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Old 07-11-2003, 06:03 PM   #1
Auburn Annie
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Did anybody catch ABC News tonight on the way The Dead is now recording their concerts and selling the CDs direct to their fans? Here's the text (EMP please note):

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Digital Dead
Grateful Dead Begins Burning, Selling Own Concert CDs

By Bill Redeker

M O R R I S O N, Colo., July 11 — For the past week, the spectacular natural amphitheater Red Rocks, carved out of the Rocky Mountains' front range near Denver, has played host to 10,000 people a night, attracted by the legendary Grateful Dead.


Actually, make that "The Dead." Since leader Jerry Garcia died in 1995, the band has renamed itself a couple of times. The group's fans are extremely loyal. "Deadheads" are known to follow the band across the country during its annual summer tour.

This year, they've added an attraction for the faithful. Lead singer and guitarist Bob Weir calls it an "experiment." Every concert is recorded and digitally transferred to compact discs that can be ordered at the concert venue and shipped within a week and a half.

It's like going to the same concert over and over again. And it could well be the future of album sales for "performance" bands like The Dead, for many reasons:

Cost: A three-CD set of a typical performance costs $22. Compare that to the usual $17 or $18 charged by music stores for a single disc.

Incentive for the performers: Most bands like The Dead receive less than $1 for each album sold. By controlling the recording and marketing of their work, they now earn up to $8 or $10 an album.

This means a band does not have to sell a million records to make a decent profit. It can sell far fewer. It also means that less "commercial" songs get recorded. Finally, it should encourage start-up bands that can't afford to record with a major label.

Back of the Bus CD Burning

A simple laptop computer with not-so-simple software is the key. Dennis Leonard, The Dead's audio mixer, who is nicknamed "Wizard," sits in a tiny room or even in the back of the band's bus, mastering the recorded tracks and storing them in digital files. He can "burn" a CD from his computer or collect the digitalized tracks and send them off to Chicago for duplication. It's that easy.

"They're much better than the free downloads from the Internet," said Leonard. "Online MP3 files are compressed and don't provide nearly the range as a CD."

Someday, he believes the recordings will be digitally downloaded from a machine at the concert site only moments after the last song has been played. Fans will actually be able to listen to the concert they just attended on their car audio system, driving home.

The faithful seem to like the idea. So far, about 25,000 CDs have been sold. That's about 2,000 for each performance during The Dead's summer tour. Do the arithmetic, and the band pockets a quarter-million dollars. Call it "supplemental income," as they have already earned most of their money from concert ticket sales. Tickets go for $52.50 a head — or Deadhead, that is.

The egalitarian breakthrough is not, however for every musical group. Some bands cannot survive outside a studio because members need audio sweetening, dubbed-over voice tracks and other tricks to sound presentable. But the technology is perfect for bands that thrive on interaction with their audiences. Jam bands such as Phish, the Allman Brothers Band and String Cheese Incident have all embraced the "road recordings."


‘Room for Both’


This does not mean that The Dead will prohibit private recordings of their concerts. For years, individuals have been allowed to set up their own microphones and tape recorders at Dead concerts and make personal recordings. In fact, the Grateful Dead actually encouraged the practice and reserved a special area for the recorders.

But the road-show CDs will easily compete with the homemade recordings because they are professionally recorded and mastered.

"There's room for both," said Cameron Sears, the CEO of The Dead. "We're not going to prevent people from doing that. We hope they appreciate the fact we're doing it and by supporting this avenue we're opening up other doors for things that could potentially unfold."

In the meantime, the band continues its summer tour while picking up pocket change. "We're turning some handsome coin here," said Weir.

"It's good for music, it's bad for a small corner of the whole music world — that being people who make money selling records — and I'm sorry for them," he said with a wink.

What a long, strange trip it's been … and continues to be for the iconic road band.

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Old 07-11-2003, 06:52 PM   #2
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Great way to keep their name out there and make new fans as well. If Gordon ever did that I'm sure all of us here would snap 'em right up! It's their music and name,so,why not huh? Later!

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Old 07-11-2003, 08:26 PM   #3
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I think it's a great idea. The way that record labels drop artists, it's about time some of the them start to get their due share. Record labels will drop an artist that was once their ace in the hole and not even think twice about it. It's all about money. But that goes both ways.

Personally, I think that many labels are circling the drain because of decreased sales from file sharing. Although we will always be able to buy CD products from labels, the future is like what the Dead are doing and downloading via the internet. Not .coms like Napster, WinMX etc., but from legitimate sources like the record labels or the artists themselves.

Will be interesting for sure to see how things change in the next decade or so.
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Old 07-12-2003, 01:22 AM   #4
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pearl jam did it recently and it worked really well.

the good thing about the dead doing it is that bob dylan is doing a joint tour with them starting today, so if he sits ibn with the dead on their set, we'll also get some dylan on the CDs
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Old 07-12-2003, 04:33 AM   #5
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I heard an interview with Janis Ian quite recently, she has done something similar, and it has increased her sales by approx. 200%. Sounds sensible to me. The Internet is here to stay. Utilise it.
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Old 07-12-2003, 10:21 AM   #6
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Annie Do you live here in Colorado? I for some reason thought you were in Canada. Bob Dylan is here in Winter Park today. I was talking to a man from Fort Collins and he was going to the music fest to see Dylan. I said I would love to see him, but then (even though Dylan is also from Minnesota) I corrected myself and told him there was only a couple songs I liked and it was more the legend I wanted to see. I told him I was a GL fan and there we went for about 30 min. down our own Gord memory lane. What fun.
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Old 07-12-2003, 01:19 PM   #7
Auburn Annie
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Nope, brink, I'm from upstate/central New York.
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Old 08-06-2003, 08:23 PM   #8
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I know that I would jump for joy if they had recorded the Lightfoot concert I went to 1 year ago today and then put it on a CD! Imagine if they did that for each and every show! (Selling the CD in the related city of course.) You & I could relive that live concert memory over and over at our hearts content. I can't believe it was a year ago at this time that other GL "fans" & myself were lined up outside Dodge Theatre waiting to get in. The mood,the music & the meeting afterwards will never leave my mind. I was so excited about that show,I requested the day off from work and went downtown 4 hours early! It was my little adventure for the day. It also happened to be the same day as my late Grandmother's birthday 8/6/09. She'd have been 93 that day and then 94 this year. I wonder if that was a "cosmic gift from beyond?" Happy Birthday Gram,I know where you are.^
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Old 08-07-2003, 03:01 PM   #9
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This is one of a lot of new technologies that will be great for consumers, and tough on the established music business model. Apple's IPod is another. The big record companies are going to start crying foul, as people have more and more say over what music they choose to purchase. Gone are the days of forking out 13 to 18 dollars for a CD with one good song on it. If that happens, folks will just swap that one good song over the net. I know that breaks a few laws, but unless you are a diehard fan of the artist, your not going to fork out that kind of money for one good song. Artists and labels will soon recognize this and will be forced to write collections of music that consumers want to pay for. I expect the quality of music in all mediums to go up. It will be more like the good old days before every music outlet was controlled by the music industry.

Just my opinions of course.
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Old 08-07-2003, 04:16 PM   #10
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Walt,I know what you mean about buying an LP because you've heard one song,only to find out you've bought a rather unspectacular item. I have a few LP's like this,for example...I have an Air Supply album called Now and Forever from 20 years ago. The big hit from it is,"Even the Nights are Better". Great song. The rest of the album,compared to their previous 3 or 4,is lackluster. The next 2 singles,"Young Love" and "2 Less Lonely People" both went to #38 on the charts. They're listenable but dull. The rest of the songs? They're almost without emotion and are interchangeable. For a band who's main thing is love songs,I couldn't believe they'd already run out of steam. So,yes it stinks when you shell out good $ for music and get "moo"sic! As far as CD's are concerned,I can choose a lot more wisely because I buy mostly older acts and know better now than I did then about said acts. Been me,later!

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Old 08-07-2003, 04:37 PM   #11
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I forgot to note in my last message that it's been two years to this day that I went to Sam Goodys and paid off on my,"Songbook" CD Box Set! It took me 3 months to pay on it. In fact it's about 2:30pm and I think that's about the time I bought it. Only 2 years of "Avid Listening" and I feel like I've always been a...okay,
I'll say it once,"fan". It's been me,later!

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