main main songs + releases music the band news + press tours online

[what's new]

<-Prev : Trading Next-> : Brief history/landmark events

Back to the the FAQ index

4.7 B&P, Tape/CDR/DAT Trees

Trading physical media is pretty much obsolete in the current age of broadband
and bittorrent, especially since all audience recordings of the band can now
be shared at the Live Music Archive at:
The below is presented for historical purposes.

What the heck is a tape/CDR/DAT tree?

The primary purpose of a tree is to disseminate music and/or video to as many 
traders possible so that anyone that wants a copy can get one quickly. It is 
important to note that trees are FREE and no money can or should be charged by 
anyone in the tree. No profiteering.

Trees: A Step by step:
1) A seed source for the material to be treed is donated to the organizer of 
the tree. This source is usually the master tape/CDR/DAT that the material was 
recorded on.

2) An announcement is made that a tree project is starting up. The announcement 
is usually made on the newsgroup (ams-p), Listessa and/or other Web based 
bulletin boards.

3) There is an initial sign up period for all of those people that wish to 
receive a copy of the material. Instructions on how to sign up are provided in 
the announcement. There is usually a maximum number of people that are allowed 
to signup. ie: if you miss the announcement you'll likely not be able to get in 
on the tree structure (but you can still get the material; see below).

4) Once the sign up period is over, the organizer of the tree decides who will 
be a 'branch' or a 'leaf'. The number of branches and leaves is dependent upon 
the number of people that are in the tree. The criteria to decide who is a leaf 
and who is a branch is roughly based on 2 things: the perceived reliability of 
the people that signed up and whether or not they can make copies of the 
material for their leaves. If you can't make copies, don't ask to be a branch. 
Not everyone can be a branch.

5) When the tree structure is complete (see diagram below) it is posted to a 
public place for all to see. 

6) Based on the hierarchy of the tree, tree members begin to send their 
media 'up the tree'. That is to say: branches send their media to the seed 
(organizer) of the tree, leaves send their media to their assigned branches 
(ie: do NOT send your media to just any branch, send it to the one that you're 
assigned to only!). Once the seed makes the initial copies of the material with 
the branches' media and sends them back to the branches, the branches then make 
copies using the leaves' media and sends it back to the leaves.

(Note: Blank media means: blank tapes, CDRs, DATs or whatever)

Tree diagram: (All trees differ in shape, but here's the idea)

                ______*** SEED ***
                /          |      \
         sub-branch      Branch    \
         /       \      /  |  \     \
       Branch  Branch   L  L   L    Branch
       / | \      |                /  |   \
     /   |  \     +----+----+     /   |    \
    |    |   |    |    |    |    /    |     \
  Leaf Leaf Leaf Leaf Leaf Leaf Leaf  Leaf   Leaf

Explanation: The leaves send their blanks to their assigned branches and the 
branches send their blanks to the seed. As copies of the material are made, the 
material starts trickling down the tree to the leaves.

Invariably, there will be people that did not get into the tree structure, did 
not get the material initially, and now want to get a copy. The logical 
approach here it to contact any one of the branches or leaves and ask them for 
a copy. Two things to note: A leaf is not necessarily required to be able to 
copy the material, so not all leaves will be -able- to make copies. Second, if 
you ask a branch for a copy, their responsibility is to make copies for their 
leaves first before they make yours. So expect to wait a little longer than 
usual. Lastly, it is recommended that you don't ask the seed/organizer directly 
for a copy: they have more than enough to do already.

General rules of a tree: (See B&P rules below too)
1) Sign up during the sign up period. If you miss it, don't complain on the 
newsgroup incessantly. Wait 3 weeks and ask a branch or leaf for a copy.

2) Wait for the tree structure to be emailed/posted to the designated site. It 
takes time to organize a structure so don't badger the organizer.

3) 1:1 blanks or trades ONLY, no 2:1s or money exchanges (except for 
international: postage ONLY). 


International exchange notes:

International postage:
Invariably, there will be people from all across the world that sign up for a 
tree. A leaf from Country A cannot send a postage paid envelope to their branch 
in Country B because the two countries use different postage. In this case, 
instead of sending incorrect postage or cash, Person A will send a 
predetermined number of blank media to make up for the costs that Person B will 
incur for sending Person A's package back to them.

Approximate postage rates for international exchanges (August 2000):
  4 CDs in cardboard sleeves from US to FR - $3.00
  4 CDs in plastic sleeves from US to NL   - $3.00
  4 CDs in jewel cases from US to CA       - $4.09
  4 CDs in jewel cases from US to BR       - $5.55
  4 CDs in jewel cases from US to AU       - $8.15

Filling out Customs declaration forms:
When sending packages internationally, you will almost always have to fill out 
a customs form. They look different in all countries, but in the US and Canada, 
they are small, square forms that you glue onto your package. You can get them 
at the Post Office. The important thing when filling these forms out is that 
you always check 'gift' (not 'merchandise', that is reserved for companies 
sending things to you that you bought), and enter the value as the cost of the 
blank media that you bought (eg: US $1 per CDR). As a general rule, make sure 
that you mark an amount that is less than $15 US. Checking 'merchandise', or 
entering a higher dollar amount will cause problems that may result in the 
delay of the package, or in the recipient having to pay ridiculous taxes before 
they can receive it.

Postage within the United States:
When you are buying postage for the package that is going to be returned to you 
please be sure that you use either regular stamps or a printed sticker (from 
the post office's stamp printer) WITHOUT THE NAME OF THE STATE AND CITY that it 
was printed in. This is VERY important! USPS does not permit the use of printed 
postage with a source city and state different from the city and state that you
are sending from. For example, if I lived in St. Louis, MO and I got a label
printed with "St. Louis, MO" on it and the person sending the package back to
me lives in Chicago, IL, it will NOT WORK! The person that is sending back the
envelope will have to buy new postage and put it on the package. This is not

B&P's - Blanks and Postage:
If you hadn't already inferred from this discussion, the way by which a tree 
operates is based on the "B&P" methodology. B&P stands for "blanks and 
postage". The idea is that Person A sends blank media to Person B. Person B 
makes copies on the blank media and sends them back to Person A. Here's how it 

General B&P Rules:
1) Obtain the proper number of blank media.

2) Place blank media into a bubble-wrap mailer (see note below) addressed to 
yourself. Do NOT seal the mailer unsealed. Note that CDs should be sent either 
in paper/cardboard/plastic sleeves, or that multiple CDs should be placed in a 
single jewel case. Sending multiple jewel cases only adds weight & increases 
the postage.

3) Obtain proper postage and affix to the unsealed padded mailer. Please note!
This is the postage that the recipient of your package is to use to send the
finished CDRs/DATs/Tapes back to you. Please read the information on postage
written above!

4) Write a note on a piece of paper with your name, email address and the shows
that were agreed upon for the B&P. Place the note inside the inner envelope, 
next to the CDRs/DATs/Tapes.

5) Place padded mailer inside another mailer (manila envelope, another padded 

6) Address the outer mailer to your corresponding tree parent & affix proper
postage. This is the postage that is used to send your package to your tree 

7) Seal package & mail it.

9) Email your tree parent (the person you're sending to - the branch or seed) & 
notify that you've sent your blanks.

9) Wait for the music to arrive from your parent. 

10) Enjoy the music! 

** OR: **
2) Place blank media into a padded mailer addressed to your tree parent, and 
include proper return postage and labels with your/parent's addresses to place 
over the other addresses on the same mailer for its reuse and return to you.

3) Go to step 5 above.

Note about padded envelopes:
You may know that there are two kinds of padded envelopes: fuzz-filled ones and 
bubble-wrap ones. As a universal rule in trading you should -always- use the 
bubble envelopes. There are two reasons for this. The primary trouble with the 
fuzz-filled ones is that the fuzz stuffing disintegrates and there are little 
particles of fuzz all over everything. Before any recording or playing of the 
CDrs can occur you have to clean the stuff off the discs. This is troublesome. 
The second reason not to use fuzz-filled packages is that they provide less 
protection (ie: you discs will get damaged more easily). However, if you must 
use the fuzz-filled ones for whatever reason, wrap eveything that you're 
sending in a platic bag before you stuff it in there. Use the bubble-wrap 
styled envelopes only and you'll avoid the whole mess.

MP3'ing the treed material:
It is -not- cool to MP3 the treed material before  all the members of the tree 
get their uncompressed digital copies. The argument can be made that you 
shouldn't bastardize a digital gift at all by MP3'ing it, but that is another 
story best discussed elsewhere.

Main | Songs & Releases | Music | The Band | News & Press | Tours | Online

copyright © 1999-2021
Section corrections/submissions:
General site info/bugs: /
Get updates on twitter / connect via facebook. Like the site? Order something from Amazon. is in no way associated with or authorized by the smashing pumpkins, zwan, billy corgan, or any of their agents.