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02/28 2011

Management Secrets – From the Grateful Dead?

Is it possible to learn important management secrets from a musical group?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes, according to a recent article by Joshua Green.

In the March 2010 edition of The Atlantic, Green’s article “Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead” points out several areas in which the band was ahead of its time, business-wise:
By setting up special perks for their dedicated band of fans known as “Deadheads”, the group fostered great loyalty, and created a “superior customer experience” – Green notes that it was not until the 80’s that many US companies adopted such a customer-first mindset.
In addition, the Grateful Dead was one of the first bands to incorporate, and shrewdly retained, the rights to their songs and merchandising.  While the band took legal action against copyright violators of its corporate image, they also allowed fans to tape their shows.  Although this negated a revenue stream, it ultimately raised the demand for their music.  Many marketers will tell you, one of the great ways to increase demand for a product is to give it away.
While Jerry Garcia was frequently seen as the leader of the band, he was uncomfortable with this characterization, as each band member contributed equally to the final musical product.  As such, the Dead were masters at implementing a participatory and collaborative style of management.
So, the next time you come across one of their tunes on the radio, keep in mind the lessons that you can learn from the Grateful Dead – in addition to simply enjoying their music!

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