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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Speedy CDs aim to beat the bootleggers

US media giant Clear Channel Communications is hoping to beat the bootleggers, by launching a venture to sell CDs of concerts minutes after the show ends.

Clear Channel's Instant Live technology could print off dozens of discs - selling for around $15 (9) either at the venue or later - in response to orders from concertgoers, the New York Times reported.

The move is an attempt to battle rampant illegal recording of concerts, which retailers and music promoters complain costs them billions of dollars a year in lost revenue.

But Instant Live may still face a number of legal hurdles, notably complaints from the record companies themselves.

Cutting out the middleman

According to the New York Times, Instant Live will initially be limited to bands that lack a major record deal.

Established artists could be dissuaded by the fear that sales of live concert CDs could cannibalise revenues from pricier albums.

Negotiating song licences could also prove difficult, observers say.

Lawyers envisage few problems with the sale of small numbers of discs immediately after a concert, but Clear Channel has greater ambitions.

It wants more widespread and sustained release of popular CDs, and hopes to branch out into concert DVDs and MP3 sound files - both currently technically tricky to achieve.

Clear Channel's main business is in radio, and it plans to use its stations to promote Instant Live events - an alliance between broadcaster and performer that could be seen as bypassing record labels.

Bandwagon rolls

The idea of selling legimitate concert recordings is not entirely new, however.

A smaller New York company, DiscLive sells limited edition live CDs of concerts, and boasts of being able to produce 200 copies within four minutes of the end of a show.

It restricts itself to after-concert sales, thereby avoiding some legal complications.

And some artists have developed similar ventures of their own: some 100,000 fans of the band Phish, for example, have downloaded concert recordings from its website since it was launched late last year.

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