In between writing hits like “Sugar Magnolia” and “Franklin’s Tower”, it turns out The Grateful Dead were pretty shrewd businessmen. The Atlantic took at look at the band to find out what managers and freelancers can learn from them.
Photo by Alaskan Dude.
Music professor Fredric Lieberman and sociologist Rebecca G. Adams have studied the Grateful Dead for some time now and say the current trends that create customer and client loyalty mirror the way the Dead did business decades ago. They point out, for example, that The Dead cultivated loyal customers with reward systems long before it was popular to do so, gave away their product wisely by allowing fans to tape shows, and learned the value of referral networking long before MySpace existed.
According to Barnes, the decision [to let fans tape shows]was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.
All in all, the Grateful Dead was as much a business as it was a band. The takeaway message is that it’s possible to develop a viable business strategy while staying true to your roots and mission. The Dead found ways to keep customers happy using methods that seemed unorthodox at the time, but were still very effective. Don’t be afraid to try new things like social networking or new advertising methods to keep your clients and customers happy, too.
Have you stepped outside your comfort zone to try a new approach to getting clients for your freelancing business? Have you come up with new ways to motivate the team you manage at work? Share your thoughts in the comments.