Grateful Dead Label Demands NPR Feature Story To Blog A Grateful Dead Song

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

If you haven’t followed the “MP3 blogging” scene, it’s grown quite big over the past few years, to the point that most folks (including the record labels) have effectively turned a blind eye to the copyright questions it raises (for once, this is a good thing). In many cases, record labels even treat some of the best music bloggers similar to the way they’ve always treated radio DJs — sending them promo CDs and trying to get “air time.” Most music bloggers don’t ask for permission before blogging songs (some have policies saying they’ll take down a song if any musician complains). However, over on an NPR blog, one of the bloggers has been putting together “mixes” of music on the blog, and being quite careful to ask for permission before any song is included. As BoingBoing points out, when the blogger, Carrie Brownstein, asked the Grateful Dead’s label if she could use a Grateful Dead song, the response was a rather pompous demand that the band would require a piece done on the band on the radio show All Things Considered as well as a feature about the Grateful Dead on the NPR website. Just for using a song in a way that many would say was fair use (not to mention that it would be from a band that actively encouraged fans to tape and share its music broadly). If anything, it sounds like the record label overreaching in seeing an opportunity to get more press for a band that hardly needs any more. But, on the whole, it shows the sort of attitude that’s becoming all too pervasive these days when people need to ask “permission” to help promote a song or a band.

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Comments on “Grateful Dead Label Demands NPR Feature Story To Blog A Grateful Dead Song”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: All Things Considered is busy now

Bad joke, but as it turns out, the All Things Considered crew happened to be
overseas. They were doing a series in China and had a program blog called
“Chengdu dairy”.

Yep, Chengdu– in Sichuan.

The blog is still runing and they’re submitting audio reports for NPR, but
their focus has changed a bit…

DigitalFlack says:

NPR did a story two weeks ago

The GD archive and memorabilia of 30+ years was recently donated by the band and its archivist to UC Santa Cruz, so NPR gave them their 127,365th fifteen minutes of fame in April.

(Heard it on KQED in SF, actually they were pretty open and generous then, this sounds like some bureaucrat at the music company)


ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

Without getting into too much of a musical discussion here, the reason you never saw the appeal is because you never saw a live show. All those Deadheads didn’t show up just to hear them do covers of Marty Robbins or the like. The real attraction was what’s known as “Drums and Space” where it became more of an experimental jazz type of thing than a concert. Trust me, without Drums and Space, I’d never have started listening to them myself.

August Wesy says:


Was this Rhino Records (who control the vault), Arista Records, or Capital Records? they had 3 different record labels while they were recording albums(Grateful Dead Records no longer exists) and a 4th controls their vault of live recordings. The band members are not involved in any of those companies.

Spuds (profile) says:

I worked for an NPR station..

I worked for an NPR station as a manager. The Grateful Dead label actually puts out a CD once a week called “The Grateful Dead Hour” and you have to PURCHASE these CDs if you want to play more than a couple GD tracks in an hour of music.

One thing I CAN tell you is that the people ARE a bunch of pompous bitches and they’ll demand just about anything, and sue you if you don’t follow what they say.

I’m not saying their lawsuits had any merit– but– they will sue you.

So– our station had 100’s of these CDs and decided we didn’t want to buy any more of them, so we didn’t buy any more and started playing the old ones.

The label contacted a local lawyer and filed a lawsuit, specifying that our radio station couldn’t play any GD music without a specific license from them.

They believed that our previous fees as well as ASCAP, etc, etc didn’t cover GD music, even though they belonged to ASCAP and BMI.

Anyway… we wiped our asses with their lawsuit.

Something tells me Jerry is rolling in his grave. I won’t listen to the Dead anymore. I quit listening to Metallica, too. Won’t even listen on the radio if they happen to come on. Fuck ’em.

Dan Zee (profile) says:

Well, they could have said no

I’m not sure what the point of this story is. The GD could have said no. Is that better than asking for NPR to do a story on them? You have GD fans dying off, and the younger kids don’t know who the GD are. It sounded like they’re just trying to get a little free publicity. And what’s wrong about asking for a favor when you’re asking a favor from them?

Also, they might have been open to negotiation. Maybe they would have settled for a five-minute piece? Plus an interview with Bob Weir would have fit right into All Things Consider’s format. They interviewed Artie Lange of MadTV and Howard Stern fame! He’s not exactly a pop icon. Why not a piece on the GD’s legacy?

Just because you asked permission doesn’t mean everyone you ask is going to say yes. And you don’t have to whine about it either.

melvillain says:

My question is...

Why does the Grateful Dead need promotion from NPR? This is NPR were talking about, anybody who listens to NPR knows of the existence of the Grateful Dead. I can understand Ms. Brownstein wanting to put it on a mix, but why in the world would NPR want to promote something they already promote by their very existence. Label or band, it doesn’t matter, this is just one f-ed up situation. IP indeed!

mike says:

the band has always allowed trading of thier live music that is recorded by the fans. they have never allowed the trading of thier studio work or the live music they have published.all they ever asked from the traders is that they dont charge or make any money from the trading of thier live music. i think this is the heart of the matter. does that blog have ads that make money? was the music the blogger wanted to post a fan based recording or a recording the band recorded and published themselves?

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