Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Attention tapers, your free ride is over

New York Times: Deadheads Outraged Over Web Crackdown
The Grateful Dead, the business, is testing the loyalty of longtime fans of the Grateful Dead, the pioneering jam band, by cracking down on an independently run Web site that made thousands of recordings of its live concerts available for free downloading.

The band recently asked the operators of the popular Live Music Archive ( to make the concert recordings - a staple of Grateful Dead fandom - available only for listening online, the band's spokesman, Dennis McNally, said yesterday. In the meantime, the files that previously had been freely downloaded were taken down from the site last week.

For years the Dead would let tapers hook their recording equipment directly to the soundboard.
Dissent has been building rapidly, however, as the band's fans - known as Deadheads - have discovered the recordings are, at least for the time being, not available. Already, fans have started an online petition, at, threatening to boycott the band's recordings and merchandise if the decision is not reversed. In particular, fans have expressed outrage that the shift covers not only the semiofficial "soundboard" recordings made by technicians at the band's performances, but also recordings made by audience members.

To the fans, the move signals a profound philosophical shift for a band that had been famous for encouraging fans to record and trade live-concert tapes. The band even cordoned off a special area at its shows, usually near the sound board, for "tapers" - a practice now followed by many younger jam bands.

Further down:
"One-to-one community building, tape trading, is something we've always been about," Mr. McNally said. "The idea of a massive one-stop Web site that does not build community is not what we had in mind. Our conclusion has been that it doesn't represent Grateful Dead values."

I don't know what to say other than: Dude, this sucks.

Update: Here is a direct link that doesn't require registration.


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