Click here to go to a little FAQ page. It was created by Marisa, who very kindly let me copy this to my website.
HOW TO GET SHOWS
Let's start on how to acquire your first videos. You can:
a)try to film some shows, but that requires guts, a nice camera and knowing how to use it properly
b)buy some shows
c)ask traders to gift you some shows and audios in order for you to trade them, saying you're a new trader and asking help to start building your collection
Going back to the b) thing. There are people who sell their shows, you could buy some (specially the rare ones) and trade them. There's this website where people announce their new dvds: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/music_theatre/
If you can buy something there, I highly recommend that you do it, because very few traders buy their stuff, so, if you have something new, something almost no one has, you'll be able to trade it for lots of stuff! And you can always buy it from traders: many (including me) sell their stuff, so you could contact them.
Pretty much every late-2013/early-2014 video is rare, specially the ones that are still NFT (I'll get to it later). Again, if you can, I highly recommend you buy one or two dvds. It's just $22 (which isn't cheap, but it surely isn't expensive) and will certainly help you get a lot of videos, videos that you like and videos that might come in hand for another trade! Or you can buy from traders too. We usually sell at cheaper prices. I've bought videos from traders for $10, but I've also bought videos for $25. There isn't a rule, it all depends on the trader and on the video. If you want to buy a show to start collecting but have no idea what to buy, let me know and I can help you (e-mail me with what kind of shows you like, favorite shows, etc). Another good thing about buying shows: getting new shows becomes easier. Let's face it, no one likes to spend months and months 'hunting' for a show.
NFT shows are shows supposed to be not for trade (hence NFT). When you buy a show from a master, he asks that you don't trade it for some months, so he can sell some copies of the video. Some masters say their videos are NFT until a certain date, which means that, after a certain date, you can trade it; some masters say their videos should always be NFT. But they can't make you follow this rule. If you want to, you can follow it; if you don't want to, you don't have to. It's all about respect to the master, I can't force you to have it. For example, I follow the NFT rule when I get the video from the master as an act of respect, but some people don't, and there's nothing I or anybody can do. The 'easiest' way to acquire a NFT video is buying it, but you can also trade it with people who trade NFT shows.
VOBs are files that can be burned into a DVD. They are the files that a DVD contains, that's why they can be burned to a dvd. For example, if you have the vob files of Next to Normal 07/18/2010, you can use some programs, such as Ashampoo (the one I use), and burn it to a dvd. That way, you can delete the files from your computer, you have the video 'saved' in a dvd and most importantly: you can watch the musical on a dvd player, and not just your computer. Every DVD has the following files: the video itself, which are some .vob files that are about 1GB, each named something like VTS_01_1.vob or VTS_02_1.vob; and the small files, files such as VIDEO_TS.ifo that are about 64kb (though it can be more than 10MB some times). In order to burn it on a dvd, you need these two kind of files. Note that a .vob file can be part of the set of small files, but the name is a little different.
HOW TO ACTUALLY START TRADING
Go to http://musicalexchange.livejournal.com and announce you're a new trader. That's a livejournal where some traders announce their websites (I highly recommend that you get one. It's really easy to create one on weebly, even if you have zero experience on creating websites!), announce their wants, bad traders and other things. There are some new traders there, so you might get in contact with them!
Some people prefer not to have websites, and that's fine (this will keep their collection more private, but it will also make it harder for someone else to try and set up a trade with them). But what you should do is have a list of every video and audio you have. It doesn't matter if it's in a Word document, if it's a pdf, if it's on your website. Just have a list, so you can show other people. Don't try to set up trades saying what you want and what you will give the person, it's rude. Show them your whole list! Even when people say they're only trading for wants, I show them my whole list. But, to help them save time, I write in the email what wants of them I have, but I always show them my whole list, because they might find something else they want.
Also, be patient. We all have lives. I, for one, am not a machine that can answer emails whenever they arrive. I go to university and work two jobs. There are people who work 10 hours a day. You never know what's going on on the other person's life, so it might take some time for you to get an answer. Wait a little before sending another e-mail. Of course the other person might just have forgotten to ask your email, so I recommend that you send them another e-mail after a little time (I usually wait one week and then send them another e-mail).
And don't be upset if someone says they don't want to set up a trade with you. Maybe they don't have the time to upload videos, or they already have pretty much every video you have, or you don't have any video that the other person wants. It happens. My advice is, make your collection bigger and try to contact other people. Apart from unreleased videos, there isn't a single video that only one person has. So you can always try to find other people to trade with.
SOME LAST TIPS
Try not to post shows on youtube and give away free links. Of course you can do that, but it might attract attention to the trading community, and that's the last thing we want. Remember that bootlegs are illegal, so theater producers might want to sue everybody who trades/sells/records bootlegs. Even if they don't win, people who record shows will record and release fewer bootlegs, if they don't stop recording at all. So, please, if you upload a show to youtube, make it private and only send the link to your closest friends. And if it gets too popular, please, delete it (and reupload it, if you feel like doing so). You never know who will watch that bootleg.
And one last tip: always be polite and complete honest about what's going on. Honesty and politeness can get you very far! There are people on this community who I don't trade with because they've been extremely unpolite or they haven't been completely honest with me; and there are people here who I am more than happy to trade with, even give videos, because they've had really good manners with me :)