MPAA: The Grateful Dead's Success Was An Abomination Against Nature

from the one-way-to-look-at-things dept

One of the more annoying things we’ve found when discussing how the entertainment industry needs to adapt and change and embrace new technologies in place of their old business model, is the repeated claim that it’s impossible to make money if the content is given away for free. Impossible is a pretty absolute statement — and all you need is one example to disprove it. However, as we’ve shown, there are many, many examples of entertainers who have learned how to make more money out of giving away their content — which seems to disprove the whole “impossible” bit. However, the industry folks don’t seem to know how to respond to that, so they just keep saying it’s impossible.

Witness this bizarre exchange between John Perry Barlow and the MPAA’s Dan Glickman debating the future of the entertainment industry. Barlow notes that he made an awful lot of money as a songwriter for the Grateful Dead, which encouraged its fans to make tapes of its shows for free. Glickman immediately responds by saying: “It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature.” The problem, as always, is that Glickman has incorrectly defined his market — which is a scary thought if he’s supposed to be the leading spokesperson for that industry. He thinks they’re in the business of selling content. That’s not so. It’s too narrowly defined. The entertainment business is in the business of entertaining — and that can include many things that still involve giving content away for free for promotional value. We’ve discussed plenty of examples in the recording industry — and Barlow’s success helps prove that. In Glickman’s own movie industry the examples are even more obvious. They should be selling the experience of seeing a movie, not just the content. However, when Glickman says things like the idea that giving away things for free is against “the laws of human nature,” we wonder if this means he’s never received anything for free in his life. Does he turn down the free soda offered with the slice of pizza in the corner shop? Free dessert with dinner? Why that’s just crazy talk! Those restaurants must be run by anti-capitalist extremists. Their actions in giving away free food are against the laws of nature, and they must be on their way out of business.

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Comments on “MPAA: The Grateful Dead's Success Was An Abomination Against Nature”

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August West says:

Re: The Dead were extraordinary

I agree. The dead were extraordinary. There was nothing like the shows or the community (aside from the trustafarians and leeches). So according to Glickman, what the Dead di was inpossible. I guess the same goes for Widespread Panic, Phish, String cheese Incident (I could go on for a Loo-oong) time. Screw him and everything he represents. He’s got his head so far up his own ass he’ll probably never see clearly again…

AlphaOmegaMe says:

Re: The Dead were extraordinary

Of course this business model wouldn’t work with everyone. When we can thank the music industry for giving us such icons as Britanny Spears, Ashlee Simpson (what a joke), and the-whoever-is-the latest-winner-of American-Idol, what do you expect? I mean, when did music become something that only “pretty people” can do?

the Dead, Phish, Pearl Jam, et al. have a pretty good formula: Create new content, make a little money on your album sales, and then make a butt-load touring. Until we start seeing that from the music industry, we will all be mired in this waist-high garbage.

DSV says:

Of course, he would say that...

Of course, Glickman would say that. If all the artists and other “content producers” realize that they can make more money by cutting out the middle men he would lose his job – there wouldn’t be a MPAA or RIAA anymore.

If he were to agree with Barlow, that would be against human nature (the instinct of self preservation).

Dark Prince says:

Re: Re:

Global market advertisement…

Guaranteed market standards met…

Corprate grade attoernies to represent them…

Indentured sevitude to a label that cares only about how much money they can squeeze out of you before you become a burn-out…

Yeah, what can these entertainment industry giants offer bands?

Quite a bit I think. No the real question should be is the fame worth the price of pain.

Robert says:

Difference between material and digital goods

Glickman goes so far as to say ” Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not.”

Well if the car manufactures could develop a car and then make millions of copies of it without any production costs beyond the first product, distribute the cars without any transportation costs, and sell the cars without any distrubitors, salesmen, or high cost localized advertizing, then yes, they might be quite inclined to give away cars, or at the very least drop the price of the car to near nothing. Unlike the recording and movie industries of course who consistantly increase productivity per dollar and constantly raise prices. e.g. cd’s much cheaper than tapes to produce, yet prices doubled for cd’s, now digital distribution is ‘far’ cheaper, yet now they want to push price per song up far above the $1 ITunes pricing which already brings $12-18 per CD without any distribution or manufacturing costs.

And for some reason they don’t understand how everyone feels ripped off and angry at them? Go figure.

Mike C. says:

Re: Difference between material and digital goods

There is another analogy that Glickman completely fails to see. The Grateful Dead were not giving away ALL their content for free, just concert recordings. Apply that analogy to the clothing store and you get deals like “buy 2, get 1 free”.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I get the impression that stores do that to imrpove traffic flow and make up for the loss on greatly increased volume.

Anonymous Coward says:

Musicians should never give up control of the masters. I think everyone would agree that the majority of the movies, tv shows and music out there is not that good anyway. Musicians are in a unique position in that they do not need recording companies to ply their trade, unlike an actor that is dependant on the studios (unless they are stage actors). Back in the day bands gave away music in order to grow a following, and made money from their live shows. If no one showed up then they knew they needed to improve or get a day job. The labels hype everything like the new band will be the next Beatles, when in fact the new band will record one song that everyone will listen to for a few weeks and then forget about. If musicians would stop signing away their lives to the labels and look for ways to get the music straight to the fans, they could make money from live shows and maybe videos, then the big labels would rightfully wither away. Killing a lot of birds with one stone, getting rid of the big labels and keeping the non talented from mucking up the music.

Reformed Groupie says:

Re: Re:

If musicians would stop signing away their lives to the labels and look for ways to get the music straight to the fans, they could make money from live shows and maybe videos, then the big labels would rightfully wither away.

Despite all of this, many bands are still looking for that “big record deal”. They want enough money up-front to quit their dayjobs and buy a tour bus. They want to “concentrate on the music” and don’t want to bother with silly things like booking venues, promoting themselves through giveaways, maintaining a website, or calling radio stations. They are begging for a middleman prince to come sweep them out of the garage and into a stadium.

The reality is that there will be no more Madonnas, Metallicas, etc. The era of the long lasting band is over. Consumers have zero loyalty and we now have so many choices in entertainment that there is really no reason to bother putting up with (and paying for) “a couple of crappy songs” on each release. People will obtain the songs they like a la carte.

Musicians are now in pretty much the same place as painters. It’s fun and sometimes if you do something really good you can make a profit, but mostly it’s just a hobby. That doesn’t mean people will stop creating. It only means that the people who were only in it for the almighty dollar will stop peddling their crap.

Ethan B says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, you’re completely wrong about your generalization about music only being a hobby. Actually, you’re half right. Music will become more and more of a hobby for people as programs like Garageband proliferate. People that get hooked on that will inevitably need to pick up a real instrument so they can deepen their level of expression. There will be tons and tons of music made this way in the near future. Read “Free Culture.”

The main revolution in music is contained within the rise of the entreprenurial artist. Bands that are talented, promote themselves well and self-produce their recordings will thrive down the long tail. Here’s some math for you: a 4 piece band sells [the equivalent of] 10,000 albums/year [in downloads, merchandise, etc.] @ $10. They also tour their balls off, playing 100 shows/year, averaging $1000/show. That adds up to $200,000, split 4 ways. Reasonably assuming that costs even out with other income from teaching, royalties, engineering, that band is making a downright middle class income. People love being closer to the artists at this level and truly talented musicians have enough creativity to create a sustainable musical career this way.

“Concentrat[ing] on the music” means instead of working a day job, your day job becomes booking and promoting your own music. Every musician worth a damn will make this trade every day of the week.

It happens all the time and it’s going to be happening even more. I am a professional musician, engineer, and entrepreneur in Los Angeles.



Big Mean Dog says:

Re: Anonymous Coward MPAA

AC, you’re finally seeing my point! And the way to get your music to the fans is:


Remember when you were dogging MySpace? Are you female?

And I leave you with a quote from “NYC Streets” by Rebel Meets Rebel:

“You don’t need a f**kin record deal man, just listen to the music!”

Screw the corporation!

Brad says:

Re: Re: Myspace is a marketing tool

Just a small point of interest: Myspace is owned by Newscorp (the brilliance behind Fox News, etc) – by Rupert Murdoch. He paid over a half a billion dollars for it ($580MM, to be exact). Go Tom.

The site is a venue for testing the popularity of new bands. It is used as a marketing tool. It is not, despite all claims, a social networking tool, a place for “independent music”, or a cool place for 12 year olds to hang out and meet rapists. The bands’ “profiles” are generated by in-house Myspace experts, who do nothing but build profiles all day, generate fake “fan” profiles, and send out mass-friend-requests. Myspace has watched it’s actual user subscriptions and returns drop off in the past six months. Let myspace die, and find a place where you can ACTUALLY promote your music.

deepskystarlight (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Myspace is a marketing tool

If you want to hear free music from bands and musicians that are truly independently uploading and sharing their songs for free check out I know the two guys whose songs are the top two on the listener recommended list and know for a fact that they are just great musicians who are not affiliated with any record labels and are doing what they do because they love it. They don’t do it because there is any money in it for them and they don’t have any financial interest in the site either, it’s just a site for musicians to share their music with everyone. It is purely for the love of music. Enjoy and if you become a fan of Project Brainstorm or Rkr, tell them I sent you to them!

gsa says:

The worst part of that interview

The most infuriating part of that interview was this statement by Glickman:

“Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not. If they don’t make a profit in this world they’re out of business. That’s just the laws of human nature.”

Whaaa!? Clothing stores and car dealerships re-sell physical objects they purchase from a manufacturer. The media industry sells recordings with a per-unit duplication cost approaching zero. Even worse, by denying “first sale” and “fair use” rights they are actually claiming that you don’t own what you bought.

Screw ’em, I say, and good riddance. The sooner musicians and actors stop signing contracts to monkeydance for them the sooner we can all get back to creating culture. Besides, the problem isn’t paying the people making the movies and records, it’s paying the useless people in the middle who are just trying to exert control over other the work of others.

Howard (user link) says:

Re: The worst part of that interview

(quote from gsa) The most infuriating part of that interview was this statement by Glickman:

“Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not. If they don’t make a profit in this world they’re out of business. That’s just the laws of human nature.” (end quote)

Infuriating, indeed. That is a combination of the “excluded middle”, or perhaps the Strawman. It strikes as something that could be said only by someone who has never run a business. I do run a business, and I occasionally give away free samples — just today, I shipped a set of premium strings for free to a customer who had bought a bunch of other stuff from me, in hopes that he will like them enough to buy more (and tell his friends about them). If he and a couple of his friends switch to my strings, I will profit very nicely from the added business.

bubba (profile) says:

Re: Re: The worst part of that interview

Of course, this is often how you get new business. Taking the Dead as an example, how good do you think the quality of most live recordings at these shows were? Great novelty value and sentimental value, but many of these people would go and buy the album to get the quality sound. In the IT industry we constantly throw in free functionality in order to get the big account – seems like human nature to me – what’s wrong with enticing prospective customers with some free stuff? Glickman is off his rocker as usual.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The worst part of that interview

Even worse, by denying “first sale” and “fair use” rights they are actually claiming that you don’t own what you bought.

Which is why Sony is being sued by Cheap Trick and the Alman Brothers. If it isn’t a sale, and we are essentially “renting” or “licencing” their products, then the bands need to get the higher “licencing” royalty rates. If it’s not a “licence” than it is a sale, and we get to to do with it what we will for our own use as owners. Either way the industry is building itself into a corner it can’t work it’s way out of

benjamin says:

what a misleading title

I agree that the experience is always the best part of the entertainment. Especially, when the vendors are smiling faces and even friends. For example if the movie industry wanted to attract more peopple to go out to see the big screen, why don’t they lower prices on their vending products and advertise that they are doing so. I n turn it could help to lessen the myth of the movie experience. Cause you know it costs like four bucks for a drink at the movies these days. The industries need to wake up and serve the people. If you can’t sell tickets than why should I buy your album?

Derek Reed says:

RE: SuckerPunch-tm

There’s plenty of things the label/manager/takesadvantageofthebandguy has to offer still. Its just no where near the same level of profiteering that it has been in the past.

Somebody still has to take the band from the garage to the stage. Somebody still has to upload that music and update that web site. Somebody still has to negotiate the endorsements. Someone will still want to rub elbows with MTV (until they die too).

Things change. Cassettes didn’t do too hot this decade either.

Deal with it **AA.

PopeRatzo says:

Re: RE: SuckerPunch-tm

You should spend a whole day thinking about the comment you have made, then come back and report to us. Repeat until you realize that unless you are a label executive, there is no longer any purpose to major labels. Let them continue to put out American Idol retreads until they’re gone.

My guess is that by 2010, most music will bypass the entertainment/industrial complex entirely.

Chris says:

EDM scene

In the Electronic Dance Music scene, live recorded DJ sets float around the internet for free all the time.. I would NEVER have to buy music EVER if I didn’t want, and could still be up on the latest and greatest stuff. But These mixes make me want to go see the artist, and purchase their official compilations. I know the style and quality I’ll be getting because of the free stuff- the Grateful Deads strategy working on a global scale for thousands of artists..

elle says:

Ooops! You forgot to mention John Perry Barlow’s “good news” for the MPAA:

“The good news is that you guys are mean sons of bitches and you’ve been figuring out ways of ripping off audiences and artists for centuries…..”

If you want to have a free digital music/video/art culture, the only way to do it is to directly support artists that have chosen to distribute their work freely.

This means leaving behind the pablum you’ve been spoon-fed since you were a baby.

Unfortunately, most people would rather complain about not being able to get pablum for free, than actually explore and support the musicians and artists that distribute their work freely.

Some IT Bastard says:

Pro vs Con

The Dead are a great example of what can be done even while giving away free music…also the down side.

The Dead have a ton, I say again, A TON of free recordings to go around. Most are of live shows.

The upside is that if you got a free cd of a show, and you really liked it, and then went out and bought a cd, it was not as good as the live. So in order to obtain that free live cd experience, you have to go to a show. Ticketsales, ticketsales, ticketsales.

It only worked out because the Dead seemed to always be playing somewhere.

Now take some new band. They sound a lot like their CD live. Sure it is better to go see them play, but it’s not a write home to mom experience. They play one or two shows in your city every couple of years if they make it past one album, and they are forced to rely apon CD sales, and shirts, hats, stickers, etc.

If they had a live version of their music that was must see, and played enough shows to create a following…well then a couple of downloadable live shows for free would kick ticketsales up to another level.

Problem is the same for musicians today as it is for most people. They don’t want to work for their money. Nice contract that pays a nice signing bonus, % of sales, and a few million dollars later and why go on the road???

Tim Arview (user link) says:

Well, actually...

Not disagreeing with the concept here. You have a good argument.

However, I would like to point out some things just for clarification.

First, you say that Glickman said “It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature.” And then you say “Glickman says things like the idea that giving away things for free is against ‘the laws of human nature,’…”

That’s not what he said, Mike. His argument is not that “giving product away for free” is against the laws of nature, but that success from giving product away for free is.

Second, for those debating the “give all their clothes away for free” argument, he said all their clothes. This isn’t the same as a promo pack or other such marketing gimmick. His argument is that you can’t make money if you don’t have sales.

Again, I am not arguing with your premise, Mike. In fact, I agree with you. However, you should be careful when making claims like this that are certainly popular, that you don’t start a witch hunt.

Just my opinion.

Tom Denman - 25 Year TAPER says:

Re: Well, actually...

Well… I agree with your point that there should be accuracy in any such debates. However, the premise Mr. Glickman puts forth implies that there’s only HIS way of being successful. And it certainly doesn’t preclude it’s being wrong nonetheless. The fact of the matter is that the Dead WERE VERY ‘SUCCESSFUL’. It’s just a matter of their “product” being something in the first stage that was entirely different than what Mr. Glickman’s industry wanted them to be successful at. RIAA are now, and have always been a bunch of mafioso thugs who extort DUES from a vast majority of artists who will never be successful via their model of success.

I wonder if anyone here has ever been at a club where a small time act is suddenly told they can’t play because they do covers and their RIAA dues aren’t paid, or they’re not members. Granted it doesn’t happen a lot. But I’ve personally witnessed one such act of ‘against nature’.



Yet another Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The Dead are not unique

Late last year, the Arctic Monkeys gave away a few self-burned CDs at some local events, aka bar gigs. These spread like wildfire across the Internet. The next week, the bars where they played were packed. The patrons were all singing along. They didn’t have a clue.

The next month, they were #1 sellers on the British charts.

Therefore, this business model must not work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dave Matthews BAnd

I think they should look at the extream success of the Dave Matthews Band. DMB has about the most rabid following of fans ever (I believe even more so than the great Dead). DMB has a publicly published policy of allowing audio tapers at their shows, the tapers then in turn through their generosity, upload it to various dedicated websites for fans to download through torrents.

Any true DMB fan will tell you that their live shows are far better than any of the studio cuts, but even though all this free content is available, you would be hard pressed to find one of these fans who do not own the “studio” version as well as the “free” version.

For them it is a matter of keeping their fans happy and buying anything they produce. The DMB is truly a testament of how it should be done.

So tired...... says:

Yet again

A story about the poor people involved in the movie and recording industries. I feel awful that emerging technologies have impacted the sales on Bentley and Ferrari.

Oh wait…. they are still buying massive mansions in several states, private islands are the new trend, and rappers upgraded from gold ropes to diamond and platinum teeth.

I’m glad to see everything is still in order!


Peter Salzman (user link) says:

Lots of examples

There are actually lots of examples where a commodity, given away for free, generates additional income that wouldn’t be realized without the free sample…

  • Illicit drugs
  • Free food samples at the local grocery store
  • The “tour” and free samples given on pornographic sites
  • My first dance teacher gives the first lesson for free.
  • New York City studios give free dance lessons for one week out of the year which gets them tons and tons of new students.
  • When new newspapers open for business, they hire people to hand out free copies to commuters for a few weeks. Remember when USA Today was free?
  • Chiropracters often give away a free adjustments and massages to get people into their office

and the list goes on and on and on. Even test driving a car is an example of giving something of worth (the feeling of being behind the wheel) in an effort to derive income.

The music business is no exception. It’s just plain good biz. Plain and simple.


amarfresh (user link) says:

selling records vs. playing shows

most musicians will tell you that they get a higher percentage of ticket sale revenue as opposed to record sales (because talentless moochers and shysters get their cut as well.)

the dead played tons of shows. their music was an experience to be witnessed live. that was the nature of their success. like mike said, they were in the business of entertaining; not in the business of selling records. pop stars are created by labels who are in the business of selling records. meanwhile these pop stars couldn’t put on a show without huge production expenses. unlike the dead, today’s pop music sounds better on record. (did i just say record?! i meant mp3s from russia.)

Anonymous Coward says:

The MPAA and RIAA are dead to me. It would be nice to see their pomposity ignored and a national boycott of these industries. I personally choose not to pay, with money out of my own pockets, for anything either of these industries produce. If I want to hear a song, I hope they play it on the radio. If I want to see a movie, I wait to see it on television, or occaisionally see one by coincidence at a friends home. The only way we can exercise our muscle as the consumer of these industries and clearly let them know where we stand is to simply stop giving them billions of dollars annually. That, and only that, is what it will take to alert these tycoons to the fact that their customers are not the uneducated mouth-breathing simpletons they repeatedly label us as. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to let someone insult me publicly in exchange for making them rich. I got off that boat and you can too.

Rational Beaver says:

It's Funny...

“Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free?”

I laughed out loud when I read this because I have actually spent a good amount of time plotting to open just such a store. If local businesses were willing to pay to put their logos on the shirts, pants, etc. then one could, in theory, afford to give the clothes away for free…

Anonymous Coward says:

I have to say that a fantastic example of “giving stuff away” would be the site

pandora is an online music player that plays songs for free, the catch is that it picks the songs.

(You choose an artist or song, and it picks songs that are similar to what you chose.)

I am not positive who is behind this project, but I am very willing to bet that it’s big music labels that are trying to introduce their consumers to new bands/albums/genres in hopes that they’ll go buy the music (it included links to purchase these songs).

At least someone in the industry understands the concept of a free sample.

ccc says:

“thinks they’re in the business of selling content…”

Actually, their whole business model and the copyright law that made allowances for it was the business of reproducing and transporting content. Now that people don’t need them to reproduce and transport it, the industry is trying to reinvent its business model into selling the content itself – or rather selling single instances of access to it, all the while trying to claim that that was the business they were ALWAYS in, and radically changing the intent of copyright law to support it.

The crazy thing is that they are desperately trying to adapt from a dead business model to a stillborn one.

cory-apn (user link) says:

New Century Business Darwinism

The origins of the current business model for the recording industry goes back to the 1950’s. It has served those few people at the top the money pyramid well for so long, that instead of adapting to the reality of 21st century technology, they artificially attempt to extend it’s existence through legal actions and political lobbying. That may work for awhile, but the “laws of nature” (ie: survival of the fittest) will ultimately spell their doom. Sooner or later a new force will emerge to displace the MPAA and it’s anti consumer business strategy. That emerging force in fact, already exists.

Richard (user link) says:

The Dead's product wasn't records.

Yes, the Dead made records but these weren’t what they made their money from. They played a lot of concerts and that is where they earned their dough. The Dead realized that the recordings were merely ads for their profitable performances. Then, and now, the amount of cash that flows down to performers from recording sales is painfully low. The cash generated by performers filling 100 outdoor concert arenas a year is huge. The records weren’t the product, the music is.

August West says:

Re: The Dead's product wasn't records.

Agreed, their product was the show. I handed them my money every single chance I got? And do you know what inspired me to do this Mr. Glickman? A FREELY traded tape of their 5/7/77 concert. (not 5/8 for those of you counting. That came later) I was amazed at how much better they were live than on their records. It totally floored me. To this day, I’ve never seen a better live band that the Dead on a good night. That FREE tape was the beginning of a lifelong love of what they produced in stage that is going on now, and will probably go with me to the gravr. All started with a FREE tape, Mr. Glickman, you moron.

nomobrains says:

Some do it for love, and others for Money

The Grateful Dead Made lots of money. They sold millions of albums and have over 1,200 free shows you can download. The band Played on for 40 years. They loved their fans. their number one rule of recording a show-> They always had to have something better then you had. Of course some fans were blessed with a patch cable to the sound board. You can pay to download shows from their reels. They loved their fans. A MP3- your right- costs almost nothing. To put on a live concert- lets say to fill a 40,000 stadium for 2 days- could cost a million. there is a city bond- security- ticket sales, a deposit for the arena- ect ect… The Grateful DeaD,-for many years made more money then any other band- “while touring”. Moral-? Give away your music, but get money upfront when your going to have a great party 😉

ibeetle says:

Other companies have been doing this for years.

A month does not go by without getting a postcard from a business for something for free.

My wife gets a card from Bath and Body Works for free hand lotion, or from The Body Shop for free lip balm. Even Victoria’s Secret for the newest style of underwear.

We get coupons for free coffee from Barns and Noble. Coupons for free makeovers and makeup. Free music downloads from Connect, iTunes and eMusic.

We get free crap all the time. What is the big deal.

faithless follower says:

creative business models

There are some artists who are doing quite well by giving away their product. Jane Siberry offers all of her music as free downloads, with a “suggested” price of $1 per song. You can download free and pay later, or pay nothing and the song becomes a “gift from Jane”. The interesting thing is, only 17% download and never pay. The rest DO pay for the tracks, and the average price per paid track is $1.14, MORE than the suggested price.

I think many artists could survive quite well on a “tip jar” existance. Give away the product for free, but provide a PayPal link to the artist’s tip jar. Many artists would earn millions per album just in tips, and they wouldn’t have to split it with a crooked record company.

Or, an established band could get paid BEFORE releasing an album. Suppose U2 said, “We’ve got this great new album recorded, and we’ll release it free to the world as soon as we get $3 million in donations. “We’ll also give $1 million of that money to the World Hunger Fund”. They’d easily collect the $3 million in a few days or weeks.

In all of these scenarios, there is no middleman, and none needed. THAT’S what scares the RIAA. They are trying to legislate scarcity, when there is no longer a need for scarcity. Society (and the artists) are better served if everyone has free access to the music.

Maurice Tift (user link) says:

Re: creative business models

Apparently, that’s an excellent model since it worked for Jane Siberry. If it works and it’s simple and efficient, then there’s a great plan! Think about the simplicity. We have PayPal and the ability to download music quickly. When we hear something we like – we just pay for it. It’s efficient because it can be sold via viral marketing and the money goes to the artist without a middleman. There is something inevitable about a plan like this – like long distance phone service via the internet, cars replacing buggys (we still have horses) and light bulbs replacing most kerosene lanterns.

Jon "Moondog" says:

Re: creative business models

True or false: Jerry Garcia said “We already played that show…let them enjoy it if they like…”

If he said it or not, the point is clear, I did not go to all those shows to hear the same song done the same way and reproduce what I could hear on my own stereo at home. Each concert was unique, as is the expearance of listening to it. By puting a price tag on it is just plain wrong. Noone is going to starve because I recorded “Bear’s choice” onto cassette from my LP, and no one will if I e-mail Rat dog hampton, august 96, to Jesse Ventura. Stop Beating a Dead issue…We will still buy, sell, give away, and spread the love of our music…and create more that will do the same. Everyone wins.

Ginger says:


(lan-yapp) is what we call it down here in New Orleans . . . that little something extra. It creates good will and customer relationships beyond the mere transactional, it introduces people to new things that they might not have noticed before (and might want to buy in the future), and you know if you get it you’re gonna tell someone else about it and who gave it to you!

It’s been going on for many years, and it works favorably for all concerned.

haywood says:

Woody Guthrie's copyright

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

QQn00b says:

RIAA and MPAA what....greedy?

We all know that these lobbying orgs are nothing more than insurance for the Corporate “fat-cats” to keep getting fatter. The trouble is, artists continue to chomp the “rubber-boot” because they want money, success, fame, or simply to share their creativity with the world which inevitablydistorts itself into “selling out”. The Dead did this without selling out, which should garner respect and a new way of looking at the market, instead of clinging to the tired old dogma of “it’s impossible to make money be giving something away for free”.

I guess they (entertainment industry whores) are too stupid (caught up in a ecstatic greed-frenzy) to realize the simple premise of customer loyalty. Extend to the customer some goodwill and they will come back! It’s a simple concept.

Someday, perhaps enough people will agree that paying $20 for something that costs 25 cents to produce, package and market is just too much and maybe they will decide to take action against this. In the meantime, we will all sit around and complain about it. Maybe someday greed will not be the sole motivation of the entertainment industry, until then we will have to be creative in finding ways to lower our cost!


John says:

Re: Re:

Thoughtful post buddy. While you are obviously entitled to your opinion of their music, you seem to have missed the point of the article. BTW, do you stereotype everyone? Ever been to a Dead show? All kinds my friend. Lots of sober folks there too. (sorry, even though it is fine for you to not like their music, I need to defend against your stupid generalizations) Who is your favorite artist anyway? Brittany? Boyz to Men?

Bill says:

Sorry so long (that means please read the whole thing), it’s a reply I made in another forum about a totaly different subject, but it greatly bears on this and a great deal of Humanties inability to deal with, well, Humanity.

Oh, Oh;

United Nuclear got itself into trouble:

“May 5th:

An update on our fight with the CPSC – and their attempts to remove the necessary chemicals for our Hydrogen Fuel System from public use – will be posted as soon as we receive an update from our attorney.”

But I suppose, gotta protect all those jobs.

The whole of the oil industry, from the little guy on the rig all the way to the CEO of the company, the people who work at the refinery, the distribution network people, and finally, the lowest paid in the scheme, the gas station workers.

What would all those people do for a living if not for the oil industry?

It’s not like humanity is grown up enough to take care of them if they are not “properly employed”.

Everbody that can, should be properly employed.

Even if we have to invent jobs for them.

Even if it means that humanity should suffer because of it.

We as a civilization just are not grown up enough to accept any other way of life.

Maybe a few individuals are, but not the whole of civilization.

Think for a minute (or preferably an hour)

If all monies really did come from Government Institutions such as the Federal Reserve in the United States one could easily figure out what percentage of the monies brought into existance each year should be paid in taxes.

Instead of having this great big institution called the IRS, along with all the peripheral jobs such as tax lawyers, accountants and preparers; one could just direct that money straight from the Fed to the IRS (Which would now be just a couple people) and eliminate all the possible loopholes, cheating, offshore and other evasion techniques; and just make it all the more simpler.

And also eliminate all of those aforementioned jobs.

But no, it’s just not possible, because humanity would not tolerate these people going from pains in the neck to what humanity would see as “Freeloaders”

Humanity couldn’t possibly support these people unless they are doing something viewed as constructive.

How being a pain in the neck is constructive I’m not sure. But it sure beats paying them to sit at home doesn’t it?

Doesn’t it?

Look at it again, these people are not producing one iota of anything for society but they are still able to consume products and services from others who are.

What is it that is stopping humanity from harming itself and bringing sorrow upon itself by refusing to stop these kind of incredibly dumb practices?

Think I’m kidding?

Think again:

“Liberty Property Trust, which is building the 975-foot-tall Comcast Center, is seeking to change the building code so it can install the water-saving devices and have its skyscraper certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The 58-story Comcast Center could save 1.6 million gallons of water a year with the no-flush basins, advocates say.

But the influential Plumbers Union Local 690 has blocked the code change because the urinals lack water lines and therefore require less labor to install. ”

Figting to keep up the status quo, because Humanity just doesn’t know any better.

Back to the Economic Terrorists at United Nuclear.

Thank you Consumer Product Safety Commission for protecting us not only from the Evil Terrorist Chemicals, but also from the Evil Terrorists at United Nuclear, who are obviously just thinking of themselves with ‘nary a care what happens to the average person.

If you would like to help out the CPSC here is thier contact info:

To voice your concern over United Nuclear trying to “downsize” the Patriotic Oil companies:

Please, do it now, before it’s to late.


“Give me control of a nation’s money, and I care not who writes it’s laws…” Meyer Amschel Rothschild 1790

It is the same story here with the recording cartel, who would lose jobs if there were no middle-people?

What would you have these people do?

Only when society gives up on the Grand Illusion of it being necessary for all, or even just most, to work will Humanity be able to go forward in Civilization.

‘Till then it’s screw your neighbor to exist.

And screw more to get ahead.

Isn’t life grand?

Jezebel says:

The Russians are changing the face of the music in

If Britney Spears is what the music industry wants to feed us, as adults with money burning a hole in our pockets, then I’ll stick to my new best friend, that Russian site mentioned in the NY Times last week, with a convenient link right to the site. Thank you so much. I just spent the last week overdosing on foreign music, mostly Asian. When I decide what musicians are my favorites, I’ll go to a Japanese company that stocks all kinds of Asian media online, and I’ll buy the CDs that I want. I’ve done it before, since I can’t buy the music on Itunes or in any American music store. See I like to pay for my music. I just like to pay full price for music that doesn’t suck. The Russians have come up with a brilliant system. This new format, paying rock bottom prices for d/l music, will hurt the music industry like a nasty assed kidney stone at first, but it will pass, eventually. And I will continue to support the artists who don’t suck by paying full price for their work.

Tom Denman - 25 Year TAPER says:

Nice piece ... But on Mr. Glickman's historically

Dan Glickman stated – “It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature.”

Well, despite the ‘depth’ of Mr. Glickman’s reasoning, the Grateful Dead as I understand it were credited as having the highest gate receipts for more than a decade.

Of course, there’s no clear representation by Mr. Glickman that his organization and affiliates sink to almost any desperate act they can to protect their pie. Such as making sure their ‘artists’ show a nipple to our kids at superbowl games. Anyone remember Mr. Glickman’s remarks concerning THAT ACT ‘defying nature’? Probably not, unless of course you were tripping the monday after the event in question.

On a positive note, I have recorded more that 50 bands WITH THEIR EXPRESS CONSENT and distrubuted the historic record of their performances without ANY compensation. And with limited exceptions, nearly all of those bands/artists have gone on to be highly successful at the layer of the industry they occupied.

So you pick. Would you prefer to believe a man of the Stature of John Perry Barlow, who’s not only brought us great works of seminal ART, and gone on to define and protect our rights to free speech and acquisition of knowledge (the internet would be a VERY different place were it not for the efforts of Mr. Barlow and other great men with whom he plants his flag). Or would you prefer to believe a man who has a rather vested interest in making sure parents are goaded into paying hundreds of their hard earned dollars a year to purchase the product of talentless boy and girl bands, many of whom have no formal education in music, just because a good brainwashing was done on the kids?

Decide for yourself.



Billyboy says:


Its the greed of big bussness fatcats that suck the blood of the worker that produces this kind of philosophy. Screw the music industry. Popular music does not need any more advertsing than a free download. Screw the videos, the marketing blitz, the hype. If your a musician, all you need is music that people like, not some 17 year old writhing tart in a soft core porn short, to sell your product. Bands no longer need the recoed industry, I hope it dies a quick death (and takes corporate radio with it).

pat (user link) says:

The Jam Kids are all right

I remember well how the Dead remained one of the top grossing bands long after the rest of the scene they came from seemed to disappear from the map. Radio became fully corporate, MTV was all about hair bands and the Dead kept on truckin’. Must have driven the MBA’s who were running the entertainment industry crazy.

Now the Dead’s model has spawned a whole scene, where musicians can build their own fanbases and careers. They have their own awards show at MSG and huge festivals. Recording contracts are, if anything, an afterthought and not a thing that’s needed to get them started if they’re ever entered into at all. And they do it by giving away the content.

Rick says:

Mr. Glickman

Kudos to you Mr. Barlow.

I think the real point is to define exactly what it is you are selling. If what you are giving away is your only source of income and self-existence then yes; it would be somewhat against the laws of nature. Philanthropists defy those laws, but only after being in a position to be able to. Even then they usually don’t give it all away. Well usually not, one occasionally hears “stories” of those who have made great success before given everything away to go live as a street person.

Maybe Mr. Glickman needs to read Andrew Carnegies, “The Gospel of Wealth” where he describes his views on “the business of benevolence”. Carnegie, a man who spent the first half of his life amassing a fortune and the second half trying to give it ALL away wisely.

Few deny that money needs to be made by artists and even the industry. The Dead community has understood this for years. They have supported many more than just the band members through ticket sales, merchandise and of course music sales. I myself am a taper and avidly tape shows of bands that allow me to and distribute them to friends and acquaintances. I have even been known to show up at shows with handfuls of CD’s from the previous show to just hand out as goodwill. Yet I have a huge “store bought” CD collection, not to mention DVDs, video-tapes, audio-tapes and vinyl. Who among us don’t have “Dick’s Picks”, “Vault” shows, and so forth. Of shows that we could have (and often do) from elsewhere? Not to mention studio albums by the same bands. I do agree that there are some greedy bastards out there that only take the free things and not contribute. I think there are more though that will be responsible. I think this is the difference between the “laws of nature” and “human nature”.

Examples of some that do give a lot of it away for free… eMail (like Hotmail, Yahoo, GMail), Public Television, Live Music Archive (LMA), BT servers, LINUX, Shareware/Freeware developers… (please remember to help support services you use)

The industry is quickly changing. iTunes is just a start of the new revolution for sales.

Free music exchange will still continue. I still see taping sections at nearly all the jam-band shows I attend. (Admittedly these are getting smaller though because of the ease and availability of purchasing SBD’s and Matrix’s almost if not immediately after the show. Another one of the new waves bands now use for sales and distribution.)

So I ask you Glickman. What is it you have to sell? Is it only the live recordings of shows we were given permission to record in the first place? As you can see by Dick’s Picks (etc.) we still buy better copies of what we can have for free. WAKE UP! Most of us are still buying but do see an end to the tunnel coming soon if there is not a change in the industry.

Barry says:

giving away for nothing

I owned a Camera shop for 23 years and could not compete with the New York Prices. So I started selling cameras at cost. I made no money at all, however by selling the camera I got the customer. The customer then bought film, filters, lenses, tripods and all kinds of other accessories. In the end I made more total profit from that customer than if I had try to make more on selling the camera.

Michael Jones says:


Well, since everyone seems to agree that the Grateful Dead, among others, WERE wildly successfull while giving forms of their music away for free. I have a question that has to do with the future. If there was an artist that, while being talented, gave away free forms of his music and was better on stage than on CD, how much would you be willing to pay for a ticket? And on average, how many tickets would you buy? (An independent artist inspired by this forum)

Tim (user link) says:

Watered down...

I am the frontman for a semi-successful regional rock band and I can tell you that while “free” is still the way to increase your fanbase and get more money from touring, the unfortunate thing is that “free” is getting watered down a great deal. Myspace, Purevolume, and other music promotion websites allow the artist to share their music with thousands of fresh ears everyday. We have benefitted a great deal from these sites, the issue is that due to the inexpensiveness of recording technology, any 12 year old with a computer and a microphone can call themselves a “band,” purchase a friend-adder, and try to get the world to listen to their music. This in-turn takes away a lot of the fan-retention rate from the free disc or digital recording. People get tired of listening to every single free sampler, live show, or link to an mp3 that’s been thrown there way. While I agree that the digital world has been tremendously successful at putting a great deal of power back in the musician’s hands, the drawback is that anyone can call themselves a musician and use the same resources as some of the biggest bands regardless of talent or creativity, which creates a greatly watered down market. DMB, the Dead, and Phish came at a time when “free” was really something special and therefore truly exploited it as a marketing stragegy. Its becoming harder and harder these days to get people to try new music, even if it is free.

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