With the advance in storage technologies, many concert
recordings of various bands are now available from experienced traders.
This page details how to start your own CD collection, and is geared to help
those who wish to collect shows by the Grateful Dead, although these
instructions can also pertain to other "jam" bands, such as Dave
Matthews and Phish.
What is a B&P?
B&P basically stands for Blanks and Postage. This arrangement allows a new
trader who has a small or non-existent collection to acquire shows. In return for
sending blank discs with return postage, one can end up with excellent shows on CD.
It is important to note that shows are NEVER sold, and the practice of sending
more blanks than the show requires is frowned upon in many trading circles (including
How Does It Work?
An individual who has a show to offer will post an announcement. You apply and
are selected. Or you could post an appeal and garner a response. You are then given
instructions, and a mailing address. You send off the required number of blank CD-R
discs, along with a return mailer with sufficient postage. The trader takes your blank
discs and records the music onto those discs, and then mails them back to you. The
trader receives nothing in return for this service, except the warm fuzzy of helping
to spread the music.
How to Participate
The first step in participating in a B&P deal is to locate a B&P offer.
One thing to check before you reply to an offer, is whether the original message has
any replies. When a trader has filled his offer, he will usually reply to his original
message and append the word "CLOSED" to the end of the subject. Check to make
sure that the offer is still open before you reply. If a deadline has passed, please don't
reply or grovel. Honor the trader's request and keep looking. Once you've determined that
a B&P offer is something you would like to have, you need to quickly respond to the
offer. It is important that you do so in the manner indicated in the message. Below is a
typical B&P offer:
Subject: [etree] Umphrey's B&P
B&P of Umphrey's McGee 2000-01-28 (DSBD, 3 discs audio, Sony and TDK are preferred) to the
first three people who reply. If you haven't heard them yet, all I can say is you're missing
out on some crazy stuff. Please put "UM" as your subject if you reply.
There are several things in this offer that are important.
The first is the show being offered, 1/28/00. Also note that you'll need 3 blank discs,
and Sony and TDK are preferred. If you send other discs, such as cheap generic bulk discs,
they may fail in the traders CD burner, and he will have made three handy coasters for you and
you don't get the show.
Also, the time period is important. If a deadline was given and you can't send out your discs
in time, the trader will end up sending back your blank discs, and you will have prevented somebody
who could have met the deadline from getting the show. Most traders keep shows on their hard drive
to make copies, and don't want to keep the same shows on their hard drive forever. This is why they
like to conclude the B&P as quickly as possible.
A very important part of the above offer is that the trader will accept the first three people
that email him. This means that you must get your message off as quickly as pollible. Some traders
pick random requests, and stop accepting requests at a certain time. Please make sure you send your
request directly to the person that made the B&P offer, and not to the entire mailing list!
When you do reply, it helps to add some of your personality to the request. Even though some
traders accept the first x number of people, it helps if you don't treat them as robots. Messages
like "Sign me up for the B&P" don't help your cause.
You should hear back about the B&P request in a day or so. If you don't hear back, that
generally means that you didn't get in. Don't fret over it, just keep looking around until you get
in somewhere - sometimes it takes a little patience.
When you do hear back, you'll receive an email that will probably include instructions and a mailing
address. This message may look something like this:
Congratulations, you made my 1/28/2000 Umphrey's B&P.
Please send 3 blank CD-R discs to me (most branded discs work fine, but generics have
been known not to work). Please use my work address below, since I can't accept larger
envelopes at my apartment. Be sure to include a SASE (bubble) mailer as well as proper
return postage (attached) and a note telling me which show I am burning for you. Thanks
and happy B&P-ing...
American Production Services
123 Any Street
Seattle, WA 98119
Before you do anything else, reply to the message and tell the trader
that you acknowledge your acceptance and are preparing the materials for immediate shipment. Let
them know what your estimated timeframe is and how you can be contacted. Be sure to WRITE DOWN and
save the name and details of the B&P somewhere. Trust me on this one!
What You'll Need
To participate in a B&P, you'll need several things. You will be able able to get everything
you need at an Office Max or Mailboxes, Etc. to do your first B&P. you'll need the following:
1. 50 9x12 Tyvek Envelopes (#10 1/2) by Columbian (CO851) [Tyvek is
the material FedEx envelopes are made from]
2. A box of 25 Manco Care Mail Self-Sealing Bubble Mailers, Size 0
3. One package (25?) of Manco Care Mail address labels. These are
4. Ten TDK CD-R blanks discs, about $15. They say "Certified Plus"
and "All-Speed" on them.
5. CD Sleeves (Tyvek) or Clamshells (Plastic)
6. Standard index cards. These are optional.
Please bear in mind that these items may be available through other sources at better prices, but
many people like the one stop shop approach of an office supply store. Blank CD-R's can be bought
in bulk, often in spindles of 50 or 100 for far less than you'll pay for branded TDKs at an Office
Max. However, you need to remember that the discs you buy need to work in other people's burners.
The people doing the B&P will let you know what discs work for them, and everybody I've
worked with so far has accepted TDK. It is not necessary to buy "Audio" discs,
as these are the same as "Data" or "Computer" discs with licensing fees included
in the price!
Also, if you can find a smaller envelope than the 9x12 Tyvek for shipping there, that the
bubble mailer will fit into, use it. Some traders have a hard time getting the large envelope
delivered to their residence. And many people find that manila envelopes will work just fine, but
some prefer the strength of the Tyvek envelopes.
Try to avoid buying the mailers that are padded with paper fiber. They're usually brown
and say "To Open, Pull Tab". The Care Mail KPE-2, which says "Jiffy
Padded" and "Contains over 60% Recycled Fibers" is an example of a mailer
Some traders feel that these kind of mailers can contaminate the CD-R's with small particles,
especially since the packages seem to easily get statically charged and can rip when
Now, here's what to do with the assembled materials:
1. Jewel Cases will usually not survive the shipping, and add
significantly to the postage costs. So take the required number of discs
and place them into either clamshells or Tyvek sleeves. You can get some
Clamshells provide better protection, but are heavier than the sleeves,
and thus increase the postage cost. Most people find that sleeves work fine.
2. Put an address label on the bubble mailer, to reflect that it will
be coming FROM the trader TO you. Be sure to use a return address where this
mailer can be delivered to you. You can write directly on the envelope if you
prefer, especially if it will keep the weight under 3 ounces ($0.77).
3. Put the discs into the Bubble Mailer.
4. Write a short note explaining the B&P deal you've arranged,
including the show you are getting and your e-mail address. Be sure
to mention how happy you are that this kind person is willing to do this for
5. Put this note into the bubble mailer with the CDs. Do NOT
seal the Bubble Mailer.
6. Take a large Tyvek envelope and put an address label on it FROM
you TO the trader. If possible, put the show date on the envelope somewhere,
or next to/under the trader's name. You can also write the information
directly on the envelope, if you prefer.
7. Put the UNSEALED Bubble Mailer into the Tyvek envelope.
Take both of these envelopes to your local post office, or proceed as listed
below if you already know postage rates. Some people send their stuff from work,
where they have a postal scale in shipping. You can also take the materials to a
local commercial shipping center, like Mailboxes Etc., but you'll need to actually
watch them to ensure that they do everything correctly. Often, the person doing the
work will not be the person you talk to. Ask if they can take care of it while you're
there, or go elsewhere. If you find that your packages always cost the same to mail,
just use stamps in that amount.
Metered Postage BAD.
Mailing the Package
Please be sure to follow these special instructions for the Bubble
Mailer carefully, or you may not get it back. The larger Tyvek
envelope that you'll send out can use any manner of postage.
At the Post Office, have them weigh the bubble mailer, with the
CD-R's and note inside, and tell you what first class postage would
be for it.
Do NOT get metered postage for this package, as it may not
work for the return trip. Postal regulations require that metered
postage be used on the date issued, and only for traffic from the
originating city. In other words, they are only valid from that
Post Office, on that date.
Metered Postage is the strip of white adhesive paper that has
the Post Office name, date and amount of postage on it.
Should the Post Office decline to accept the metered postage,
the package will be returned to the SHIPPER, and in this case that
would be the trader. He would then have to either pay postage
himself or contact you to resolve the problem. This is a headache
you can easily help them avoid.
Tell the clerk that you need to put return postage stamps
on the package. Put the needed postage on the Bubble Mailer IN
Then put the bubble mailer UNSEALED into the larger
Tyvek envelope and SEAL the Tyvek. Put the required first class
postage on it (metered postage is OK here) and off it goes!
Going International? Be aware that your local postage can not be used to return the
package to you from another country. There are several solutions to this dilemma, the key being to
work out the situation with the trader in advance. You can always convert small amounts of currency
and send that along. Some traders welcome additional blanks instead of postage. Just be sure to ask
the trader how they prefer to handle international postage.
If it took you longer than 3-5 days to get the package out, you should send a notice off to the
trader that you've got the package in the mail, and remind him of the deal. Then all you have to do
is sit back and wait for the bubble mailer to come home to roost!
Reaping the Rewards It will normally take 2-3 weeks for your show to arrive,
sometimes longer, sometimes faster. Understand that most traders live normal, full lives like everyone
else, and burning a show for you can tie up their computer. Please be patient and keep checking your
mailbox. If you don't hear anything within a month, feel free to inquire about the status of your
B&P. Use your own judgment here.
When your show arrives, inside you will find your original CD-R's, only now they contain the show
you requested. (Note that some traders will send you back the show on different blanks.) Also, the
show may come back with no notation on what show it is. You'll need your note from when you sent the
package out (you DID write it down, didn't you?) to figure out what show it is. Most traders will
write small numbers on the inside ring of the CD to indicate the disc number (1,2,3).
I listen to the show several times for enjoyment and to get an overall feel for it. Then I do one
pass of critical listening, to make sure that the show is trade-worthy. I log any errors, anomalies
or other problems, and include that log in my future dealings with that show. I then email the
trader, letting him know what I thought of the show, and thanking him again for taking the time to
enhance my personal collection. I may also ask the trader any questions I have about the show, such
as lineage and sources, etc.
If I have any problems with the show at all, I contact the trader immediately to see if my CD-R's
reflect his masters, or if I got a bad copy. I let them know specifically what I'm hearing and where,
and what I think it might be. If you treat the trader as a friend who is helping you out, you'll get
a much better response than treating him unkindly.
You can also use software to track your CD-R collection and trades. We suggest
We hope the information we've compiled here helps you get started
with B&P's. Remember, B&P's are aimed at getting new collectors started. Once you've got
some good shows and the ability to burn copies, you can graduate to trading shows, and further expanding
your collection. Don't forget to offer up a B&P occasionally to the new guys!
Special Thanks... to EDceteraTM
for the amazing instructions and pictures this page was based upon. Thanks also to the community of
etree.org. Please forward any corrections or updates to the etree.org