Tape trading

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Tape trading is an unofficial method of distribution of demo tapes encompassing musical genres such as punk, hardcore, and extreme metal. The practice which was most prevalent during the 1980s and 1990s, also saw people distribute recordings of live music shows. Tape trading was a postal system reliant, penfriend style nature of an underground network that relied heavily on the cooperation of fans of different musical genres worldwide as well as the acts being promoted this way themselves eschewing any copyright in order to further spread their notoriety. Acts that gained a following through this might land a record deal.

The ad-hoc system relied on a system of trust, meaning that tapes were swapped in a kind of honor system; those who did not subscribe to this ethos and received tapes without returning the favour accordingly would become known as 'rip-offs' or 'rip-off traders' and were regarded with scorn. Flyers advertising gigs, recordings and other merchandises for sale were often swapped in conjunction with tape trading. Music that had been licensed to record companies (therefore subject to copyright) and released in the format of Vinyl records, CD and MC (musicassette) was also pirated onto blank compact cassette medium and traded, although this was in infringement of both unofficial 'rules' of the network and actual copyright law itself.

Many traders would, unrequested, fill unused space on the C-60 and C-90 tapes of demos they compiled for...
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