Call Them Hippies, But the Grateful Dead were Tech Pioneers

“What sets the band’s “Fare Thee Well” gigs apart isn’t that these options are available, but that they exist in large part because of the Grateful Dead itself: The group and its associates pioneered rock concert broadcasts, making it a regular practice starting with a show at the Carousel Ballroom in 1968.

The Dead, long stereotyped as hippies stuck in the Summer of Love, surely seemed anachronistic by the time it disbanded in 1995 after the death of guitarist and songwriter Jerry Garcia. But the Grateful Dead remains one of the most innovative and tech-savvy bands in pop history. Long before it became necessary (or cool) to do so, the band embraced a DIY ethos in everything from manufacturing its own gear to publishing its own music to fostering a decentralized music distribution system. The Dead’s obsession with technology was almost inseparable from the band’s psychedelic ambition and artistic independence.”

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More genuinely progressive than most prog rock, the Grateful Dead and its legion of fans embraced a spirit of innovation that could be called entrepreneurial if the pursuit of profit didn’t so often seem secondary. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the band’s constant experimentation with sound systems and musical equipment. The Dead and its extended family essentially created the sound of modern rock-and-roll concerts, rejecting the small amplifiers and tinny PA systems of the 60s—think of the Beatles at Candlestick Park—in favor of ground-shaking stereo and quadraphonic sound.

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Only a few years ago, a crew of jam fans created GroupMe, a group texting app ideal for mass communications at shows and festivals, eventually selling it to Skype for millions. Probably, there will be Deadheads using it to find one another in Chicago and Santa Clara, if they haven’t already adapted to some newer tech. Heads continue to play with new configurations, lately including the Bluetooth-enabled Zoku. Billing itself as “the Secret Society App” to anonymously find “tribes off-the-grid in real life,”  Zoku works even when the Deadheads inevitably overload the local cell network, as they did during the shows in California. Others are in various stages of development. The secondary ticket market for the Dead shows has been the hugest of the summer, according to StubHub, but the fans also have the Deadhead-friendly face-value ticket site/app CashOrTrade at their disposal to level the playing field a bit.

Via Wired

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The Quietus | How The Music Industry Is Killing Music And Blaming The Fans

But the longer the industry continues to cling to old-fashioned values, the more people gravitate to illegal sources that are reliable, uncomplicated and modern. It’s an extraordinary situation: in a roundabout fashion, the wider industry is inadvertently preventing fans from legally accessing music in the manner they’d like to, and which technology has facilitated, while blaming them for stealing because they’re not so wild about the systems that have so far been approved.

Whether the industry likes it or not, music is now like water: it streams into homes, it pours forth in cafes, it trickles past in the street as it leaks from shops and restaurants. Unlike water, music isn’t a basic human right, but the public is now accustomed to its almost universal presence and accessibility. Yet the public is asked to pay for every track consumed, while the use of water tends to be charged at a fixed rate rather than drop by drop: exactly how much is consumed is less important than the fact that customers contribute to its provision. Telling people that profit margins are at stake doesn’t speak to the average music fan, but explaining how the quality of the music they enjoy is going to deteriorate, just as water would become muddy and undrinkable if no one invested in it, might encourage them to participate in the funding of its future. So since downloading music is now as easy as turning on a tap, charging for it in a similar fashion seems like a realistic, wide-reaching solution.

Interesting essay about all the extra labor musicians are expected to do and much much more.

Paulo Coelho on Sharing vs. Repression

When I was active on Myspace (I am not anymore), ???Fly me to the moon??? (Frank Sinatra) was deleted from my profile.
So who deleted the song? The answer is simple: greed and ignorance.
Greed that does not understand that this world has changed. Ignorance that thinks that, if the music is available for free, people are not going to buy the CD.

A] some will say :
you are rich enough to afford having your texts here for free.
It is true that I am rich (as were Frank Sinatra, and his heirs), but this is not the point. The point is that we want to first and foremost SHARE something. If you go to most of the pages, what will you see? Fantastic pictures, great blogs, amazing photos. For free. My texts are for free here. And you can reproduce them anywhere provided that you name the author.

B] The industry will say:
artists cannot survive without being paid.
But the industry is thinking on the opposite direction of our reality today. I follow Hilal on Twitter (even if she tweets once a year???). Hilal is from Turkey, but lives in Russia (and she is the main character in ALEPH). She first read a pirate edition of ???The Alchemist???. Hilal download the text, read it, decided to buy the book. Up to today, I have over 12.000.000 hard copies sold in Russia, and counting.

C] I also decided to create ???The Pirate Coelho???, an non-official fan page that allows people to download the full texts in different languages. I am selling more books now than ever. (Where is it? Well, not difficult to find???)

D] How did all these social communities start?
At first it was just wanting to chat with another person. But chatting isn???t enough ??? we have to share the music, the book or the film that we love. When there was no law against it, this information was exchanged freely. Finally, when the entertainment industry caught on, the repression began.

Study finds file sharing has no effect on sales

The economist Jordi McKenzie of the University of Sydney published the first study on the impact of music file sharing on music sales (physical and digital) in Australia. His article in the Australian Economic Papers entitled “Illegal Music Downloading and Its Impact on Legitimate Sales: Australian Empirical Evidence” is based on a working paper from August 2009 and was published in December 2009. With a similar methodological approach to Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2007) he came to the conclusion that  the evidence suggests no discernible impact of downloading activity on legitimate sales. More details on his approach and his findings are given here:

http://musicbusinessresearch.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/how-bad-is-music-file-s…

Research Report On ‘Piracy’ In Emerging Economies | Techdirt

The factor common to successful low-cost models, our work suggests, is neither strongenforcement against pirates nor the creative use of digital distribution, but rather the presenceof firms that actively compete on price and services for local customers. Such competition isendemic in some media sectors in the United States and Europe, where digital distributionis reshaping media access around lower price points. It is widespread in India, where largedomestic film and music industries dominate the national market, set prices to attract massaudiences, and in some cases compete directly with pirate distribution. And it is a small butpersistent factor in the business software sector, where open-source software alternatives (andincreasingly, Google and other free online services) limit the market power of commercialvendors.

From the SSRC report just released.

New study examines the impact of illegal filesharing

???File-sharing may increase awareness of smaller, more obscure artists and their music by making the music available from more sources and at a much lower cost (or for free in the case of illegal file-sharing),??? they write. ???While file-sharing may offset some album sales for small artists[,] this may be mitigated in part by increased sales from the larger potential fan base that may result from increased awareness of those artists.??? The research was based on analysis of data from Pollstar, SoundScan and MusicBrainz.