Grateful Dead “Reversal” on Fan-Recordings is a Smokescreen

Boing Boing: Grateful Dead “reversal” on fan-recordings is a smokescreen: “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” — Jerry Garcia

So the Dead are being hailed as heroes once again for reversing their greedy decision to take their music off of the Internet Archive. Not so fast though says Boing Boing:

“So why is this being characterized as the Grateful Dead changing its position? They’ve reversed on a minor point — that freespace recordings may be traded — but they’ve stuck to the main point: recordings made by fans with the blessing of the Dead and the admonition to share them far and wide are no longer to be shared without the explicit blessing of the band’s surviving rightsholders.

It’s clear why these rightsholders want this. The Grateful Dead is famous, and lots of people are interested in buying GD recordings, merchandise, and tickets to the successor band, The Dead. The Grateful Dead’s fame is the direct consequence of the goodwill they exchanged with their fans when they adopted their liberal policies for recording and sharing of shows.

Now the rightsholders want it both ways: they want to profit from the goodwill that fans retain for the band due to its generosity, but they want to revise that generosity downwards. They want to change the deal so that fans continue to do just as much evangelizing, spend just as much money on shows and shirts, but get less in return.”

I’ve purchased lots of Grateful Dead official recordings in the past. In addition to their studio albums I’ve also purchased many of their GD label live recordings as well. Somehow I doubt I’ll be spending much money on their recordings in the future.

“Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills, One man gathers what another man spills.” — Jerry Garcia

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  1. Kent says:

    I think if we want to target bands for being mercenary and greedy, there are a lot of better candidates to start with. The current plan seems like a fair compromise to me.

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    One of the beautiful things about the Dead were the soundboard recordings that flourished at every Dead show and the tape trading that went along with the band. I saw the Dead many times in college and shortly after. I’ve got tons of GD bootlegs and the spirit of the tapers was a big part of the draw for me. They weren’t just live tapes trading there were soundboard tapes too. When Jerry was around the band didn’t mind. Tapers would follow the Dead around for months on end taping them and collecting their recordings. There was a mutual respect and understanding. The band has made a lot of money. It may be their right to now try and make more money but I doubt Jerry would be into it and if you want to continue to support the band go for it. I’ll simply stop buying their stuff. That’s my right.