December 1, 2005
I guess it had to happen
Interesting to note that the Grateful Dead, long champions of the "give the music away free and make up for it elsewhere" philosophy, have come to a crunching commercial reality. The upshot of this is that they may decide not to give the music away for free any more - which has, understandably, pissed their fans off a lot.
These are the guys who drew huge crowds and promoted themselves by allowing (nay, encouraging) fans to tape their live performances and distribute them widely to friends, etc. This was a hugely successful strategy when tour revenues were large and distribution comparively expensive but in the digital age, when the recordings can be distributed almost limitlessly and very cheaply, and they can no longer tour following the death of one of their members, they're finding that their income has dried up.
They currently sell their tunes through iTunes, but the bootlegging practice makes this almost impossible to generate income from. Hence they seem to have been selling picks and drum heads ...
Anyway, this is proof, as I argued unsuccessfully on the ::fibreculture:: list some years ago, that, however disagreeable the record company model may be, it is not sustainable for an artist to allow unlimited free distribution of their work. The solution lies in a balance between promotion via free distribution and revenue via sales of finished product.
Sometimes I hate it when I'm right.Posted by Huge at December 1, 2005 12:14 PM