You may not realize it from the music industry of today, but in the 1960s the Grateful Dead pioneered many social media and inbound marketing concepts that businesses in all industries use today on the web. How did a group of musicians from San Francisco transform marketing and become social media pioneers?
The Dead made a series of important choices to separate themselves from everyone in their industry, making difficult and unpopular decisions such as allowing fans to tape concerts and creating special tickets and access for fans.
The Dead Marketing Funnel
Chris Anderson wrote an entire book about an an emerging economy based on a “free” pricing model. The concept of the freemium model is to give away valuable information for free to attract a larger base of prospective customers with a percentage of them willing to pay for a premium product or service. This approach is at the core of inbound marketing and describes the evolving marketing funnel for many businesses today.
The Dead pioneered this approach. They allowed concert attendees to tape shows and distribute them to other fans for free, and it worked. The Dead, one of the most iconic and successful rock bands of its era, achieved elite success with only one top 10 song, which didn’t come until the 1980s.
They succeeded by building a word-of-mouth network of fans powered by free music. The Dead understood that it was about the experience that the music provided instead of strictly the music itself.