It's All Rhino
Mickey had something powerful to say at the end of this article. "When we don't have to do business together, maybe we can become friends again. Maybe we can even play together again." AMEN!!!
From the New York Times:
A Resurrection, of Sorts, for the Grateful Dead
By ALAN LIGHT
The Grateful Dead, one of rock 'n' roll's longest-lasting institutions, has announced a licensing agreement with Rhino Entertainment to manage exclusively all of the band's intellectual property.
Rhino, a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group that is best known as a premier reissue label, will oversee everything from the band's vast archive of live recordings and its Web site to its merchandise and use of its likeness. Grateful Dead Productions will retain creative control, and the deal does not include the band's music publishing.
"In the last couple of years, it became apparent that the business was just too much trouble," said Bob Weir, a guitarist and vocalist for the band. "The Grateful Dead of yore was built around being a touring band, and when we stopped touring, the structure wasn't there."
The deal also reflects a shift in the music industry as labels look beyond declining CD sales for new sources of revenue. The Rhino-Dead arrangement is similar to a multiple-rights venture that the band Korn signed last year with EMI Music. The deal makes EMI a partner in the band's overall business, including its publishing, touring, merchandising and multimedia activities.
"The music industry has to change," said Jimmy Edwards, a vice president at Rhino. "We can't just put CD's out to retail. We need to be more involved with protecting the legacy of the artists."
What's more unusual in this deal is that the Grateful Dead officially disbanded after the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995. The surviving members toured under the name the Other Ones in 2002, and then as the Dead in 2003 and 2004. Mostly, though, the band has lived on through various official releases of their concerts.
Rhino has overseen the band's catalog in recent years, including two box sets that collected expanded versions of all of its studio albums. The label approached the band with the idea for the licensing deal.
"The Dead all started individual endeavors," said Mr. Edwards of Rhino, "and they needed a partner to provide infrastructure."
Rhino seemed the right partner for the band. The drummer, Mickey Hart, noted that the Grateful Dead started its recording career with Warner Brothers in 1966, and remained on the label through the mid-1970's. "It's kind of funny," he said. "We tortured them so much in the early days, so maybe now we're making up for it."
Last year, the Grateful Dead came under fire from its passionate fan base when the band took down the free recordings of its concerts posted at archive.org and announced plans to charge for downloading the music. Deadheads petitioned in protest, and the files were made available again.
"That was a perfect example of why we got a bellyful of being a record label," said Mr. Weir. "It's always been too expensive, too labor-intensive, to digitize our vaults, and maybe that's possible now."
Mr. Hart said that his hope was that the arrangement would free the band to make music together. "To us, the Grateful Dead was always about the music, not just going to board meetings. The business got so big, and that's not what we signed up for.
"When we don't have to do business together, maybe we can become friends again. Maybe we can even play together again."