Grateful Dead Bans Sharing, Commits Musical Suicide

A Tuesday Tunes post: How astonishing is this:  A band that built its entire reputation and fan base on freely recorded and shared live shows has now pulled the plug:

"Grateful Dead fans, perhaps rock’s most dedicated bunch, are taking
a stand against the band they love. Until recently, Deadheads could
download countless live recordings of the band for free from
third-party sites, including the popular Live Music Archive
(, which once hosted nearly 3,000 Grateful Dead shows.
All of the downloads were pulled last week at the request of
Grateful Dead Merchandising (GDM), the group that handles official
products for the band and is overseen by its surviving members.

Deadheads have answered in protest. In an online petition, fans
have pledged to boycott GDM — including CDs and concert tickets –
until the decision is reversed. (The band itself broke up in the
wake of leader Jerry Garcia’s 1995 death, but in recent years
guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Mickey Hart and
Bill Kreutzmann have toured simply as "the Dead.")

GDM recently began selling live music downloads through its
online store. The sudden lockdown could be a simple non-compete
strike, or it could foreshadow a long-rumored deal with iTunes that
will make the entire Grateful Dead live vault available for

Fans were incensed that the policy change applies not only to
official soundboards but audience recordings as well. Throughout
their four-decade career, the Grateful Dead actively encouraged
fans to trade live recordings and even designated a special
"taper’s section" at the concerts. In return, Deadheads largely
respected the band’s wishes that the concert recordings weren’t
sold for profit.

An official statement from the Grateful Dead camp is expected in
the next few days. In the meantime, longtime band publicist and
spokesperson, Dennis McNally, told Rolling Stone that he
thinks "David Gans’ comments were dead — you’ll pardon the
expression — on."

Perhaps now that 1) Jerry is Dead; b) the free swapping of live recordings have ended; iii) most of the drugs have worn off — we can all now admit that, excepting a few good songs, the Grateful Dead pretty much sucked . . .


UPDATE:  November 30, 2005  8:46am

The NYT reports:

Dissent has been building rapidly, however, as the band’s fans – known as
Deadheads – have discovered the recordings are, at least for the time being, not
available. Already, fans have started an online petition, at, threatening to boycott
the band’s recordings and merchandise if the decision is not reversed. In
particular, fans have expressed outrage that the shift covers not only the
semiofficial "soundboard" recordings made by technicians at the band’s
performances, but also recordings made by audience members.

Talk about your boneheaded marketing moves . . .

UPDATE December 1, 2005, 6:54am

The NYT observes that

Downloads of the Dead are Not Dead Yet


Deadheads Boycott Dead
Fans object to band’s live recordings being pulled from Web


Rolling Stone, Nov 29, 2005

Deadheads Outraged Over Web Crackdown
NYT, November 30, 2005

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