“When We’re Done with It, We Don’t Care What Happens to It” What Open Access Practitioners Can Learn from Deadheads
Historians and commentators have long praised the Grateful Dead for their razor-sharp business acumen, especially the band’s policy on audience taping. What started as way to stem the tide of bootlegs (while keeping a certain segment of the fan base happy) turned out to be a brilliant marketing tool, as well as a cornerstone of Deadhead culture. Our essay will re-contextualize the Dead’s taping policies from a marketing context to that of Open Access, the unrestricted access to scholarly work mandated by a growing number of colleges and universities. The essay will first trace the history, similarities, and the differences between the two concepts, noting that the Dead’s taping policy does not ultimately constitute an Open Access policy. Despite those differences, in the second part, we will discuss what librarians (and other Open Access practitioners) can learn from Deadhead culture, and what advantages can be cultivated from a cutting-edge music sharing platform that remains strikingly relevant today.