It's not quite clear what a Bootleg is in the electronic music?
What's the difference between a Bootleg and a Mashup?

  • 1
    Possibly better asked on English SE?
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 21:46
  • Dr Mayhem - you're probably right but I wasn't quite sure I was going to get an appropriate answer there :)
    – tftd
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 19:19
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    What is the difference between vinyl and punk? Bootleg is about the legal status. Mashup is a music style.
    – liftarn
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 11:56

8 Answers 8


For a long time, in popular music, a bootleg has been an unauthorised copy of some music. That would include unauthorised concert recordings, copies of masters stolen from record company archives, or just cassettes dubbed from commercial LPs. At various points in history, you'd find bootleg recordings as vinyl pressings, acetate pressings for DJs, as professional looking counterfeit cassettes, as obviously home-dubbed cassettes swapped by fans, or sold at markets. Later, of course, cassettes made way for recordable CDs.

As Wheat says, the term comes from smuggling and dealing in prohibited goods (for example, liquor was traded by bootleggers during America's prohibition years).

In around 2001, a scene emerged that became known as the "bootleg scene", or the "boot scene" -- in which people combined two well known records to produce a pleasing combination. For example Freelance Hellraiser combined an instrumental of The Strokes' Hard To Explain and the vocal from Christina Aguillera's Genie In A Bottle, to produce A Stroke of Genius.

These "boots" were distributed as MP3s on the Internet, and also pressed as limited release singles. Since they didn't have permission from any of the original copyright holders, these were bootlegs in the truest sense.

However, it's important to understand that an unauthorised recording of a Rolling Stones concert is also a bootleg in the truest sense.

When the record companies realised the popularity and commercial potential of the early 2000s mix-and-matching-records scene, some of them went on to produce authorised music in the same vein. For example, Richard X's combination of Adina Howerd's Freak Like Me and Gary Numan's Are "Friends" Electric was released as a single, with the vocals re-recorded by the Sugarbabes, and became a big hit. 2 Many DJs's "As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. II" -- a continuous mix -- was audited for copyright use, and released officially with great success.

Once everything was authorised and copyright-cleared, it was no longer appropriate to refer to these as bootlegs, so somebody coined the word mashup. Two (or more) recordings are mashed up together.

It's also important to note that this doesn't have to be an electronic process. While most creators of mashups do use computer software to align samples to each other, some do it all with vinyl source material, and turntable skills.

  • Ah, this explains why mashup night at one of the local clubs is called “Bootie.” Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 6:57
  • Wow! is there any chance you are a music historian? Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 19:11
  • Nonetheless, I still hear both bootleg and mashup being used in electronic music. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 19:12
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    I'm afraid I've just been alive a long time...
    – slim
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:08

The term "bootleg" has nothing to do with electronic music, per se.

The term "bootleg", in general, means objects that are duplicated, transported and sold illegally.

In the music industry, the term "bootleg" denotes something that is used in violation of copyright laws, especially something that is duplicated and sold for profit when the person selling it has no legal right to duplicate it or sell it.

The origin of the term "bootleg" refers to smuggling; that is, transporting contraband by hiding it on a person so that the police or other authorities do not see it. It comes from the practice of a smuggler who hides small objects by stuffing them into the top of their boot or strapping them to their leg, underneath their trousers, and then walking through customs inspections or police inspections hoping that the objects will not be detected.

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    This doesn't answer the question, a link to the wikipedia page would be enough. Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 18:49

To sum up the answers: A "bootleg" mix, in the context you're likely referring, is a remix or mashup that is made without permission from the copyright-holders of the original music.


My experience from hearing the term tossed around on the BBC Essential mix and even around my dj friends, is that a mash up (or a boot-leg) is the ability to take a song (normally with no connection to the genre being mixed) on the fly during a set and mix it in without interrupting the flow or beat of the mix. Laidback Luke is a renowned mash up artist, and his live sets are incredibly dynamic due to how well he does mash ups. One recent mash up I heard was a Boards of Canada track mixed into a house set. The BoC track was incredibly ambient, but was supplemented by the dj with beats and a layered vocal track and was very enjoyable to hear.

All in all. Bootlegs and Mashups have many different terms, mostly historic, but, in reference to your exact question: "what a Bootleg is in the electronic music", it is what I described above.


Bootleg is a remix made using exclusively the final, full, integrated version of a song.

Mashup is a remix made using the individual components of a song (ie.vocals, bass, synth) and mixing, matching or integrating them separately.


A recording owned by the original artist of the song that is not been released. Copying or duplicating and distributing the unrelease version of the song without permission can be called bootleg and it is illegal.


Bootleg remix - is a term used when a producer remixes a finished song without access to vocals, bass, melody etc.

Remix - In a normal remix the producer normaly has access to vocals, bass, melody etc. And can remix them too, not just put a new layer of sound on it.


When referring to electronic music, especially on websites like soundcloud, a bootleg is a remix of a song which only has a beat, bass and some basic effects added.

A mashup is the mixture of two or more songs.

Example of Bootleg:

Example of Mashup:


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