In the long run, even the dead don’t stay grateful

via John Naughton, I see that Paul Krugman has resuscitated the argument that the Dead were pioneers of the new economy by allowing taping of their concerts and making their money as much from merchandising and touring as from record/CD sales.

This has been around since the mid-Nineties, and it’s a bit depressing to see that no one has revisited the evidence since then. It’s perfectly true that the Dead were pioneers of digital distribution and allowed lots of stuff to be circulated for free. However, this is no longer the case. None of the band’s soundboards may be freely circulated on the Internet Archive. Of the surviving members, Phil Lesh puts out occasional —and occasionally wonderful—soundboards; but Bob Weir only sells his music; you can buy the live concert tapes through MunckMix. The Garcia estate no longer even sells digital downloads, though it did for a while, and the flow of MP3 downloads for sale from the Dead’s own vaults seems to have dried up. It is of course possible there is another explanation for that: even deadheads hardcore to the point of derangement (memorably defined by Mrs T as “anyone who has more versions of The Eleven than I do”) might feel that 36 multi-CD Dick’s Picks collections were enough.

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