought i would write to you directly about this whole issue and maybe you can pass my thoughts on to everyone on the list too regarding the "bootleg" situation.

first of all, and this is important, i'm REALLY glad you all like the music so much. the fact that there is enough interest in our stuff that there even ARE bootlegs is notable to me.

my general thing is that i don't mind people trading tapes, although honestly, i don't really want to know or hear about people actually recording the gigs. this is ironic, i know. it's just that if i actually SEE tape recorders in the audience, or know that they are out there, i start to go into "recording mode" in the sense that i start to edit what i'm gonna play because i know someone is gonna hear it more than once. it literally, and dramatically, changes the way i play if i know there is a tape going. by the way, i have never denied being weird.

there have been people trading tapes of ours for years. i even know one guy, john kane, in massachusetts, who has dozens and dozens of things from all the way back. i thing it's fine.

bootleg cd's are a recent, and very different thing. the issue for me has very little to do with money: it is 100% about music and the very serious business (at least for me) of illuminating through music the things that i have found to be true. this process is very difficult. finally, at the end of it all, all i (or any other "recording artist" for lack of a better term) can really hold up as evidence of what we're about is those records that have our name on them.

when someone comes along and takes that away from you it, and misrepresents "it" by faking a product with similar artwork, etc. to the "real" ones, it is a big drag, to say the least. in this case i'm talking about the records that come from italy, the "sco" ones and the ones where they ripped off the radio broadcasts, etc.

the only thing i can say about the music on them, is that they are simply not at the level that they should be for my standards.i would never release them because i believe that i have a responsibility to not only maintain a high standard but to give everyone the best that i have. none of these, mentioned above, are even close to that. in a few cases, they really suck, and in ALL cases, the recording quality is a total joke.

we have tried to stop these things for a few years now. and it's true, if someone asks me to sign a bootleg, i won't do it. if i go into a record store and i see them. i take them. they are ILLEGAL. (and yes, i did this in japan, and no, i wasn't arrested. they can't arrest me for them stealing from me and all record stores know this.)

but, i know these records (mentioned above) exist. i'm used to seeing them around. just don't ask me to sign them or think that they are cool. to me, and i think i say for all the other guys on them, they are a drag.

but now, we come to something that goes to a whole other level. the recent concert in japan. i've heard that everyone thinks it sounds good. it should. it's not a board tape. that's me and rob eaton and david oakes mixing it from the 48 track tape for 4 days at a state of the art studio for a lot of bread. we prepared this tape to be the cap to our year of touring. all of us pretty happy with the result, looking forward to presenting in the form of a video that is something at hopefully the level that you guys (and us) are used to.

and then, within a month of it's broadcast in japan, (via some digital broadcast link we think), it gets stolen from us.

those other ones are a drag, and a nuisance. THIS one pisses me off. this is theft. it would be like someone got the master tape to a finished album, and putting it out with a stupid title BEFORE we did. (which they did, i mean, "autumn leaves"????) this has happened now for the third time. someone took the mixes from the japanese herbie video from pittsburgh and the japanese secret story video from new jersey and put those out over the last few years. again, that is our mix, from the multi track, stolen from us. it's not some "fan" with a tape or some "leak" in the crew. it's a company that, based on the presentation, obviously doesn't give a shit about the music or the band. it's a product for them and way for them to rip ALL of us off. but at least with those, we got to get our product done before they stole it from us. on the "autumn leaves" one, they even took that from us.

now the question a real fan will ask, which i guess i have to respond to is "why don't we put all that "other" stuff out ourselves or make it more available?" well, for me, it is a few things. first one, regarding the japan secret story thing from nj, i just didn't like it that much. i didn't play that good that night. is this selfish? maybe. but don't you guys want me to give you the best that i can? i don't i have the right to edit what "that" is myself? i mean, i know i'm sounding kind of whiny here, but the bootleg (s) on an artistic level, strip that "right" away. i honestly wish i played better that night and we would have made a big thing of it. the IDEA was to release it worldwide. but in the end, finally, for me the music just simply wasn't there at the level it had to be to continue the standard that we all work hard to attain. the herbie video? very complicated because of all the record companies involved. we are still trying to do it. but honestly, the fact that there are 2 records out there already as bootlegs of not only the same concert but the same master tape has made it unattractive to companies. we were robbed.

as far as making radio broadcasts into into cd's and people sitting in the audience with tape recorders and turning those into cd's. i don't know.....i think if we got into the habit of releasing stuff at that level, you all wouldn't dig us that much anymore. it's true, i hear us every night. i try to put myself in a position of someone who gets to see one concert a year or so.... i'm flattered, i guess, that some people would like to hear a concert in "wherever" ..... i only wish i could do more and had more time to present the stuff at the right level. finally, all i do know is that i HATE having stuff out there that has my name in big letters and stuff and having it suck.

as far as making more records goes, live or otherwise, it's hard. we take it serious. i mean, we work pretty much all the time, year round. we have to make em all as good as we can: i guarantee that if we don't do THAT, this whole discussion becomes a moot point.

again, i heard there was a question about what i thought about all this. this is it. trade the tapes. boycott the bootlegs. if you have to have em, don't buy them, tape them. once again, i appreciate the support that you, kevin, and all the people who you reach through your site show us. it means alot to me and without the kind of interest that you and people like you show in our work, it would be really hard to even survive playing the way we play.