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Over the past week or so,  BitTorrent definitely became my favorite method of downloading live & rare music.  I did a considerable amount of online research -- and printed out a number of how-to's and FAQ's -- so I could tweak my computer system to achieve the highest download rates possible.  Early yesterday,  I even upgraded my software to the highly-touted Azureus,  a Java-based client.

By far,  my favorite BitTorrent site/tracker to use was EzTree.  With over 100,000 registered members,  they had a huge variety of shows from all types of musical artists with the 60's represented just as well as concerts taped as recently as a day or two ago and everything in between.  As well as having many of my favorite artists including U2,  Eric Clapton,  Fleetwood Mac,  it was the only place I'd found to download rare Marillion recordings that I was actually missing from my collection.  I also found a number of more obscure artists that I was interested in such as Porcupine Tree,  Kino,  and many others.  Many tapers who had previously horded rare recordings became a fan of EzTree and were finally converting and uploading these shows to share to the community.

Aside from just downloading the shows it was fun to "talk" to like-minded fans through the site's forum and the external e-mail list.  I found a few long-time tapers from the Kansas City area who began sharing their previously-uncirculated recordings from there  (I always like to download shows that I actually attended).  And I met a lot of people from elsewhere as well.  One of the features on the Azureus software is a tiny national flag indicating the location of any peers connected to your torrents;  I had fun watching this for a little while yesterday as I saw downloaders/uploaders from such far-flung places as Switzerland,  Japan,  Switzerland,  even Zambia in addition to the usual suspects of the U.S. and U.K.

But all good things must come to an end.  Without any prior notice,  the servers at EzTree were suddenly shut down yesterday afternoon.  Apparently,  their German service providers had received some letters from lawyers threatening litigation.  This came shortly after several highly-publicized articles touting the legality of this type of downloading  (while most BitTorrent sites are fairly careful to include just "trader-friendly" musicians, EzTree had a policy of allowing all artists unless they specifically sent them a letter asking their shows not be shared).  Personally,  I think a big reason is all the notoriety they received by having the first shows of the newly-begun U2 tour available so quickly.

As a consequence of this shut-down,  many BitTorrent enthusiasts jumped over to some of the other sites such as The Traders' Den or Bootcity,  causing their servers to crash under the sudden influx of traffic.  And EzTree's e-mail list went absolutely crazy with everyone talking about what had happened;  I subscribe to the "digest" version,  meaning that I usually receive one or two e-mails per day containing 25 messages each -- but since around 3:00PM yesterday,  I've received upwards of 20 of these 25-message digests!  It was quite a mess that probably won't be cleared up for a while.

The only other really big BitTorrent tracker right now  (other than the two mentioned above)  is  This should actually be the one I use most since I'm now a setlist administrator for their traders' databases,  but the focus is more on the various "jam bands" like The Grateful Dead,  Phish,  etc. rather than the classic & modern rock sounds I've always preferred or the more progressive stuff I enjoy as well.  I do like a lot of the bands at etree,  it's just I prefer more of a variety of artists when I'm browsing for a new show to download.

There are also a number of smaller,  more focused trackers,  which concentrate on a particular musical genre or individual artist.  I recently stumbled across ToriTraders for Tori Amos shows,  Pearl Jam Bit Torrents,  and #rusties for Neil Young shows.  Of course,  there's still Jungleland for Bruce Springsteen shows  (actually I've been a member here for a year or so -- it was my first experience with BitTorrent before I knew was I was doing;  it never was the best source of the newest audio shows which I tend to grab from the binary Usenet group more than anywhere else).  And a new tracker dedicated to U2,  at should be going live any day now.  And there are many more -- perhaps I'll add a comprehensive link page to my website.

Yes,  BitTorrent is still alive and well even with the demise of it's largest tracker.  Hopefully,  the smaller players will be more careful and just include the "safe" artists.  It will decrease the huge variety of artists available  (and I often found it fun to discover shows by artists I would never have thought anybody collected their live recordings),  but will probably bind the community together even more than before.  And that can't be a bad thing at all.