Tonight, Pier-Hocking is running a pair of MBHO KA100DK omnidirectional microphone capsules (via a 603A capsule attachment) into “a home-brewed” PFA phantom power adapter by way of a set of newfangled “active” cables, wired up by a colleague on a web forum for live-performance recording aficionados. (Most still refer to them as tapers.) Along with a feed from the venue’s soundboard, the microphone signal runs into Sound Devices MixPre-6, a digital multi-track recorder.
Sanctioning an official section in the audience for tapers in 1984, the Grateful Dead became known as the most taper-friendly band in the world. By then, Deadheads were already modding microphones, building their own preamps, experimenting with DATs, publishing phone book-length tape catalogs, and exploring internet-based distribution networks. More than anybody else, it was Deadheads who built the infrastructure on which the modern taping world operates. And, perhaps, it was the Grateful Dead’s enormous and resolutely nontraditional success—and critical rediscovery in the early 21st century—that provided one tipping point for taping’s new acceptance.
Others see the future of taping as going legit. Frank Zappa infamously re-bootlegged the bootleggers, and Pearl Jam has been releasing every show on CD since 2000. More recently, sites like Bandcamp have also allowed artists the flexibility to post live sets for sale as they see fit, as electronic artist Four Tet did this fall. For the past several years, Cafe Oto, the renowned London venue for jazz and experimental music, has sold selected live sets as part of its Otoroku series. Others have used live-streaming as a promotional tool, from bar bands with selfie-stick-mounted iPhones to global stars.