Fifty years ago when the members of The Warlocks became known as The Grateful Dead, a movement was born and a community began to take shape. This was a community founded on some very unique beliefs and ideals that echoed the sentiments (and music) of the band (and the times). This was a band, and a group of fans, no make that advocates…champions…that bought in to the entire “package” with reckless abandon. Why?
The Dead were trendsetters, they approached their music, their marketing and their fans differently then other acts at the time. In Scott and Halligan’s book, Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead, they explore some of the “why”. Having just experienced another Dead “happening” last night, I totally get where the authors (and the band) are coming from.
As we all know as marketers, it’s about building brand loyalty / affinity and, in their case, an extremely deadicated (sorry…) community. It was about sharing content and giving people access to the music, the band (make that your brand). The Dead were huge believers in allowing fans to record shows – they even created “taper” sections. Dead fans traded and shared these tapes with each other like we traded hockey cards as kids. This was a band that believed in going DIRECT to the fans. You wanted to go to a Grateful Dead Show…send in your money (order), ticket request and a wickedly designed envelope to their ticketing office and Bob’s (Weir) your uncle and hopefully you won the “lottery”. No Ticketmaster or on-line purchasing in those days! The band, although with a LOT of chatter and commentary over the summer, did the same thing for their recent 50th Anniversary Fare Thee Well shows. Finally, this was a band that did the opposite to the norms of the times. Sure, they wanted to sell albums just like everybody else those days (and today for that matter) but the band saw shows / touring as a critical, dare I say vital, part of their musical mandate. Hello? Sounds a lot like the state of the union in 2015!
The Dead and Company show that I was at last night in Buffalo, once again just confirmed just how special these guys (miss ya Jerry) were, and are, as a band and as a BRAND. I think they might still have a lesson or two for you marketers out there and your brands, your “fans” and your community. And remember this…the music never stops.
Kevin, CEO Front Row Center Inc.