Lee Odden

Video: Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead Sometimes we learn best about doing things in new and innovative ways by understanding them in terms of something we already know. Stories provide useful context and perspective and that’s exactly what David Meerman Scott has done with his latest book that’s just been announced: “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History“.

A longtime fan of the Dead, David co-wrote the book with HubSpot co-founder and fellow deadhead, Brian Halligan to share the brilliant innovations the Dead brought to the business of marketing music and building an incredibly passionate community of brand enthusiasts.

While we were both speaking at the Vocus User’s conference in Washington D.C. last month, David took a few minutes with me to do the following video interview on his new book:

Here’s a summary of the book and the lessons we can all learn about marketing, social media principles and thinking outside the “rules” of business as usual:

“The Grateful Dead broke almost every rule in the music industry book. They encouraged their fans to record shows and trade tapes; they built a mailing list and sold concert tickets directly to fans; and they built their business model on live concerts, not album sales. By cultivating a dedicated, active community, collaborating with their audience to co-create the Deadhead lifestyle, and giving away “freemium” content, the Dead pioneered many social media and inbound marketing concepts successfully used by businesses across all industries today.”

The book can be ordered on Amazon.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar David Meerman Scott says

    Thanks Lee!!

    We've got a homebase for the book on Facebook

  2. Finally! Nice going David and Brian. Can't wait to read it.

  3. Love David Meerman Scott. Can’t stand the Grateful Dead. I suppose they knew this book would not appeal to everyone. I don’t know if I could make it through an entire book with GD references. But, I can always be persuaded I suppose 🙂

  4. This reminds me a lot of NASCAR. Those guys encourage you to bring your own beer to races, hang out with the fans, take pictures and whatever without charging a dime if you do it on your own. This is what created such an amazing brand loyalty to almost any product line that sponsors a car on the NASCAR circuit. So I'm too young to have remembered the grateful dead (25) but I can say that you are right that what they did is one of the best marketing concepts out there.

  5. I sat in on a webinar with David Scott last year and when he mentioned The Dead, a very Very VERY large smile came to my face. Aside from my personal connection with this topic (as a deadhead and PR pro), he is absolutely spot on with this. By doing what everyone else thought was bad practice in the music industry (i.e. encouraging free distribution of their music), this band made millions, encouraged decades of lifelong fans, and spawned an entire genre of jam-bands who model after The Dead. Some of those bands also make millions with this approach, and the jam-band scene drives the live music industry.

    We live in a digital world and media IS and WILL be shared. I am all about following The Dead's model and distributing great, unique content to fuel SEO. Nice job David, I'm excited for the read…

  6. well, i look this site Blogger in the Spotlight Video Interviews … I often refer to the Grateful Dead in my own marketing and branding books and … book that was released for pre-order!

  7. We are looking forward to read this book. It seems to have a lot of new ideas that we can use in the company.