From 1965 through 1995, the Grateful Dead were music pioneers. I’m not dead yet but I’m grateful shirt They also created an original business model. Beyond cutting edge and against the grain. Often in the opposite direction of everyone else practicing industry norms. In the Dead’s day, the conventional route for rock bands was to record an album, release a single, and promote that album with a tour. For argument sake, these groups would rehearse a 25 to 30 song playlist. Of those songs, each night’s setlist would incorporate around 20. A few extra for encores. Bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who would mix and rotate the lineup, with at least 15 songs that were staples. Night in, night out. Numbers the audience demanded, and like it or not, the band played and played them to perfection if they wanted these fans to buy more tickets and records.
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As these tours got going and units sold, they’d ease in a few nuggets from that new album. I’m not dead yet but I’m grateful shirt You know, to sell more records. A standard practice still followed by many touring musicians today. Outside the encore, the Grateful Dead chucked this playbook in the fire. Instead of a studio band promoting albums, the Dead focused on who they were: A live performance act. This philosophy enabled them to remain authentic while grounding themselves and their music in the moment. Known for their Spring, Summer, and Fall tours, the Dead grew to be a jam and road band. They also released studio albums, but the records were never used to market the tour and vice-versa.