LISTEN – “We will get by, we will survive!” –
August 6, 2020 – According to sources familiar with the band’s finances, the Dead could easily command $150 million for rights to its name, likeness and IP.
It’s proof positive that nostalgia factors greatly in the business of the Dead, not just emotionally but with a steady stream of products. “I find it super exciting,” says Mark Pinkus, president of Rhino Records, the Warner Music Group label that houses all of the Grateful Dead catalog. “The band is very unique in that it has iconography that is striking and timeless.”
Pinkus points to the label’s limited pressing “Dave’s Picks” series, curated by David Lemieux, the band’s archivist and legacy manager, as an example of how steady Dead sales are for the company. The series was launched in 2012; subscribers pay an annual fee of $115 for four live show recordings. Initially limited to 12,000 subs, that figure has since been expanded to 20,000.
Indeed, the band’s live shows are the stuff of legend, and a virtual treasure trove of high-quality recordings are available all over the web and on streaming platforms. In addition, a weekly “Shakedown Stream” has been airing on the Grateful Dead YouTube channel during COVID, offering a succession of stellar performances, as has a recently launched podcast, under the guidance of Pinkus.
As for the Dead’s repertoire, the band never was a big studio album seller, but it’s seeing licensing and music revenue reach an all-time high thanks in large part to the brand alliances it’s formed.
Rhino is also a profit participant in merchandise sold on Dead.net, the band’s official site. Last month, the 1970 album “Workingman’s Dead” marked its 50th anniversary, and with [the deluxe edition release? it] came a wide array of related products, including a special edition Leatherman and a hatchet. Why an ax? “It’s very Marin County, 1970,” says Pinkus matter-of-factly. “People were out there chopping wood!”