Making Demo Tapes: : Under the Table

Singers rarely see or hear the recorded version of their own performances, unless the performance is broadcast or someone in-house bends the rules. Strict limitations are intended to protect the rights and royalties of the other singers and instrumentalists involved. But tapes are made—whether you know it or not!

PirateTapes: Persons in the audience with tiny microphones make and market the tapes. Rules haven’t had much of an impact in preventing the underground business. It isn’t hard to find the catalogs or “pirates” by checking the Internet and just asking discreetly. Advocates say little money is made and it is done to preserve the performance. Some conductors and singers say privately that they are grateful for the pirates. Others deplore the use of these illegal recordings. (See page 5)

Archive Tapes Made by Companies: Performing companies who have received public grant money must document with tapes that the performance(s) have taken place. Companies may also videotape new productions for archive purposes and are allowed to use these tapes under strict guidelines. Yet we routinely hear of companies passing archive tapes for use in hiring and firing—without the singers’ knowledge. Some companies do allow singers to have copies of these tapes, but when speaking for the record, have to say they do not.

Singers’ Tapes: Singers frequently make tapes on the sly for their private use. They plant friends in the audience or backstage with a DAT recorder. We’ve heard of tape recorders in the auditorium during rehearsal or in an open briefcase or purse.