Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


One Man Gathers... ah, whatever
November 30, 2005 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Outrage in Deadheadland: fans are furious since the Grateful Dead pulled thousands of freely available concert recordings from Live Music Archive. Some threaten boycotts. Are the Dead really looking out for "Grateful Dead Values" or simply protecting their commercial interests? Have Deadheads been spoiled by free access to the music? Bassist Phil Lesh says he had no say in the matter, Barlow thinks it's "like finding out that your brother is a child molester," and heady bloggers are torn. Or is it all moot anyway? "The idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd... It's no longer under anyone's control. People have gigabytes of this stuff." (Previously on Mefi.)
posted by muckster (109 comments total)

 
Jerry is spinning in his grave.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:31 AM on November 30, 2005


I've got to question the legality of this. If they Dead gave permission for these recordings to be made, which they explicitly did (the had a tapers section). How can they say that a given recording can't be posted to the internet? Do they have any rights to the recording, since there was no contract presented to the tapers before taping?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:38 AM on November 30, 2005


Good point, doctor negative.

(perhaps they're merely trying to get the Deadheads to listen to something else for a change)

*ducks*
posted by jonmc at 10:44 AM on November 30, 2005


We will....get by.

/Not a fan
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:46 AM on November 30, 2005


How do they plan to convince the genie back into the bottle after all this years? Typing "Grateful Dead" in any P2P program search box has always been like typing /channels while connected to a large IRC server - a command to produce five minutes of quickly scrolling names.
posted by nkyad at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2005


They might have thought of this before they allowed thousands and thousands of people to record their shows for free and with their consent.
posted by fenriq at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2005


For those not in the know, John Barlow is a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The quote featured in this post comes from a brief conversation he had with BoingBoing. As you might imagine, this is especially dispiriting to him.

I've hundreds of hours of tape - all of it gathering dust at my parents house. Though it's been a long time since I listened to the Dead (and I'm a little embarrassed by that phase of my life), I've fond memories of discussing the finer points of various shows with friends in high school.

Part of the reason I was able to so fully embrace a band and a lifestyle that had long passed its prime by the time I came around was the easy access to "historical" recordings. Being able to listen to a tape of the show I'd just attended and a show taped decades earlier made for a sort of continuum.

This won't go away, of course. But by making an effort to reign in this culture of music trading they're alienating the fanbase that has supported the for generations.
posted by aladfar at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2005


doctor_negative's point about the legality of all this is interesting, but I have to think that, for some reason, the band does have the right to do this. Phish did the same, did it not? And did they go to court to get Archive to pull the plug, or did they just ask?

I think, even if the band has every right to do this, it's short-sighted. Lots of younger folks only got into the Dead through these widely available downloads. Why shut them out?

In the NYT story on this, the Dead rep says that online trading is anti-community. But there's such a thing as an online community, is there not?
posted by ibmcginty at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2005


Oops - didn't realize muckster had already linked to BB. Didn't mean to imply that something was being posted without crediting the original source.
posted by aladfar at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, this is absolutely insane. It just tells me that the people who made this decision have completely lost touch with the fanbase.

It's just sad. The GD collection on Archive.org was a shining example of what every band should do with their live recordings. Very discouraging to see it go.

Who knows? Maybe Phil will make a big enough stink about this and those responsible will change their minds. He's basically served as the band's conscience in recent years.
posted by afroblanca at 11:04 AM on November 30, 2005


Hasn't every Dead fan essentially hit the ultimate saturation point by now? Christ. They gotta have every single recording ever made already. Or is there some overwhelming need to get MP3 versions to play in the new Passat?
posted by tkchrist at 11:07 AM on November 30, 2005


more like trying to get the shit back in the horse.
posted by destro at 11:08 AM on November 30, 2005


the dumb part of this is that many of the downloaders of these shows have also been very good about supporting the band with purchases of cds ... that some of the live cds released wouldn't exist if the trading community hadn't given the dead the copies of shows they had ... that each and every one of those shows that were in archive.org and many others have been in circulation for years and will continue to be

gdm productions is laying off people? ... well, i'm sorry to hear that, but there are reasons ... i have several hundred hours worth of dead music and frankly guys, the urge to download more has kind of died away ... there's only so much of this i can listen to, no matter how much i like it ...

i also might point out that they've pretty much ran their run ... since jerry died, they haven't done much of anything significant ... few new songs ... no real attempt to get a stable band back together ... no attempt to put together an album that says they're something more than another oldies act touring to make a little money

maybe that's too harsh ... maybe there wasn't anything more that could be done ... but it seems to be over now
posted by pyramid termite at 11:11 AM on November 30, 2005


It is certainly alienating to the fan base. I have many Dead shows, some of which I got from the Live Music Archive, yet still have bought Dick's Picks and other Dead material. The band's support of the taper community helped build support for the band. This crass commercialism after years of open taping diminishes my desire to continue supporting them financially. Once you give a gift, you don't take it back.
posted by caddis at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2005


When I read this story a few days ago on Boing Boing, it was only the soundboard recordings that were pulled. Has this changed or does Rolling Stone's reporting just suck more than usual?

Frankly, I think GDM is doing the world a favor. I wish they could recall all of the Dead's music and make their fans shower, shave, and get a job.
posted by keswick at 11:13 AM on November 30, 2005


This was inevitable, of course. The Dead made their money from shows, and gladly accepted fan-based community promotion through tape trading. Now, however, the prospect of revenue from touring is dwindling, and that leaves the successors of the original Dead--an entity now long gone--with one money-making tool: intellectual property.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:15 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, I really wish that the snarky dead haters would leave this thread alone.
posted by afroblanca at 11:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Shut up, hippie.
posted by keswick at 11:18 AM on November 30, 2005


Barlow gets the Hyperbole Award for this week, I think. "Like finding out that your brother is a child molester," indeed. Sheez...
posted by lodurr at 11:19 AM on November 30, 2005


Frankly, I think GDM is doing the world a favor. I wish they could recall all of the Dead's music and make their fans shower, shave, and get a job.

Wow, that would have almost been classified as wit 35 years ago!

Seriously, I hope you listen to their music one of these days. I was turned off by the stereotypes as well, but it turns out that they were good. I'd link to a show from 1969 for you, but...
posted by ibmcginty at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2005


Note that the band pulled recordings made from a soundboard source, usually from a line patched from the board into a reel-to-reel deck. Many of these tapes were made by the crew for their own enjoyment or more, uh, commercial ventures. These soundboard tapes are thus different from the 'tapers section' tapes, which are generally called audience tapes and are still on the LMA.

Does the band have a right to pull recordings that were made in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of their agreement with fans? Yeah, well, probably, yes.

But I think, as others have pointed out, it is counterproductive. There is no way to get the genie back in the bottle -- there are a ton of BT-based sites where SBD tapes are freely distributed in lossless format. Can you go on these boards and pick out whatever show you wanted from the approx 30 years of touring? No. Can you get some great tapes, enough to keep you listening to new music every minute of the day? Yes.

All this has done are increase the questions and concerns the Dead fan base have with the current direction of the organisation. (I want to note that although I've been listening tapes of the band for years, I do not consider the current incarnation of the band to be interesting nor do I plan on ever attending a show or downloading a tape.)

It's simple: Bobby Weir -- the rhythm guitarist -- for years felt that he deserved as much attention as Garcia. He obviously resents the -- over-the-top -- love and adulation paid to JG. Since the reformation of 'The Dead' a couple of years ago, he has taken over the direction of the band, fired 'the family' -- i.e. the employees of Grateful Dead Productions that were the first and best DIY recording/touring/merch etc. outfit in rock -- and subcontracted everything to ClearChannel. He's on record as saying he wants to make lots of money. Pulling the soundboards is obviously part of this strategy and is the obvious precursor to CC/Weir/'The Dead' offering them through iTunes or their own online store.

I have always considered the Grateful Dead to be the ultimate -- not 'best'; 'ultimate' -- American band in their embrace of experimentation, rejection of tradition for tradition's sake, love of innovation and synthesis of all the American musical forms: blues, jazz, bluegrass, country. Their evolution from acidtest houseband, to coked-out road warriors, to born-again stadium professionals, perfectly mirrored the evolution of popular music from the late 60s to the mid 90s. Allowing fans to freely make and trade recordings was a marketing/promotion masterstroke that foreshadowed the internet by decades. The death of Garcia -- well, that fits into the rock myth, too.

And so does corporate greedhead pigfuckery, who have found a new icon in Bobby Weir.
posted by docgonzo at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


Big fan here, and I can see many sides of the issue. But I usually side with whatever Phil says. In my opinion he is the heart, soul and conscience of the band. When the release of the vault was brought up by the band shortly after Jerry's death, it nearly broke the 40+ year friendships. I hope things don't get as ugly as that this time.

Archive.org is slow. I assume folks are downloading away just in case.

This was a well done post (and I flagged it as such).
posted by terrapin at 11:23 AM on November 30, 2005


Seriously, I hope you listen to their music one of these days. I was turned off by the stereotypes as well

Really? I was turned off by the music, then annoyed by the fans who told me I just didn't 'get it'. I never will, and I'll always find minor joy in being disgusted by the Grateful Dead.
posted by item at 11:29 AM on November 30, 2005


Some of the haters in this thread should know that many of the greatest innovations in live music for other bands exist because the Dead's sound engineers improved or invented the products that make the music sound good. Especially those bands that play stadiums. Blair Jackson's [Editor of Mix magazine] book Garcia: An American Life is a good place to learn about the innovations made.
posted by terrapin at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2005


Who the fuck sees bands in stadiums? Stadiums are for sports.
posted by keswick at 11:38 AM on November 30, 2005


keswick: you aren't even trying now, are you?

item: Then go whine about it to your therapist, and let those who do get it discuss an issue that is important to them.
posted by terrapin at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2005


Furthering my long held suspicion that Metallica and the Grateful Dead are the same band, due to a mixup with a time machine and the brown acid.
posted by freebird at 11:45 AM on November 30, 2005


This thread has little to do with the music of the Grateful Dead as such, and far more to do with one of the first, greatest, and longest running experiments in the free distribution of content. It has repercussions for the music industry as a whole, and clearly overlaps with the open source software movement, file sharing and copyright issues.

If you're not able to grasp that, it's probably best not to comment. Save the hippy jokes for elsewhere.
posted by aladfar at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


Ok, who is going to B&P the entire archive.org for me? I need a miracle! ;)
posted by terrapin at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2005


interstingly, in regards to doctor negative's point and lightly referenced by docgonzo, this appears in the archive's statement:

Audience recordings are available in streaming format (m3u).

Soundboard recordings are not available.


So the GD is really only pulling stuff they themselves recorded. Of course they have every right to do this, but it is kind of a smack in the face of the fans,
posted by poppo at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2005


That dude they interviewed, David Gans of the GD Hour radio show, is a longtime friend of my folks. He's a good guy.

Kinda random to see him quoted in Salon, but I guess everyone knows everyone in the bay area.
posted by ph00dz at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2005


I'm thinking of changing my name to "bitter". Or "jaded". What do you guys think of "jaded"?
posted by grateful at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2005


Good point, terrapin. I probably should mention to her how those dancing bears fill me with bloodlust. The odd thing is they have the same effect on my wife & many people I've known in my life, so it may not be a personal problem after all. I think we'd all benefit from knowing exactly why this happens, and I'll likely never have the chance to interview & study one of the surviving offenders (i.e. band members) in person, so I suppose the next best thing would be asking the fans of the mess. Here goes: Why does that music you treat in such a cultish fashion - that annoying, cloying, meandering, and ultimately tuneless crap - make a certain section of society's blood pressure rise?

Seriously, you guys know how jonmc feels about synthpop? I get the same feeling anytime I see those damn bears or hear noodly jam music. Please don't get me wrong: if it weren't for 'the Dead', chances are that many wonderful musicians from the same era (think VU, Stooges, etc) wouldn't have been inspired to create something interesting to combat what they heard going on, and that whole brilliant movements of music started a decade or so later because folks were fucking tired of the bloated, rotting horse that the tye-died set couldn't stop themselves from mounting.

I'm only too happy that the Grateful Dead's music is now (and has been for a long, long time) such a corporate joke, such a tired punchline that few new music fans take them seriously anymore, and those that do can be easily written off and beaten into submission with their own sacks full of patchouli and crusty old tapes.

There, terrain, happy? You should've left me therapist out it. She's a nice lady, too busy sorting through my dozens of other worriments to try to figure out something that's not a singular problem.
posted by item at 12:38 PM on November 30, 2005


item, i think i love you.
posted by keswick at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2005


I'm just flagging every anti-Dead comment as "fantastic."
posted by solistrato at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2005


item & keswick, get a room. I don't know, or care, what jonmc thinks about synthpop. Nor is it relevant to this thread. Nor is your repeated shitting.

To repeat what aladfar said: This thread has little to do with the music of the Grateful Dead as such, and far more to do with one of the first, greatest, and longest running experiments in the free distribution of content. It has repercussions for the music industry as a whole, and clearly overlaps with the open source software movement, file sharing and copyright issues.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2005


Item, you appear to have issues, the kind of issues which should make your therapist rich. How does it make you feel when someone wishes you Merry Christmas?
posted by caddis at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2005


Okay then: I think all information should be free. I don't care if it's from the Grateful-our-fans-think-our-band-is-some-kind-of-messiah-and-who-the-good-goddamn-gives-a-fuck-about-copyright-laws-when-the-band-in-question-isn't-the-Dead, Negativland, or the new Staind album.

So, that one guy from the Dead? He sucks, man, and the others are so right-on and free. Argument over. Now let's all take some acid together, and I'll play you some music that'll really blow yr minds.
posted by item at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2005


What's a 'Christmas'?
posted by item at 1:02 PM on November 30, 2005


The only thing more regrettable then item's and keswick's obvious trolling is the fact that they're succeeding.

Set phasers on "ignore."
posted by afroblanca at 1:02 PM on November 30, 2005


I don't know, or care, what jonmc thinks about synthpop.

I hate it worse than hernia checks.

I actually enjoy some of the Dead's stuff, but I think that many head's take the whole thing waaay too seriously ,and anybody like that I can't resist fucking with.

(and I don't have a therapist, unless you count my bartender and MeFi)
posted by jonmc at 1:02 PM on November 30, 2005


docgonzo's psychoanalysis of Bob Weir is utter nonsense.

As someone who co-produced a box set called "So Many Roads" for the band, I can see both sides of this issue. I also don't trust Phil or Bob or Robert Hunter or John Barlow or GDP spokesmen to be the ultimate arbiters of truth, because I've seen them all make spin-laden statements for political reasons.

This move is certainly terrible PR for the hardcore fans, but on the other hand, I don't have a problem with musicians making money from their music, any more than I would have a problem with a brain surgeon making money from his surgery. (Run with that one, ironic metaphor fans.) I think that a fall-off in sales of the Dick's Picks series has come as frankly a surprise to the powers-that-be, and that they're scrambling for ways to make money so that a skeleton (ahem) crew can continue to preserve the contents of the Vault, and so that Jerry's daughters and other family members can get at least some small income from all the work these guys did over the years.

I'm disappointed that things have come to this, but there were many knotty contradictions built into the notion of selling something that you have declared free in various ways, particularly when the tape-trading community is no longer providing an eager audience for ticket sales. What can you do?
posted by digaman at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


one of the first, greatest, and longest running experiments in the free distribution of content. It has repercussions for the music industry as a whole, and clearly overlaps with the open source software movement, file sharing and copyright issues.

Well put, aladfar.
posted by digaman at 1:17 PM on November 30, 2005


Maybe Phil will make a big enough stink about this and those responsible will change their minds. He's basically served as the band's conscience in recent years.

He's positioned himself to look that way, but he has his own agenda. No one is Snow White in this story.
posted by digaman at 1:19 PM on November 30, 2005


It's brain science, digaman, not rocket surgery.
posted by lodurr at 1:21 PM on November 30, 2005


Wait... Why should people who didn't create the intellectual property benefit from it? I'm just not feeling a lot of sympathy for people whose contribution to Western music is to be born as Jerry Garcia's daughters...
But then, I think that the copyright laws of the US are pretty damn fucked...
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2005


I probably should mention to her how those dancing bears fill me with bloodlust.

The dancing bears have the virtue of not understanding a thing you people are talking about. That's why they're always smiling.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:28 PM on November 30, 2005


I actually enjoy some of the Dead's stuff

I enjoy it too, but only when it's covered by The Persuasions.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:29 PM on November 30, 2005


digaman, what of the argument that the band's music is good and important enough to draw new fans, and this is actually counterproductive? I know plenty of recent converts to the GD, and I think this move makes that less likely. I agree with you that the musicians, and their intended beneficiaries, have the right to make money from their creation, but I just don't think this is a good business move as far as winning new converts (or, as you mention, keeping old fans happy).

klangklang, that might be all that Jerry's daughters did, but it's not too hard to imagine that Jerry himself wanted them to get money from album sales, and he's not around to speak up for his wishes right now.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:32 PM on November 30, 2005


klangklang, in fact, one of Jerry's daughters is a classical musician who has played in local orchestras, but that's not the point. If you yourself ever have kids, you might understand better someday the desire to see some of your hard-won assets benefit them.
posted by digaman at 1:32 PM on November 30, 2005


I agree with you on that, ibm, though it doesn't seem to require thousands of hours of free concert recordings to win new fans for other bands.

None of this is simple.
posted by digaman at 1:34 PM on November 30, 2005


Peter, yeah, that Persuasions album is really nice.
posted by digaman at 1:34 PM on November 30, 2005


The one where they cover Frank Zappa is even better, as is Chirpin'.
posted by jonmc at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2005


To really get to the bottom of all this, I'd like to know where archive.org got the soundboards in the first place. (I'm not implying that I know -- I'm completely ignorant about their sources.)

Former Dead archivist Dick Latvala of the Dick's Picks series was a very close friend of mine, and I happen to know that hundreds of soundboard tapes that he kept copies of at home went astray immediately following his death. Arguably, some of the source material at archive.org may have been stolen, or leaked by less-than-official sources. If those things are true, I would have less of a problem with this decision.
posted by digaman at 1:41 PM on November 30, 2005


It's a pity they weren't incinerated.
posted by keswick at 1:45 PM on November 30, 2005


The luckiest band ever has begun to take their good fortune for granted.
posted by davebush at 1:48 PM on November 30, 2005


Fun to watch you jack off, keswick. You have a promising career in the webcamosphere.
posted by digaman at 1:48 PM on November 30, 2005


it doesn't seem to require thousands of hours of free concert recordings to win new fans for other bands.

Fair enough, but no other band's reputation was built on their shows quite like the Dead.

It might not be a totally unfair caricature of my argument to say, "all the band needs to do is more marketing to get people to download free shows, then buy stuff." The obvious answer is, why should the band include that middle step if revenues are flagging. The simple fact that they allowed downloading in the past doesn't translate to a moral imperative that they do it forever.

But I just worry that, in the absence of some push for new fans, this will just wall the Dead off. I'd rather see ads for Dead albums on CNN than see their music fade into oblivion. This might be a minority sentiment among their fans.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2005


I think the music can stand on its own, and will speak to new generations of fans as long as they can find it somewhere. Archive.org would have been one way for them to find it, and being able to maintain a very lean organization that preserves the music and occasionally puts out and promotes a new, well-considered official package is another. But I don't think any special effort will be required for Deadheads-of-the-future to understand what the music was about, as long as they get the chance to hear it.

If there's any other musician out there whose career ranged as broadly as Jerry Garcia's, from playing banjo in Old and in the Way to improvising with Ornette Coleman to writing ballads like "Stella Blue" to playing the completely free-form MIDI-based excursions a la "Dark Star" in Miami 1989, I have yet to hear of him, outside of a handful of people like Bob Dylan and Miles Davis. That kind of legacy tends to find its own fans.
posted by digaman at 2:01 PM on November 30, 2005


Workingmans Dead is a great album.


That is all.
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on November 30, 2005


Soundboard recordings are not available.

So the GD is really only pulling stuff they themselves recorded.


Is that accurate? I thought they opened up the board to others to record from, meaning they provided the feed but someone else's hardware and effort caused the recording.

I'm amazed at the virtol towards the Dead. I don't like their music but their existance doesn't anger me - it's not like they're Phish.
posted by phearlez at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2005


digaman (& others) are missing one of the major points here - they've pulled *downloads* of everything, leaving only "streaming" audience recordings. I don't like losing the boards, but count me among those who have too much as it is. OTOH, the audience tapes were never theirs, and I really don't care how they think those recordings should be shared. That's up to the people who taped them.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2005


All you have ears to hear, apparently, but that's fine. I would put American Beauty, Live/Dead, parts of Blues for Allah, the "Dark Star" on Dick's Picks vol. 4, and a bunch of other stuff ("The Wheel" from the first Garcia solo album) in the same exalted category, but that's me.
posted by digaman at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2005


Keswick proves John Gabriel's Internet Theory
posted by caddis at 2:22 PM on November 30, 2005


phearlez: plenty of board patches were given out over the years, but who knows how many were "official" in any way. I remember the big stink that resulted from Dan Healy's distribution of board patches from the Chapel Hill shows in '93. I do believe that episode was cited by many as one of the reasons he lost his long-time job as soundman. The clear implication was that he wasn't supposed to do that...of course those tapes promptly became excellent selling bootlegs, and those shows are among the most widely circulated among post-'92 material. They kept a pretty tight lid on shows after that, most boards from '94 & '95 have at least one cassette generation inserted to maintain the purity of the vault master.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2005


Somewhat random thoughts here:

Big fan. I already have more soundboards than I can listen to. Audience tapes don't interest me at all.

Anyway, who gives a shit about the music? I'm getting Jerry's toilet.

How come Hunter never weighs in on this stuff? It's always Barlow, who strikes me as something of a shameless self-promoter. In the ocean of hypnocacy, the shore is just another wave .

Oh and a big shoutout to pyramid termite who said without a trace of irony: since jerry died, they haven't done much of anything significant . Another penetrating stare into the obvious.
posted by fixedgear at 2:46 PM on November 30, 2005


Hunter has weighed in on GDP business issues a lot in his journal over the years, albeit in characteristically cryptic fashion.
posted by digaman at 2:55 PM on November 30, 2005


For sale: Jerry Garcia's toilets and Jacuzzi.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:56 PM on November 30, 2005


I'm a long time fan of the band (insert whatever tired joke seems appropriate), and was also greatly enamored with the GD section of archive.org. And although I've purchased many/most of their "official" releases -- including many shows I already owned in less pristine forms -- I will greatly miss the easy access and kid-in-a-candy-store quality that I associated with the GD space on archive.org. Despite what Dennis McNally said in his press release about a perceived "lack of commmunity" in cyberspace, I think the GD section of archive.org did a great job of bringing people together to discuss the music -- and as the band took great pains to point out as the scene degenerated into so much mush in the early 90's, the band was about making music first, and everything else was supposedly second, right? [snicker]

As Digaman and others have said, I have no problem with the band making money from music they performed, and as they perform less (and without Jerry) they have every right to leverage their earlier/better performances. But they could have handled this with considerably more grace and coordination, especially since (IMHO) there is significant overlap between archive.org users and their most loyal customers (and hey, I downloaded 60+GB of their music from archive.org and still purchased their recent 10 CD box set even though I already owned the shows in the box set in several forms, so I know what I'm talking about!)

Ironic as it seems, there's an OCD quality common to many Deadheads when it comes their music collections. I have friends that are incapable of maintaining a manila folder of takeout menus, and yet these same folks have walls of impeccably organized tapes. To the folks that really, really like this music, the easy access to that archive.org provided to all of it was as close to heaven as we were likely to get. Whatever model that follows may be more fair to the rightful copyright holders of this music, but unless it is at least as complete as what was available on archive.org, I doubt it will be well received. Archive.org set a high standard for how to do this right, and it's a shame the Dead couldn't see the value in having archive.org around as a distribution source, and not just as a source of streamed music.
posted by mosk at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2005


I did just read the notes on archive.org and noted that even audience tapes are no longer available for download.

That seems idiotic to me.
posted by digaman at 3:25 PM on November 30, 2005


I think that a fall-off in sales of the Dick's Picks series has come as frankly a surprise to the powers-that-be, and that they're scrambling for ways to make money so that a skeleton (ahem) crew can continue to preserve the contents of the Vault, and so that Jerry's daughters and other family members can get at least some small income from all the work these guys did over the years.

I see where you're coming from, but honestly, I have a hard time believing that anyone involved is hurting for money. Jerry's family should already be well enough off that none of them should have to work at a Dairy Queen for generations.
posted by afroblanca at 3:27 PM on November 30, 2005


i'm a fan (a young one, but a phish fan first) and i never really understood why archive.org was given the right to serve it up, almost every damn note of it too. at the same time i thought it was great.

audience recordings are one thing. i was surprised to see soundboards up there. even as recently as the early 00's, the idea that something as comprehensive as archive.org's collection was a pipe dream.

i recall shortly after jerry died there was an idea that was kicked around that the organization was going to build an amusement park. one of the central ideas was to offer any show to anyone for sale.

so to see what the archive accomplished in such a short amount of time is staggering. i'm willing to wager that dead inc could not do it as fast as the fans did.

it's not just that every recording is up there, it's that every recording's lineage, generation and quirks are accounted for.

that's a lot of work and a lot of listening by a lot of people. really, trully a labor of love.

still, some of my favorite bands have an open audience taping policy and they've declined to be on archive.org, something that i understand.

the bittorent sites do a good job of circulating it all anyway and subsets of those larger communities have everything on ftp anyway. so the cat is out of the bag. if you want a recording you just have to know where to find it.

as far as some of the people in this thread who dislike this music....so what.

as someone who's been into it for at least ten years now, i've given up trying to convert people or arguing over the validity of a particular band. if someone doesn't like it....who cares. i think any fan of the dead or phish tends to take the general dislike of these bands from non-fans way to personally and seriously.
posted by oliver_crunk at 3:32 PM on November 30, 2005


Well, you might be interested to know that lyricist Robert Hunter was unable to buy a house until "Touch of Gray" was a hit. Just one example. The GD organization always supported a huge number of friends and family members, for better and worse. No more.
posted by digaman at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2005


I was replying to afro.
posted by digaman at 3:37 PM on November 30, 2005


All you have ears to hear, apparently

Sorry, my "that is all" was just a signoff ("That's all I have to say"), not a continuation of the first sentence ("That's their only good album"—though I do think it's their best album). Apologies for not making myself clear.
posted by languagehat at 3:41 PM on November 30, 2005


According to Relix, the audience recordings will be restored to LMA.

I agree with digaman & others that this is a tricky issue full of contradictions. The Dead have every right to get paid, but once they made the shows available and declared that "after we played it, we're done with it," it becomes difficult to justify this move. Jesse Jarnow is right: "The reason the shit really hit the fan(s) this week, though, is because the Dead didn’t have anything to offer, just to reclaim."
posted by muckster at 4:19 PM on November 30, 2005


Ah, I get it languagehat. That makes me feel better, because I'm not only a big Dead fan, I'm a big languagehat fan [smile].

And yes, Jesse Jarnow is a smart dude.
posted by digaman at 4:29 PM on November 30, 2005


Good to know my unneccessary attempt at psychoanalysis was off -- he just appears to be an asshole.
posted by docgonzo at 6:41 PM on November 30, 2005


"If you yourself ever have kids, you might understand better someday the desire to see some of your hard-won assets benefit them."
Yeah, while I'm alive. After I'm dead, I doubt that I'll have many views one way or another.
I don't really believe in inherited wealth, and think that the "death tax" is fantastic and should be increased.
And while it may be great that they "support a family" of road crew etc., maybe it's time for those people to do something that benefits mankind instead of living off of the largess of former hippies.
posted by klangklangston at 7:28 PM on November 30, 2005


I know that rolls right off the tongue, klangklang, but if you knew most of the people in the GD organization, who did a tough job for 30 years and lived modestly, you wouldn't be so glib. But carry on.
posted by digaman at 8:25 PM on November 30, 2005


I think that a fall-off in sales of the Dick's Picks series has come as frankly a surprise to the powers-that-be,

it doesn't really surprise me ... i'm not one of those hard-core fanatics that have to have everything the band ever did ... there are only so many nights where the band did something exceptional ... there are many nights when they were good ... but how many of those good nights do i really need to hear? ... (and i might point out that some of the true highlights, such as veneta in 72 and miami in 89 haven't been released ... instead we get other dates such as dick's picks 1, which had its moments, but hasn't held up that well compared to some of the others)

i'm aware that much of the band's family didn't get more than a reasonably good average living from their work ... but i think it's only fair to point out that many roadies and others who have worked for other bands didn't even get that much ... they were fortunate that they were able to live as they did for so long ... i'm not sure that with the band in semi-retirement, generating no real buzz and the market for the old stuff getting saturated that there's much of anything they can do about it

and item - you are quite ignorant of your rock and roll history if you think that punk was a reaction to the grateful dead and bands like them ... it was a reaction to mainstream rock of the early and mid 70s ... the pop rock ... progressive groups like elp, yes and jethro tull ... generally what was being heard on the radio at the time ... and the dead weren't being played that much

johnny rotten wore an "i hate pink floyd" shirt for a reason, you know
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on November 30, 2005


I liked the Clash, the Dead Kennedys, Patti Smith, even the early Sex Pistols, and the Dead. What I hated was music that sucked.
posted by digaman at 9:05 PM on November 30, 2005



there's been a change in policy
... audience tapes can be downloaded, and soon soundboards will be streamed, but not available for download
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 PM on November 30, 2005


i liked the punk bands and the progressive bands ... and i was a pink floyd fan before dark side ... genre snobbery sucks
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 PM on November 30, 2005


I think the saddest part of all this is that taking the soundboards away from archive.org won't actually make more money for anybody. Most of the people who would bother to get shows off Archive are probably people like me, who already have hundreds of hours in their collection. When those shows are no longer available on Archive, they'll either (A) Get them off bittorrent/ftp/flavor-of-the-month-filesharing-service, or (B) say, "Oh well, I already have hundreds of hours, I guess I don't really need much more."

As mosk pointed out, the people who buy offical releases like Dick's Picks will continue to do so, regardless of the goings on of Archive.org. Those who don't probably never will. Depriving fans of a resource like Archive.org will not make any more money for anybody - it will just make peoples' collections less complete.
posted by afroblanca at 9:16 PM on November 30, 2005


The Velvets were formed in 1965, the Stooges in 1967, so it would be rather difficult for either group to be reacting to 70's album oriented rock. Also, the Dead were formed in 1965, so I don't think that the Velvets were reacting to them, either. The Velvets might even have been the first of these three to have a record out.
posted by rfs at 10:20 PM on November 30, 2005


Audience recordings are now back up. Streaming soundboards will be back up tomorrow.

This has been a tough week around the Archive and deadland, but this is generally good news.

-brewster
posted by brewsterkahle at 11:26 PM on November 30, 2005


Thanks, brewster! And thanks in the larger sense, too.
posted by digaman at 4:41 AM on December 1, 2005


rfs - both the velvets and the stooges were very much a product of their own local scenes ... the velvets didn't like hippies, but that had more to do with their nyc art roots ... and the old east coast vs west coast thing ... and the stooges were too integrated into the detroit hippie scene to be a reaction against it ... in fact they had much in common with the other bands in the area ... and had the same fans

if we're going to consider them "punk" we'd have to include all the other "garage punk" bands of the 60s, many of whom were hippies, many of whom turned out to be very influencial on the 70s punk scene

70s punk was a reaction to slick corporate rock in part ... and in part, at least in america, it was a continuation of the garage band ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:35 AM on December 1, 2005



johnny rotten wore an "i hate pink floyd" shirt for a reason, you know


Oh, that's right. I keep forgetting that when he wasn't wearing that shirt Lydon was wearing a tye-dyed dancing bears one. Do forgive me.

I may've overstated what the Velvets & Stooges were reacting to (the VU, after all, liked the Beatles - another group who's fans need to let go - though both bands hated hippies, so take that as you will), but if you really, honestly believe that punk wasn't as much of a reaction to the Dead and their ilk's rotting corpse as it was to 'mainstream music', then it's you that needs to restudy your music history, termite.

i liked the punk bands and the progressive bands ... and i was a pink floyd fan before dark side ...

That's cool, man. Some of my best friends are black people, too.
posted by item at 9:17 AM on December 1, 2005


if you really, honestly believe that punk wasn't as much of a reaction to the Dead and their ilk's rotting corpse as it was to 'mainstream music', then it's you that needs to restudy your music history


What are you talking about? What the Hell would you know about punk anyway? You weren't even born, or were at best a toddler, when punk burst onto the scene. Punk was not a reaction to bands like the Dead. It was a reaction to art rock and over-produced heavy metal, a reaction to the establishment in rock. The Dead were never part of the establishment, trust me. Pyramid termite has it right. The Wikipedia article on punk provides a pretty accurate summary of the punk movement.
posted by caddis at 9:40 AM on December 1, 2005


Frankly, I think GDM is doing the world a favor. I wish they could recall all of the Dead's music and make their fans shower, shave, and get a job.
posted by keswick at 11:13 AM PST on November 30 [!]


Hm. You're a dick. Congrats on being a dick. You're doing a great job so far of being a dick.

Dick.
posted by wakko at 9:43 AM on December 1, 2005


item - i'm 47 ... i don't need to study what i lived through
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 AM on December 1, 2005


48, actually ... i keep forgetting ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 AM on December 1, 2005


Hey, thanks! I'm pushing thirty, but you guys're making me feel like I'm 17.

what the Hell would you know about punk anyway? You weren't even born, or were at best a toddler, when punk burst onto the scene.

Neat! (Cue 'Losing My Edge.) You were there in New York in 1975, slumming outside CB's! And didn't I see your picture in my copy of From the Velvets to the Voidoids, standing outside the first Rocket From the Tombs show in Ohio? Or was it you singing backup on 'New Rose'? And I absolutely, posifuckinglutely know that you helped Darby by getting him some clean water for his works. It was so gross that he's even consider using gutter-water. I know, 'cause I saw it in Decline! Man, sorry if I get my facts mixed up - I kinda fried my brain out following Phish around from '88 to '98. You wouldn't understand.

Yeah, caddis, I suppose since I didn't learn everything I know about punk from a webpage then I don't know what I'm talking about. Look, I can list my favorite 'punk' bands, too: the Fall, Crass, the Swell Maps, Chrome, Throbbing Gristle, the Slits, Jacques Brel, the Bay City Rollers, on and on and on and on. Oh, wait. Those bands aren't punk, are they? I forget - better check Wikipedia.

Punk's as much of a stagnant corpse as the Grateful Dead and classic rock were in the late 70's. Maybe even more so. Wouldn't you agree? I hope so. Actually, I don't care. Ruffling the feathers of fans of dino-rock is fun, as is arguing with aging Deadheads over what's 'punk'.
posted by item at 11:29 AM on December 1, 2005


As brewsterkahle pointed out, the band (*cough*bobby*cough*) has reversed its decision, allowing AUD shows to be downloaded, with the caveat that SBDs be streaming only. (Like that would stop us from saving them).
posted by gren at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2005


Clearly you all have enormous (musical) genitalia; is there any chance you could call it a tie and go home before someone gets beaten to death?
posted by lodurr at 11:39 AM on December 1, 2005


The Grateful Dead were the first band to really allow and nurture taping, creating the whole 'Taper-Friendly' atmosphere that many a band since has followed (beyond archive.org, http://www.furthurnet.org/ is a P2P network for nothing *but* taper-friendly bands music), and for The Other Ones to try to stop it is absurd.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned, is that not all SBD shows are bootlegged. At the Filmore, they had a huge array of jacks coming from the house soundboard for the tapers to plug into. It's also not an uncommon thing for a bands sound engineer to give a patch to someone to chain with the other tapers...in fact, some have done it on purpose. I worked as LD for a jam band that had a seperate small Yamaha digital mixing board connected to the main, to which the sound guy would take the best set of mics from all the tapers and mix them, so you got a crystal clear recording *with* audience sounds (preshow music, applause etc), without the 'dude watch the mics while I get a beer' common in poor AUDs.

Allowing people to record your shows is the best way to make sure as many people as possible hear your music (yes yes, you could pay MTV/ClearChannel to play your stuff, but the bands I am talking about are generally not what you would find on mass media (with the exception of Radiohead)) while giving your loyal fans as much as they want to hear...and they will still go out and buy your studio albums. I know I do.
posted by gren at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2005


Speaking of Bobby Weir, at the Terrapin Family's 50th anniversary concert (a private show for maybe 400 people that had more intelligent lighting in the lobby than I carried on tour), he was the ONLY person there not having a good time, scowling and yelling at people backstage (and he wasn't even performing).
posted by gren at 11:58 AM on December 1, 2005


I will beat you all to death with my huge musical penis.
posted by item at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2005


Punk was not a reaction to bands like the Dead.

Deadhead, deadhead, take another toke
Deadhead, deadhead, you're a lousy joke
Friend of the devil, who you trying to kid
Friends of the devil are dead like Sid
I'll be grateful when you're dead
I'll be grateful when you're dead
I'll be grateful when you're dead
So don't stick around too long
Riding that train high on cocaine
The music is really lousy, the fans are a pain
Troubles behind, troubles ahead
The only good deadhead is one that's dead
posted by Snyder at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2005


Got you dander up, eh item? Sorry about that, but those of us who were there during the punk scene remember some things differently from what you portray. You read some books, and listened to some albums, but you still got it wrong about punk being a reaction to the Dead. That's OK, but you had to insist.

You can dislike the Dead, that's fine by me. I probably dislike some bands that you like. That doesn't make either one of us right or wrong. However, to come into a thread about the Dead to just stir-up trouble is kind of rude. Given that the slogan on your web page is: "The more one is hated the happier one is" perhaps that is to be expected though.
posted by caddis at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2005


I agree, Caddis, that the music one likes doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. I've got friends & loved ones that like stuff I'll never understand. Doesn't stop me from giving them a hard time about it, though, and I'd never expect them to get into whatever it is that I'm listening to.

The "I was there and you weren't" attitude copped by Deadheads (and, yes, punks and aging followers of any scene) is repellant, exclusionary, and tired. You were there. So what? I've been a musician for quite a while now, and I've played with some amazing bands (while in some fairly good groups). I've witnessed a lot of good music in my days, and will witness a lot more before I'm through. I'm not grudgeful of the fact that you might've seen this or that band play back in the day, as I've lived my own life and damn well enjoyed it.

As for my 'webpage slogan', it's a Céline quote - as are all of the quotes on my worthless & paltry myspace page. Put 'em together and it's supposed to amount to a little joke, but you can take it for face value if you'd like. The 16 year old goth girls from the Midwest that're constantly contacting me certainly do.
posted by item at 2:21 PM on December 1, 2005


It's always fascinating how you can't discuss the Dead (let alone Phish) without a bunch of people here expending considerable energy to tell the heads their taste sucks. What's the point? We just assume you don't get it, and that's that. The generalizations help nobody.

Cory Doctorow on the reversal:
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.

There's a ripoff here, and it's not coming from the fans.
posted by muckster at 7:37 AM on December 2, 2005


The official GDead site just relaunched.
posted by muckster at 10:42 AM on December 2, 2005


hooooray
posted by item at 12:22 AM on December 4, 2005


You think that's worth celebrating, item? I simply thought it was interesting because they might be unveiling some sort of commercial alternative to LMA. But you're still not done snarkin', huh?
posted by muckster at 10:42 AM on December 4, 2005


Bob Weir to upset fans: "See Ya!"

Something is over, and that thing is the Grateful Dead.
posted by muckster at 9:05 PM on December 4, 2005


Not done yet, no. You'll be the first to know. I swear on the corpse of a decade-old dead fat man.
posted by item at 11:44 PM on December 4, 2005


« Older Carl Icahn's...  |  Geek! Entertainment Television... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments