New Pony Records
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. ‘You Can’t Hear/Buy This.’ Here’s Why:

    Once upon a time, there was this really good idea called copyright. It was created to encourage creative types — scientists, map makers, authors, and composers – to make their creative works broadly available to the rest of us. Back then, everybody pretty much agreed that creativity was a good thing; that humanity benefits from exposure to creative ideas; and that creativity builds upon the creativity of those who have gone before.

    We know better now. We call creative works, “intellectual property,” and we treat them like property: It’s mine unless you pay me enough to share it with you. The abstract “benefits” offered by a free market of ideas can’t match the tangible benefits – billions of dollars sloshing around our economy — we’ve gained by turning creative works into "intellectual property."

    So you can’t legally hear or buy these recordings because they’re intellectual property and they don’t belong to you. It doesn’t matter if you and thousands of others paid tickets to hear these performance played in concert. No matter how creative you think Bob Dylan may be; no matter how valuable you think his performances may be to us and to future generations; no matter how much you may believe music is a shared legacy connecting humanity across generations and languages; these recordings, and every note played since 1995, are intellectual property now. “How does it feel?”

    New Pony Records wants you to hear and buy these recordings. We offering a New Deal in copyright law which respects the interests of artists, fans, and industry alike. We want to take that stupid duct tape off Dylan’s face, but we’ll need your help. Poke around our website, consider our arguments, and add your voice to the chorus. Free the music.

  2. Who are you?

    We’re just like you; Dylan fans looking for more of our favorite music. We’ve been at it longer than most; some of us listening to, thinking about, and discussing Dylan’s work since the early 1960’s. We’re a group of traders, authors, scholars, collectors, and even some lawyers; all dedicated Dylan fans, fed up with the legal constraints on the distribution and circulation of these wonderful live performances. We’re doing something about it

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  3. Isn’t this whole site illegal?

    No. Despite the best efforts of the record and film industries, it’s still lawful to acknowledge the existence of, and even discuss, unauthorized recordings.

    It is illegal to sell unauthorized recordings without a license from the copyright holder. We’ve offered to negotiate a license with Dylan’s business people and Sony to offer these recordings and others via this website. We’ve launched the website now, without any discs to sell, to show you, Dylan, and Sony how it can be done.

  4. Why can’t I buy these discs right now?

    Sony, with exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute Dylan’s recordings under current copyright law, has not chosen to make these recordings available to you. We’re hoping to change their minds. You can help.

  5. How do we know you’re not just in it for the money?

    Well, first off, we’re a non-profit company, meaning we aren’t allowed to distribute any profits to shareholders. All profits must be reinvested in the company. Second, if there were a killing to be made in this market, don’t you think Sony would have done it already? Third, look at our prices. We’ve set prices a full 70% below the typical commercial bootleg prices for two-disc sets. Discount the commercial bootleggers’ profit still further for the royalty payment we’ll make to Dylan for each set sold – a cost of business the bootleggers don’t face. Finally, we won’t offer these discs in the usual retail music outlets or record clubs where volume sales are generated. So, if we’re in it for the money, we’re just plain stupid.

  6. What’s with the duct tape?

    Once upon a time, there was this really good idea called “fair use”…

    All the photographs of Dylan shown on this site were found on the web and copied from there. It’s almost impossible to find out who owns the copyright in photos found in this manner. We’re hoping the copyright owners of the photographs showing Dylan playing live will contact us so we can arrange to license their photographs. We’ve put duct tape across the faces to prevent others from copying them off our site and also to symbolize the “Fair Use” argument outlined below.

    The two bigger photographs of Dylan, on the home page and the crate page, are another story. Both those images include duct tape bearing words protesting the copyright barriers to hearing or buying Dylan performances such as are discussed on this site. The photographs underlying these images express Bob Dylan. Using duct tape banners, we’ve transformed these images to express our protest against the encroachments of commerce-driven copyright law and its consequences for the free exchange of ideas. Our images show Dylan – an artist and his art – silenced and constrained by copyright law. We don’t think we need to license these two images because we’ve transformed them into something new; something more and less than they were. If you (or your client) own the copyright to either of these images, we’d be happy to talk to you about them. If you don’t accept our fair use of these images, please don’t be surprised if you find duct tape across Dylan’s eyes as well, saying “You Can’t See This” either

  7. These recordings are already available through the trading community. Why isn’t that enough?

    For some it is enough. Most of us at New Pony Records have extensive collections of live recordings we’ve collected through trading over the years. Indeed, some are founding members of the trading community from the days of reel-to-reel tapes and typewritten set lists. We came to know one other, and have numerous other friendships, due entirely to the trading community. Nevertheless, we don’t think trading is enough, for two reasons.

    First, the trading community exists only to the extent it’s tolerated by Dylan and Sony and overlooked by the record industry and law enforcement authorities. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an unprecedented, highly aggressive legal campaign to prosecute and punish traders using peer-to-peer networks. P2P traders and disc traders differ only as a matter of scale. We support liberalization of copyright laws. But we’re also determined to show that there are legitimate market-based alternatives, like New Pony Records, which respect both copyright holders and fans.

    Second, the trading community reaches only a fraction of the fans interested in these performances. The community’s lack of transparency and accessibility simply do not serve the tens of thousands of fans for whom these recordings remain out of reach. The sales figures for Sony’s superb Bootleg Series volumes prove this beyond dispute. We think it’s time to share the wealth and turn on a bigger audience to the scope of Dylan’s artistry beyond his official releases. This website will provide the ease of access and transparency to reach that audience.

  8. Dylan made the music. Dylan signed with Sony. It’s up to them and them alone to decide what gets released, when and how.

    You’ve succinctly paraphrased the recording industry’s interpretation of copyright law. We just don’t buy it.

    When Dylan enters the studio to record an album, he’s recording performances in private that he will later sell to the public. He, or his record company, has paid for studio time, hired performers, and retained engineers to record their performances. As much as we might like to hear those performances, he is entirely within his rights to keep them under lock and key until such time as he sees fit to release them to the public. However, once the album is finished, sent off for manufacture and sold to the public, Dylan loses any right to prevent our listening to it. His music has become our music. He may have an exclusive right to distribute his albums, but he has no right to take them back once they’re ours.

    When Dylan takes his band on tour, he’s performing for the public and being paid for his performances. Those performances make Dylan’s music our music too. Why else would we pay to attend these concerts; driving long distances to stand crowded together and yell ourselves hoarse? His performance becomes our shared experience and he can’t take it back once it’s ours. Why are recordings of these public performances any different?

    These are paid public performances. They were offered to the public and the audience bought them. If Dylan wants to sell recordings of those performances, it’s his right to do so and we encourage him to get on with it. But it is a perversion of the purpose of copyright law to say it authorizes an artist to prevent the recording and distribution of paid public performances for all time. That’s a mouthful and an earful too. If you’re not convinced, go here to hear more.

  9. The guy’s already got more than 50 official releases in stores — a bunch of them live concert recordings. Does the world really need another 30?

    Elementary economics. The laws of supply and demand dictate that demand will command supply one way or another. A lot of people love this music and want to hear more. The illicit commercial bootleg market and extensive trading communities both show how far fans will go to find it. The customer’s never wrong.

    In a free market, competing record labels would be able to license Dylan concert recordings and sell them to the public, meeting demand and perhaps paying a royalty to the artist. Copyright law impedes this free market by creating a distribution monopoly. Without competition, prices go up and supply is constrained to keep prices high. “Market failure” ensues and a gray market — the commercial bootleggers – emerges to meet pent-up demand. We’re simply asking Dylan and Sony to respond to that demand. If they won’t offer these recordings themselves, then we think they should let a fan-based label like us do it for them.

  10. The Catalogue page shows thirty dates, but only 12 are active. What’s up?

    Every journey must begin with a step. Creating 12 separate album pages is time-consuming and expensive. Creating 30 only more so. We think twelve active dates gives you a decent idea of the breadth and depth of performances available. We’ll create thirty active dates if we receive the go-ahead from Dylan and Sony.

  11. Isn’t it unfair to Dylan to take sales away from his official releases with a project like this?

    You assume New Pony Records would diminish sales of Dylan’s official catalog, but that assumption doesn’t stand to reason. Does each new Dylan studio album detract from sales of earlier albums? Of course not. Sales from Dylan’s overall catalog have jumped with each of his most recent studio releases as more listeners become fans and more fans become fanatics.

    Radio stations and “greatest hits” albums institutionalize this new music “bounce” effect: You hear a song you like and you’re likelier to buy the album. Greatest hits albums lead to purchases by buyers who might never buy a traditional album, but they also lead fans to buy the artist’s albums they don’t yet own. Good music sells more music.

    Live albums are no different. Sony’s “Live 1966” generated increased interest in Dylan’s entire catalog, particularly in the studio albums contemporary to that concert. New Pony Records releases should have a similar, though smaller, effect for those tours not yet represented in Dylan’s official catalog. We don’t think you can listen to a live concert recording from 1979 or 1980 without wanting to revisit Slow Train Coming and Saved. So, as a general proposition, we’re quite confident sales of New Pony releases will increase sales in Dylan’s official catalog as well.

    One would expect the bounce effect diminishes as more tours are represented. For example, one would think a New Pony release of a 1975 concert would directly compete with Sony’s “Live 1975” among the general listening public. We don’t think so. First, we’re not offering our recordings to the general public via traditional retail outlets. The only way to find us is to look for us. Second, among those who look for us, even concert recordings from the same tour are not seen as substitutes for one another. Sony’s “Live 1966” was a superior commercial release of what was probably the single most popular recording within the trading community and the commercial bootleg circuit. Within months of that release, an eight-disc commercial bootleg boxed set, “Genuine Live ’66,” emerged with dozens of tracks recorded during that same tour in inferior quality, selling for prices in excess of US$200. Thousands of copies of “Genuine Live ‘66” sold and thousands more circulate in trading circles. To New Pony’s customers, a March 1995 live recording is not a substitute for June 1995 recording, let alone a 1997 recording with most of the same songs. You hear one, you’re going to want all three. Good music sells more music, especially among fans.

  12. Won’t New Pony Records interfere with their plans for more Bootleg Series official releases?

    New Pony Records will certainly have to adjust for Sony’s future Bootleg Series releases. Our license proposal contemplates asking Dylan and Sony to set aside certain performances reserved for future release by Sony. We want to see more Bootleg Series releases ourselves and have no interest in impeding them in any way.

  13. I think Sony’s Bootleg Series concert recordings from 1964, 1966 and 1975 are great. They know what they’re doing and how to do it. Just relax and wait for Live 1979, Live 1988, etc

    Sony’s Bootleg Series is great. We love it and we literally can’t wait for more. Jeff Rosen, the Bootleg Series producer, deserves our heartfelt thanks and respect for the tremendous work which has gone into each volume. The sound quality, packaging, and inserts set the standard for retrospective releases.

    That said, it’s a fair bet these recordings never would have reached store shelves in Dylan’s lifetime without the knowledge that inferior copies of these recordings were circulating widely within the trading community and popping up as commercial bootlegs. Knowledge of that demand prompted these retrospectives and will determine how long they continue.

    But we can’t wait. Several factors are working against any acceleration in Bootleg Series releases from Sony. High production standards are time-consuming and expensive. Each release needs to sell a very high volume to justify its production cost. To effectively market these recordings and reach the volume of sales they need, years must pass between releases.

    In the meantime, thousands of Dylan fans are searching the trading communities and bootleg distributors for more of the music they love. Among the Bootleg Series’ high standards is a reliance on multi-track professional concert recordings. In the forty-plus years Dylan has performed in public, the number of concerts recorded to these standards number in the dozens at most. The number of audience recordings circulating in the trading communities can be numbered, literally, in the thousands. The Bootleg Series is simply too mass market oriented to ever meet this demand.

  14. These are audience recordings! You want us to pay for audience recordings?

    Yes, New Pony Records will be offering audience recordings for sale. We would all love top-notch flawless recordings of these concerts, but they simply don’t exist in most cases. All of our releases are high quality audio which capture the sound and spirit of the proceedings, but they aren’t flawless. Audience recordings are generally made under very trying circumstances and, occasionally, recording flaws result which simply cannot be filled.

    That said, many very experienced collectors (us included) simply disagree with the bias against audience recordings. Audience recordings present the performances as those in attendance heard them. There’s crowd noise during songs and the applause between songs is faithful to the moment. The exchanges between performers and audience; sometimes verbal, but most often simply the shared joy in the music, set these apart from studio recordings and soundboard mixes. These are the real thing, documenting not simply the performances but the experience itself. An acquired taste perhaps, but all the sweeter for it.

    Now, by all means buy your ticket and go hear Dylan play live next month. You’ll run the same risk of standing beside a drunk fan who tries singing along or inane small talk from the Joneses who are there simply because it’s the place to be. But you can’t buy a ticket to hear Dylan’s incandescent “Solid Rock” from 1979; swaggering “Tangled Up In Blue” from 1988; or prayerful “Mr. Tambourine Man” circa 1995. All that’s left of those moments are these recordings. We think they’re well worth the price and we’re confident you’ll agree.

  15. I’ve heard Dylan has been recording all his own concerts since the early 1970’s. Why not use those recordings?

    If a comprehensive archive indeed exists, we’re happy to license those recordings too.

  16. Why only live concert recordings?

    You have to start somewhere. We hope Dylan and Sony will grasp the opportunity we’re offering and give us a chance to show what we can do. We hope they’ll be pleased and realize there’s a lot we can offer which simply doesn’t fit the mass market business model. We’d love to put together a collector’s edition boxed-set containing the complete “Basement Tapes” sessions, including the original artist performances of the songs they covered during those sessions. We’d love to do something similar with the “World Gone Wrong/You’re Gonna Quit Me” sessions. Dylan’s performances during these sessions are a passport to a musical world now largely lost. Collector’s editions such as these can bridge worlds in a way which may have only limited commercial value, but are likely priceless to those with ears to hear. We’d be happy to launch a “sketchbook” series of comprehensive outtakes from each studio album which would follow the development of individual performances – not the kind of thing that gets radio play, but of significant interest to serious fans and posterity. So, let’s start with some great concerts and see where they take us.

  17. Didn’t Dylan himself once dismiss all the fan traders and collectors, telling you all to “get a life”?

    Did he? Well, we won’t tell Dylan what to play if he agrees not to tell us what to listen to.

  18. If these are all audience recordings, aren’t these recordings technically stolen property? Don’t concert venues and tickets always say that recording the concert is prohibited?

    Yes and yes. But listen to these recordings before taking comfort in the strict letter of the law. Perfectly enforced, the laws you mention would have silenced these recordings. These performances, and hundreds of other priceless moments from Dylan’s performing career, would have been lost forever. Thanks to a bunch of brave petty lawbreakers with tape and disc recorders stuffed in their pants, these performances survive and will continue to stun and satisfy generations far beyond our lifetimes.

  19. People who record these concerts are thieves and parasites. I resent the idea I would be supporting them by buying one of these albums.

    Then by all means don’t. But think about it. Right now, many of these recordings are being copied, traded, or sold without any royalty payment going to Dylan. We propose to sell these recordings and pay Dylan a royalty on each copy sold. So buying one of our releases supports the artist, not the taper.

  20. Sony and Dylan would be idiots to agree to this. You start selling remastered audience recordings and they’ll be counterfeited, ripped and traded across the globe in no time. Why should Sony abet more bootlegging?

    Excellent point. This is the single greatest obstacle facing our effort to bring this music to a broader audience. There’s no question the music industry is in crisis and the crisis is largely of their own making. The majority of music fans are disenchanted and resent the inflated prices they’ve been charged over the years. Many see free downloads and CD-R’s as an opportunity to balance accounts, but most will eventually shun the free download circuit for reasonably priced and easily accessible alternatives. Nevertheless, the industry has changed forever. Record companies used to be the front men for artists, but the means of production and distribution of music have shifted irrevocably to the masses, and now record companies are often just middle men. They don’t command customer loyalty and no amount of industry-led prosecutions will restore respect for the copyright laws they’ve twisted so entirely to their own purposes.

    New Pony Records is another product of the digital revolution. We’re a fan-based non-profit with no ties to the record industry. As individuals, we’ve spent decades at the outer edge of copyright law, collecting, documenting and preserving wonderful recordings the industry and law enforcement would deny us. As the copyright wars have raged, our loyalty remains entirely and steadfastly with the music. We think we can stay true to the music and its fans without denying Bob Dylan’s legitimate right to payment for his effort. And we think fans will recognize our success is their success. If Sony and Dylan like our results, they’ll make more recordings available for all of us. If Sony finds we can’t control counterfeiting and piracy of our releases, the source will dry up and we all lose. The only place to buy New Pony releases will be right here. We’ll encourage fans to let us know when counterfeit or pirated recordings show up and we think fans will effectively police piracy because they’ll understand it’s for their own benefit. If we can’t convince Dylan fans that we all stand to benefit from New Pony Records then we shouldn’t be in business in the first place. If it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago. It’s terra incognita. We think it’s worth the risk and we hope you do too.

  21. Won’t traders just burn copies of these discs and keep trading like they did before?

    Some probably will, but past experience suggests the vast majority of fans know what’s what. When the Bootleg Series Live 1966 was released, thousands of copies of the bootleg which inspired it — Guitars Kissing and the Contemporary Fix – were relegated to closets and dust bins as fans ponied up for the official release. Within days, Guitars Kissing disappeared from trading lists and efforts to sell or copy it were met with derision from the trading community. Dylan’s fans respect Dylan and won’t begrudge him honest pay for recordings they value.

  22. Why pick on Dylan?

    This is something of a chicken-and-egg question. Whose fans would you expect to come up with something like this? We’re galled by the sanctimonious blather of the current copyright debate and the dysfunctional market that’s resulted. We don’t think P2P, iTunes, or more aggressive industry-driven prosecution is going to do anything to preserve and celebrate the music we love. So we’re going to find our own way. We’ve taken his phrase, “to live outside the law you must be honest,” to heart and we’re willing to stand by our principles.

    We know these recordings are a niche market well below Sony’s corporate radar. We think fans can do a better job serving this niche than Sony ever will. We know that our alternative model needs to respect the interests of Dylan, Sony, and Dylan’s fans so we’ve set it up to do precisely that. We’re not the record industry. We’re not star-struck sycophants. We’re not looking for free music and we’re not fools.

    Dylan’s management and Sony aren’t fools either. The integrity they’ve shown in their retrospective releases and their tolerance of the trading community over the years are pretty strong evidence they’ll grasp what we’re offering much quicker than would many of their peers. Dylan, his management, and Sony/Columbia have all been on the cutting edge of industry advances over the past few decades. There’s every reason to believe they’ll take this opportunity to lead once more.

  23. What if they say NO?

    We haven’t come this far to accept “NO” for an answer. We’ve run the idea by Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen, once already and he politely declined, probably thinking we were just another half-baked parasitic project looking to ride Dylan’s coattails. We’re back, fully baked, to show we’re serious. But we also have a “Plan B” and a “Plan C” meant to tease the envelope still further. “Things should start to get interesting right about now.” Stay tuned.

  24. I wish (NAME THAT BAND) would do something like this. Why don’t you ask them instead?

    Clever you. We’ve been known to listen to other bands and genres of music ourselves. We’ve made contact with several to explore the idea of doing something similar with their catalogs of unreleased recordings. We have confidence in our business model and believe it’s inevitable that other bands, orchestras, and musical groups will try their hand. We begin with Bob Dylan because he’s close to our hearts; because his live catalog so obviously begs for broader exposure; and because his organization has demonstrated a level of sophistication and enlightenment that suggests he’ll pioneer this new direction as he has so many others.

  25. If you’re a non-profit, can I get a tax deduction for buying these discs?

    No. We’re non-profit, but we’re not a charity. We will reinvest any earnings to improve our operations. Eventually we hope to launch a charitable foundation to collect and preserve a comprehensive catalog of original master audience recordings in conjunction with university libraries. At that point, we can talk tax deductions.

  26. My old boyfriend taped a concert from the Isle of Wight in 1969. I kept the tapes after I kicked him out. I don’t even have a reel-to-reel player to listen to them anymore. What should I do with them?

    Drop us a line. We can put you in touch with university collections equipped to preserve and archive important recordings such as these. If we can talk Sony into letting us license the recording, we’ll give you free copies. You can decide whether to give one to your ex-boyfriend.

  27. Can I buy a shirt with your logo on it?

    Glad you asked. Even without having discs to sell, we have expenses creating and maintaining this site. We have three different t-shirt designs in mind; one, with our logo, for sale right now; two others, using images from the "Home" and "Crate" pages are only available on a subscription basis. Go here to learn more.

  28. What are these prices?

    Since we can’t yet legally sell any discs and don’t have an agreement with Dylan and Sony on their licensing fees, the prices we've listed are simply target prices.  We're hoping to sell two-disc sets for US$18, standard shipping postage paid.  Sales to customers outside the US reflect prices of the CD's only, not including shipping.  Target prices for various currencies:  13 Euro; 9 GBP; 1750 Yen; or 1,000,000 Zimbabwean Dollars with shipping additional.