December 1st, 2005
A couple weeks ago, the head of the Grateful Dead enterprise asked the folks over at archive.org to remove the concert recordings of the band. Unsurprisingly, this caused a great uproar amongst Deadheads who have given a whole lot of their bread to the band over the years. The New York Times reports that outcry is prompting a change of heart.
In the face of anger among its fans and divisions within the band itself, the Grateful Dead on Wednesday said it was reconsidering its decision to disallow downloads of the band’s concert recordings from a large Internet archive.
With more than 4,200 signatures on an online petition calling for a boycott of Grateful Dead products – from tie-dyed T-shirts to kitsch emblazoned with the band’s dancing bear and skeleton icons – the band’s spokesman said the members were still working out an official position on the controversy.
The Dead allowed fans to tape their shows and gave its collective blessing to the trading of these tapes. The issue here appears to be shows recording from the mixing board and not audience recordings. There’s money to be had from those soundboard recordings!
Steve Bernstein, the publisher of Relix magazine, which began in the 1970’s as an outlet for Deadhead tape trading, said the split reflected the band’s current position. Although the surviving members still sometimes play together as the Dead, he said, their most reliable income comes from new releases of old concert recordings. So their avid file-sharing fans are now also their competitors.
To me, the difference between downloading one of their shows and finding somone to mail you a copy on CD is basically nil. Despite this, getting your hands on any Grateful Dead show is a piece of cake. And there’s always P2P sources as well if you’ve just gotta get your Dead fix via the Net.