Ramble On Ron

Diamonds, Music and other Facets of Life

The Grateful Dead Created Social Networking

Posted on | March 24, 2010 | 8 Comments

Now doesn’t this look like FACEBOOK BEFORE THERE WAS FACEBOOK?

Way before the internet, facebook, twitter, blogs, and the idea of “sharing content” across your network , The Grateful Dead were sharing their music with fans across the world through tapes, not computers. They were one of the first bands to allow and actually encourage taping of their live shows. How often did you go to a concert and see “No Cameras” on the ticket? Or even asked to stop recording or taping? Never at a Dead Show, where there was always a “Tapers Section” with tapers even receiving special tickets and passes to do their thing. I recently read an article titled “Management Secrets of The Grateful Dead” which discussed,

the Dead were visionary geniuses in the way they created “customer value,” promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning…Much of the talk about “Internet business models” presupposes that they are blindingly new and different. But the connection between the Internet and the Dead’s business model was made 15 years ago by the band’s lyricist, John Perry Barlow, who became an Internet guru. Writing in Wired in 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back thenthe important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.” The Dead thrived for decades, in good times and bad. In a recession, Barnes says, strategic improvisation is more important then ever. “If you’re going to survive this economic downturn, you better be able to turn on a dime,” he says. “The Dead were exemplars.”

John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Dead has a quote that really nails it and I’ll say it again, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.”

Now you can take a look on YouTube and see pretty much any band’s live show, and of course live concerts are taped on a regular basis. So next time you’re “Sharing With Your Network” you can thank the Grateful Dead for pioneering this idea!