This article presents the concept of virtual liveness and demonstrates its relevance in an analysis of ‘Vane’, one of John Oswald's plunderphonic pieces. It argues that even when encountering a piece of music that lacks a physically co-present audience, lacks largely unmediated acoustic sound and lacks a live performer, the term ‘performance’ may still be usefully applied. In these cases, however, the sense of liveness that invokes this idea of performance is often more virtual than actual. ‘Vane’ sounds not just like a combination of Oswald's two source recordings (Carly Simon's and Faster Pussycat's versions of ‘You're So Vain’), but like a new technological entity: Oswald's manipulations of his source material result in sounds that are decidedly ‘of the machine’, even as they invite us to sing along with Carly Simon's and Faster Pussycat's performances. We enter into a complex network of references between the performances represented in the original recordings and this new, virtual performance – the performance, ultimately, of a sounding cyborg.