Grateful Dead Demands Downloads of Concerts Be Pulled, Then Relents

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The ascent of free downloads of Grateful Dead concert recordings on the Internet Archive has lead to a showdown between the band and its fans, following the Dead going around and around with the Internet Archive, demanding that they beat it on down the line and remove all free downloads.

At first the fans were stunned, and mournful. But not for long. There comes a time when one has to stand up for one’s rights to concert recordings, and in the days between it became clear that this was that time. The fans rose up, crying “don’t mess up a good thing!” and ultimately creating a petition with thousands of signatures supporting a merchandise boycott if the Dead didn’t relent.

The petition read, in part, “The internet archive has been a resource that is important to all of us. Between the music, and interviews in the archive we are able to experience the Grateful Dead fully.”

With such negative feedback, in the midnight hour the band relented, which had fans dancing in the street.

So what lead to the short-lived ban on concert downloads in the first place?

Believe it or not, it was about money, money that the Dead can no longer recoup with touring.

Explained Marc Schiller, who helps the Dead with their online marketing, “When the music was given away for free to trade, the band was making so much money touring that the music was not as valuable to them.” But now, explains Schiller, “Apple iTunes has made digital downloads a business.”

Of course, they didn’t realize that the download ban would cause the fans to revolt and declare their own ban, a ban on the merchandising money stream. Clearly the band had to take a step back and reassess. And reassess they did, reversing their decision yesterday.


So if you were bummed about the ban on downloading, it’s all over now. The Dead, after all, are built to last, and even with free downloads, their revenue stream will not fade away.

Recommended reading (click on picture for full details):
The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics

Recommended viewing (click on picture for full details):
The Grateful Dead Movie

Recommended listening (click on picture for full details):
The Very Best of the Grateful Dead

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