Grateful Dead Free Downloads 30 Live Tracks

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Update (1/16): You read that right: Grateful Dead Free Downloads. We don’t know how much longer the band, long known for opening allowing fans to record their concerts, will make them available. But as of today, if you click this link you’ll get access to 30 live Dead tracks.

Even with brand new box sets from their Fare Thee Well shows out in mere days, the Grateful Dead continue to stoke the fires of their legendary tape trading culture – gifting fans 30 free downloads from the archives throughout the month of November.

Long before the rise of digital piracy, the Dead stood out for their more relaxed approach to the music biz, openly allowing fans to record their concerts and trade the tapes. Granted, tapers never profited financially from their recordings. Rather, these approved bootleggers added to the sense of Deadhead cameraderie, creating yet another subculture within a subculture, and satisfying diehard fans with carefully coordinated and catalogued recordings of each live performance. (Official Dead archivist David Lemieux was himself a dedicated taper from 1989 to 1991.)

“The band was very farsighted – it reified an informal practice that had been going on for many years,” David Gans, the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Grateful Dead Hour, explains. “In time, it proved to be one of the most efficient marketing mechanisms.”

Big-name bands are increasingly adopting this generous spirit, from Radiohead’s donation-based seventh album In Rainbows to U2’s perhaps-too-freely distributed Songs of Innocence. (We’re not sure who would complain about a free U2 album, but Bono did issue an apology last year to folks who were miffed at an unauthorized album suddenly appearing on their iTunes playlists.)

We’re now midway through the Grateful Dead’s annual free-spirited promotion, entitled 30 Days of Dead. In case you missed the first half, the band is giving away a high-quality 320 kBps MP3 download of an unreleased live track every day of the month, hand-chosen by producer Lemieux. If you guess the venue and date correctly, you’ll automatically be entered to win the band’s 50th Anniversary Collectible Playing Cards. A few of the tunes shared so far include “Sunrise” from November 2nd, 1977, and “Crazy Fingers” from July 13th, 1976. They’re even throwing in a free cover for those who may burn the music to CD (artwork above).

Check out today’s release as well as those from previous days on the Dead’s website (with identifications of the songs and trivia about them), and keep checking back each day this month for additional downloads.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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