This paper offers an introduction to a distinct group of musical consumers: bootleg collectors and tape traders. It begins by defining the types of recording under discussion before outlining some of the discourse surrounding the collection of unauthorised recordings. Bootleg collectors and tape traders exist in a relationship of mutual distrust with the legitimate music industry: collectors view the industry as a barrier to musical experience while the industry views these collectors as at best a nuisance and at worst as having a detrimental impact upon official sales. The paper argues, however, that the relationship is in fact more complex. It shows that through an intensification of discourses of authenticity, collectors of unauthorised recordings actually provide ideological support for the recording industry, helping valorise musical commodities and thus maintain a dialectical relationship between collectors and the legitimate industry.
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