Electronic musician BT recently had US$150,000 in gear stolen from his studio, including his primary show computer with the entire This Binary Universe show on it and rigs for two other live shows and recording. He doesn’t just want to get his stuff back, though: he also wants to help musicians protect themselves from a similar fate. Few of us have studios worth anywhere near that amount, but losing your whole rig: priceless.

Among the loot: a Dave Smith PolyEvolver, serial #271, a Hartmann Neuron with BT’s patches, and a loaded Apple Mac Pro with This Binary Universe. All pretty priceless; the Neuron and PolyEvolver would be tough to replace and the Mac Pro has a whole show on it. To get them back, BT is offering a $20,000 reward or equivalent time as a producer to anyone with a name and address.

BT Theft Announcement and Proposals on MySpace

Via electronic music site Filter 27

And this would just be another painful gear theft story, except BT wants to go further:

  1. Protecting gear from theft: He wants to start a simple subscription service to register and thumbprint gear, so it can be easily traced to retailers and online auction sites. (Note that New York’s Sam Ash, for instance, does just this for used gear and coordinates with the NYPD, but with online sites, tracking just got a lot harder.)
  2. Giving music tech gear to the needy: He wants to collect new and user gear to give to musicians and producers who can’t afford it.

While the second one is an interesting idea, I’m not exactly sure how it would work here — and there are other, worthy organizations dedicated to this idea. But helping protect gear from theft sounds ideal. BT is looking for lawyers, musicians, and vendors to donate.

Know of similar initiatives? Or think you might be able to help with this? Let us know in comments. Know where BT’s gear is? Email gear@binaryacoustics.com

  • http://symbioticaudio.com W. Brent Latta

    What I find most powerful about this posting, and BT's response, is that he's not out to retaliate. A lot of the people responding to his MySpace page don't seem to 'get it'. He wants to change the circumstances, the paradigm, that made these people think that their only option was to steal.

    I think it is brilliant and am going to find out a way to help.

  • Gustin

    Man that's awful. This isn't the first time it has happened to him either. A few years ago while he was working on what would become Emotional Technology, he had a ton of equipment stolen from his studio along with tracks he'd done with Sarah McClaughlin and Peter Gabriel.

    BT's response to this tradgedy is awesome though.

  • Tom Brandon

    This is the second time that BT's had his studio nicked. Happened a few years ago after a profile in some magazine, if I remember right.

  • underbiteman

    I'm thinking he might want to move to a different neighborhood. BT, your old hood, DC area's got love for ya and our crime rates are lower than ever.

  • http://blog.whats-your.name carmen

    bad luck comes in threes.

  • Adrian Anders

    I remember the first time he had to cancel a USC appearance in Seattle… I was mad bummed at the time.

    Thieving rat bastards, I hope they get theirs.

  • Jim Tudor

    Karma will come back 3times to those damn thieves….

    BT has soem balls and is doing something about this…its about time! Im all for it BT!!!!!

  • Hungry Antelope Ape

    I feel for BT, and think he is being super cool about the whole thing.

    But, I have to question how you get $150,000 in equipment stolen? When you have that much equipment, it is usually insured, and the insurance company usually insists on serious security precautions. That, and all the big studios I have been too where locked up like fort knox. Especially after having it already happen once before.

    In cases like this, I would suspect that one of BTs "friends" probably stole the equipment.

  • curious

    Hungry, I was wondering the same thing. I heard once that NI had 50 laptops stolen when everyone was away at NAMM. Locks are one thing, surveillance (security) is another. IE, locks are not security. Obviously someone had keys and knew there were no cameras. All you need is one camera on each entrance and then let your peeps know that there is surveillance in place for their protection. Even if the cameras are down, an insider can never be sure.

    I also think the assumption that it was starving musicians who stole the gear is ridiculous! If there is a market for the gear, then its at risk period. Speculating that poor musicians are in the wrong thinking they need to steal gear is beyond naive especially considering this has happened to him before.

    Of all the thieves in the world, I would imagine the musical thieves to be the least likely to take his shit – not only because they share his challenges, but because they know the complications involved in selling it. More likely, it was a non-musician like a delivery person or random guest who saw a bunch of bling and was ignorant enough to come back and take it.

    I'll take a risk in saying it, but if he did have a policy in place, he would have to produce receipts and probably some amount of diligence to collect a claim. Since this has happened before, he may have to do everything he can to make sure he gets value back for the equipment. I read on his site that he sold his car to pay for This Binary Universe. He is also starting his own software company and may need that 150K to keep paying his programmers – send me to hell – but most of that equipment and the digital data it contained is replaceable and since we know he is a pro, surely had backups in place for touring!!

    I feel for his loss, but my innate skepticism suggests otherwise. I think the real goal of the press release style page is to protect his claim, not his gear. If he had any insurance at all. Free speech – deal with it.

  • http://symbioticaudio.com W. Brent Latta

    I think you're all assuming that the gear was stolen from a locked-up studio. There is little in his posting, other than the use of the word 'studio', that indicates where or how the gear was stolen. Someone could have easily broken into a moving truck, or something else that was hauling or storing his gear in between shows, etc.

    I used to work at a music instrument shop that had security cameras, alarms and grilled windows. That didn't stop us from being robbed by a group who had clearly cased the place. They simply backed an SUV through the front of the building, ran in, stole the stuff they wanted, and drove away all in less than 5 minutes.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    He describes it as a studio robbery, Brent, so I think that's what it means. But I'm with you — theft can happen really, really easily. And I don't see a myspace blog post as being BT trying to get more insurance money.

    I think theft is a big issue for all of us, and aside from insurance, it would be great to look at other ways of alleviating the problem.

  • curious

    Thats true…and if that were the case then his backups are likely gone as well. I would definitely like to help the effort he proposed, but honestly having purchased equipment from others myself I never pressured them about the legitimacy of their story. I probably should have, but cruising for a deal you look for good prices. Is the equipment stolen? Maybe we shouldn't buy stuff from individuals at all. And if a keyboard is more than $2000 then yeah there should be a consumer DB listing its serial number status – like with vehicle titles. It would have to be grassroots though and designed with consumer privacy and protection from information harvesting. If I disclosed or 'shared' for more 'security', my transfer of authority to another agency with that information is done so nervously. I think everyone including merchants would support a 3rd party group for consumer protection.

    Well hopefully he can turn this around and it looks he has found some inspiration in it – the mark of true creative genius!

  • http://www.psykoaktiv.net Scootside

    I guess it pays to be watching "It Takes A Thief" on Discovery. Heh, Good response to the crime though.

  • http://www.figby.com/ Michael Moncur

    Keyboard Magazine published a note from BT about this in the most recent issue. I believe he mentioned in that note that his insurance had lapsed.

  • http://loseitormusic.blogspot.com Justin

    it is about time that somebody took the initiative for something like the subscription service BT is pushing for. every time i apply for renter's insurance i am asked a series of surprised questions when i tell them how much music gear i will be keeping in my bedroom. it would be nice to have someone besides the skeptical insurance agency guaranteeing my gear's safety:) !!!

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