The Business Genius of the Grateful Dead

Biz school studies the power of passion, early social networking
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2010 2:10 PM CDT
The famous Grateful Dead "skull and roses" poster.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Barry Barnes saw the Grateful Dead 194 times during the band's 30-year-long run, which ended when Jerry Garcia died, in 1995. But his passion hasn't died, and Barnes, now a business school professor, uses the Dead as a case study in what he calls "strategic improvisation" and very early social networking. The Dead’s connection with fans, based on carefully nurtured direct contact, ensured that concertgoers were deeply loyal—loyal enough that at their peak, the band sold out every show, reports CBS News.

Fans, who knew that every show would be different, felt they were a part of the phenomenon, which also led to $50 million in merchandise sales above ticket sales. It “went beyond the usual sort of Beatles-mania,” says a museum curator. “If you do what you love, the money will follow,” Barnes says.

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