Steal Your Face Right Off Your Head

Grateful Dead, or what’s left of it, just made a terrible move. By demanding that their live and unreleased music be taken off sites like and, they discarded their principles and turned on their fans, or “brand evangelists” as we like to call them in Adlandia.
Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing:

This is pretty disappointing. Deadheads made the Grateful Dead some pretty substantial fortunes over the years by acting as unpaid, volunteer evangelists for their commercial offerings. This is a genuine betrayal of the audience from a couple of greedy people who would line their pockets at the expense of the memory of the generous, mutually beneficial relationship between the band and its supporters.

And what timing (something musicians are supposed to be good at). We’re in the age of mainstream media meltdown. A time of citizen empowerment–particularly in the media shpere–inspired by the very ethos Grateful Dead embodied in their taper-friendly policy, which allowed for tapers to capture live shows and then distribute them to fellow freaks for no financial gain. So it’s all the stranger that an enlightened group of people would fight against this current.
To think that the band’s live music will now be contained in a store seems as far-fetched as it is wrongheaded and mean-spirited.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I noticed this yesterday – but “taken off” isn’t entirely true. You can still stream many of the shows at (akin to sitting in the parking lot rather than getting inside and spinning.)
    We have to face the fact that the Dead we knew are just a growingly distant memory. And even other totally conscious and scrupulous acts don’t have all there music out their for the picking. Try to finding free downloadable Bob Dylan.
    What I have decided is you can’t give everything away, but it is in your best interest to give everyone a free taste. Afterall, We all “gots” to get paid.

  2. Hi Steve,
    It’s not an either or proposition. It’s a both. You do both. You hand the vault over to Steve Jobs and monetize that content. All the while you allow for the free flowing nature of consumer exchange.
    Plenty of people would welcome 2000 live Dead shows available on iTunes. I would welcome it. For a variety of reasons, one chooses to buy from them. But the free trades on the interweb are not a threat.
    Barlow can explain all this better than anyone alive. Why they would not listen to him–an interweb freedom fighter in their own midst–is beyond me.