by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
blogs, grateful dead, music, permission, promotion


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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2008 @ 8:26pm

    So that's what caused the China earthquake, it was Jerry Garcia rolling in his grave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, May 14th, 2008 @ 8:26pm

    They should refuse to do the story on them now, if they haven't done it already. Just to shove it in their faces.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    So much for the band's belief that people should be able to tape their shows and trade the tapes eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    sticky_bit, May 14th, 2008 @ 8:40pm

    Pompous Hippie Ass Holes

    The GD have always been pompous hippie assholes, why should 2008 be any different?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    DigitalFlack, May 14th, 2008 @ 9:03pm

    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)


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    SteveD, May 15th, 2008 @ 2:20am


    As much as Mike is right, I'm not sure that people being pompus or short-sighted in the business world is that unusual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Lucretious, May 15th, 2008 @ 2:26am

    Never saw the appeal of the Grateful dead. To me its sounds like easy listening country pop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2008 @ 2:47am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    August Wesy, May 15th, 2008 @ 3:25am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    moe, May 15th, 2008 @ 3:39am

    The Dead have always encouraged fans to tape live shows and trade them. They've never advocated copying and trading released albums. Whether or not this is fair use, I'm not sure cuz I didn't look at the details. But, the bands stance on taping and trading hasn't changed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    bdk, May 15th, 2008 @ 4:54am

    to be clear, it is the LABEL, not the band

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    ehrichweiss, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:02am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    True Deadhead, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:45am

    NPR sould do it !

    ~` I like the idea of the Dead Label ! NPR put up the song . As opposed to a legal-mumbo-jumbo response , the Dead said , let's chill on this option. A DEAD piece on NPR ,, would only boost their ratings. They could make it Dead Plege Week ! .. Dead Heads would give $$.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Spuds, May 15th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Dan Zee (profile), May 15th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, May 15th, 2008 @ 8:43am

    FWIW a Grateful Dead story would fit in the 1968 series that NPR has been running on All things Considered. Too bad they can't do it now with out looking like they folded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    nipseyrussell, May 15th, 2008 @ 9:27am

    "what's wrong about asking for a favor when you're asking a favor from them"
    well, you mean except that she wasnt asking them for a favor, she was asking them for permission to promote their ungrateful asses. now they neither have their song in a polular blog mix nor do they have the ATC story

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    melvillain, May 15th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    mike, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    Re: ??

    dont forget warner bros.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    mike, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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