Krugman on the Grateful Dead as a Business Model

Back in June, Paul Krugman wrote a nice op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled Bits, Bands, and Books which looks at the changes in the information and media business (e.g., publishing, music) and compares them to what I call the Grateful Dead business model.

Having been to, shall we say “more than one,” Grateful Dead concert, I’ve always believed the Dead were the role model for Web 2.0. Consider the business model:

  • Give away the (digital) product. Encourage live taping (bootlegging) and tape sharing. I’ve been at shows where they stopped and waited until someone moved their microphones so they could get a better recording.
  • Make money by selling concert tickets. To my knowledge they made more money touring than any band in history.
  • Make money by selling paraphernalia (in the sense of t-shirts and such)
  • Build a strong community. Need I say more?

So, all the while the music industry was freaking out over the copy-ability of digital media, I kept asking myself — why doesn’t anyone study the Dead? (And, yes, part of the answer is that all those concerts were hard work compared to replicating albums or CDs.)

As a business-oriented Dead fan, I’d always thought this. I was just happy to find someone, er, respectable, who thought the same thing. You can read Krugman’s piece, here.

One response to “Krugman on the Grateful Dead as a Business Model

  1. the ‘er, respectable’ was needed. And, if you want to join one of these companies, ignore the open keyboardist position :)

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