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Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by Bill Halligan, Brian Halligan, David Meerman Scott

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Chapter 15. Upgrade to Premium

In an era when nearly every other band had "no cameras or recording devices" printed on tickets, the Grateful Dead said "Why not?" and created a huge network of people who traded tapes in a sort of filesharing of the pre-Internet days. With the rise of the Web, recordings, photos, and videos are now saved and traded via electronic downloads and social networking sites like Flickr and YouTube and as the technologies of sharing improved, the band is still happy to have Deadheads trade media and make copies for friends.

This open attitude didn't keep the band from making money on its own recordings, though. On top of encouraging fans to record its concerts and give away the music for free, the Grateful Dead also sells high-quality recordings of the best of their past concerts as well as studio recordings on their official web site (www.dead.net). Stop and think about this strategy for a moment—the band lets anyone record the show and trade the recordings with other fans. Yet, the band also sells high-quality recordings of those same shows. With around 100 select live shows available, spanning three decades of performances, fans are assured they will get a remastered recording without the excessive crowd noise common to the recordings made from the seats.

The millions of freely recorded live concert recordings in circulation on cassette tapes at peoples' homes, on college campuses, in cars, and for download on web sites serve to introduce people ...

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