The Grateful Dead often get a bad rap among pop-crazed youth for their insufferable guitar noodling, but the kids might be surprised to learn of the band’s seminality with regards to a lot of things they actually like. According to author Brian Halligan, the Dead were one of the first bands to break down the barrier between artist and consumer and actually bring fans into their musical movement, simply by permitting the free recording and sharing of their shows. The ur-jam band was really onto something…
The early days of the Grateful Dead may not usually be associated with savvy marketing (though of course their later years have seen the surviving members cashing in in a multitude of ways), but as Halligan explains in this interview with Steve Chiotakis on Marketplace from American Public Media, the Dead were “the world’s first inbound marketers.”
What’s inbound marketing?
Halligan: “…when you create lots and lots of content — whether it’s blog content or e-books or videos — and each little piece of content you create becomes like a magnet for potential customers. It pulls them in by Google blogs and social media. The Grateful Dead were kind of the world’s first inbound marketers because they allowed people like to me to come to their shows and they encouraged us to record the concerts. And when we recorded the concerts, we made copies of those tapes, spread them to our friends and those copies pulled in new fans and each copy of the show was like a mini-magnet that pulled in new customers, essentially, for them to their concerts.”
So amidst all that free love and pot smoke, the Dead anticipated the Everything is Free revolution. Here’s more Halligan schooling listeners to the relevant applications for today:
“[The Grateful Dead] really broke down the barrier between themselves and the fans. The fans were almost part of the concert. And I think that’s what modern business owners should do is with the Internet, you should break down the barriers between your company and your fans or your customers and be much more interactive. Gen-X, Gen-Y’ers don’t want this high barrier between the companies and themselves. They really want a collaborative, interactive relationship and they want to be part of the creation of the product and the business.”
Hmmm…this reminds us of an interesting little project by the likes of Belle & Sebastian…
Artwork Credit: dead.net