Thursday, November 24, 2005

No More Boards?

Recently, I've linked quite a few Grateful Dead shows via the live music archive at It appears, however, that the Grateful Dead has now officially asked the archive to remove all soundboard-sourced recordings from its public servers. This has been a long time coming and I can't say I'm surprised it has finally occured. It is not a reason to be sad, though. What it means is that implementation of the Dead's long-term plan to offer the entirety of its soundboard vault for download is imminent. Sure, we're going to have to pay for the music, but the music will be pristine, sourced from the original masters without the annoying cassette generation that Latvala introduced into virtually every board he seeded from the Vault.

In addition to the soundboard restriction, it also appears that the archive is offering the Dead's live music only in streaming format, i.e., no more flacs and shns for compressionless download. To obtain copies of the show, one must either beat the archive's system, which is possible (though may not be for long) or buy it from the band once it becomes available. To that end, future installments of From the Attics will feature audience-sourced recordings in streaming format. Sadly, the audience collection is not nearly so complete as was the combined audience/board collection. Although that will probably change over the coming year, there is still much to discuss in the record that lingers.

More: Others blogging this loss: E-Scribe, Here Comes the Flood, Dan Bruno, Under Eternity Blue, and BornAgainDeadHead who writes:
If in fact The Dead are pulling these SBD recordings for their own commercial gain (i.e. to boost DP and Download Series sales), then shame on them. That would be very much against the spirit of they have always been about. Considering the popularity of The Archive, I think The Dead need to explain themselves.
Shame on them for seeking to earn money from their effort? What? I strongly disagree with this viewpoint. It's their music, after all. They don't owe this to anyone. Indeed, the Dead's trading policy has always been strictly limited to audience recordings, which they still permit on the archive. That policy just has not, until now, been enforced with regard to soundboards in circulation. With the ability to retain control of their music and make it widely available themselves -- at a profit -- it's no wonder that the band and GDP have finally decided to take a small step toward enforcing the well-known policy. How can anyone begrudge the band the fruit of its labor? Gifts are not entitlements.