Generosity: Are You the Grateful Dead or Metallica?

Generosity Are You the Grateful Dead or Metallica - picture of old typewriter with Thank You typed out three times

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The following is a guest post from Jim Driscoll who is the founder and author of  Jim has always had a passion for investing, saving, and all things finance related, so in 2012 he took to the world of blogging as a way to express his views and encourage others to take a broader look at the investing world.

Standing out in the blogosphere is like a worm trying to stand out in worm farm.  With a typhoon of information being offered in a tsunami of information outlets, how does a small blogger have the ability to attract more eyeballs to the worm farm? Having the ability to offer unique, captivating, and entertaining content is well, just keeping up with about a million other news outlets. There is one trait, however, which separates the great bloggers from the average ones, and to be honest, its the same trait which separates the exceptional pencil salesman from the average one.  This trait is known as GENEROSITY!

Generosity? In a take or be-taken-from world, where does this principal get you? How does being generous help bolster your web sites analytics? Not to sound cliche, but its like anything else in life, the more you give the more you get in return. There is a direct correlation between happiness and generosity, this is common knowledge. In fact, the happiest people I know are those who consistently give of their time, talent and treasure. So, where do happiness, generosity, and blogging converge at the crossroads of web traffic? Well, In the blog world we find ourselves donating our talent, and without a doubt our time, as all of us who run our own sites know this is far from a passive hobby. Generosity helps us get noticed.  By giving our wares away, and expecting nothing in return, we are living with the principle of generosity. A Starbucks gift certificate in a raffle, an ebook, a guest post on another website or just plain ol’ interesting content, all for nothing in return. These are all considered legal tender in the world of blogs, an olive branch of sorts, and by offering it free of charge you will get people to want to learn more about you. Funny things happen when generosity is our game.  And when we find a way to give our hard work away, it’s as if Karma pays us back in spades.

Are you The Grateful Dead or Metallica?

Does anyone remember the cult following of the Grateful Dead? Jerry Garcia, arguably the Dead’s patriarch, has long since passed away, but his inspiration lives on among the multitude of current Dead-like bands attracting VW busses from all 4 corners of this great nation. Very few bands have ever had an following able to rival the Grateful Dead. Even Webster’s Dictionary took note, by defining their cult-following in their dictionaries, as Dead-heads. So, how did this come to be?  What was it that the Grateful Dead do so differently? They stood out, as we all should, by being generous.

If you don’t recall, the Grateful Dead encouraged the Dead-heads to record bootleg copies of their concerts.  Heck, they would even help you record copies. After you pirated your copy, Dead-heads would hope you paid the band back by spreading the copies around by any means possible. You see, the Dead made the conscious decision that they were going to make their living by touring, not by selling albums. So, in order to eat and perhaps more important ‘smoke’, they knew they needed their art to travel. In order to be successful at this, they needed a ‘tribe’ built simply on the generosity principal. So, by their generosity, word traveled and traveled virally, and in a pre-internet era this was something to behold.

Metallica, the Yang to the Dead’s Ying

Metallica, in case you had forgotten, had a different philosophy which the Grateful Dead surely would disagree with. They decided they would fight tooth and nail to protect their songs from being swapped, even to the point of suing the Napster’s of the world, several universities, and even a thousands of fans. You’ve got to think this had a negative affect on their public persona. Metallica may be the most giving people on the face of the earth, but they appeared incredibly greedy, as if choosing to profit from every song sale were more important than their following. This had to hurt their image. So, what if they had just taken the Grateful Dead’s approach and just let it be? Not sure, but since I personally dig the band’s music, I feel the need to point out that this happened nearly 15 years ago, prior to the advent of iTunes which has forever altered the music industry in the way of online sales. Maybe Metallica would have taken a more generous approach in modern times.  But then again, maybe not.

I know that being generous with content, worked well for the Grateful Dead so I have made a point of giving away my quality content with the hopes that something good comes from it.  If not, I’m ok with that too. I think it’s better to stand out in the ‘worm farm’ by giving away your best material and creating a reason for others to come back and do business with you. Invest in making the live of people in your tribe better, you will be forever rewarded.

Happy New year Y’all!

Are you the Grateful Dead or Metallica?

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  1. Love this. This post is so not what I thought it was going to be about when I read the title! But you have an awesome point that in the world of blogging, as in life, you get what you give. And I did not know this about the Grateful Dead, so thanks for sharing!

  2. Interesting – I honestly don’t listen to either of these bands, but some of my buddies do. I had no idea that this occurred.

  3. Yep, they we more interested in touring and their following than they were in selling records. Course, they were not against selling records!

  4. Good one Jim! This is so not what I was expecting after reading the title. As a lifelong Metallica fan, I just shuddered when they were so against the sharing of their music. I’m sure they were well off enough to be able to be a little more giving. That said, you’re right on about getting and giving. I find the more you give (whether in blogging or life) the more you get. Even if that doesn’t always happen at least you’ve helped someone.

  5. I certainly believe in protecting intellectual property and valuing the efforts of artists, but I lean more towards giving generously. My philosophy is that if you give enough then more people will know about you and more people will buy your products or services, assuming they’re quality for the right price. So if 10% of a million people buy it’s better than 100% of 50,000. But there are certainly times to protect yourself.

    1. Well said Nick, couldn’t agree with you more!

  6. Thanks John, appreciate the kind words. I still have to say I like Metallica, even if they are a bit stingy!

  7. Jim, you have one of the more unique voices out there, and I think the comparison to the Dead is apt. Great post. I’m going to go pop in American Beauty and fight the urge to get high on a school night.

    1. Rock on Done By! Don’t fight the urge too much!

  8. This is a great post and exactly what the world of blogging feels like to me. I hope to be a “Dead-head” as far as blogging is concerned, but musically I am more Metallica. The video for Enter Sandman blew my mind when it was on MTV.

    1. I have to agree with you Shannon, I too am more of a ‘Dead Head’ when it comes to blogging, but musically I am more of a Eagles or Fleetwood Mac fan. Yea, that Enter Sandman video was something to behold!!

  9. While I do believe in protecting intellectual capital, I also believe in giving generously. Like Grateful Dead, you have to figure out where you will give freely and where you will earn money and make it harmonious. They are proof that you can do both.

    1. Thanks Shannon, I agree that finding the balance between providing something of value for free and earning a little to keep the mission going is the key. Even the Red Cross needs funding, or the mission ceases.

    1. Yep, I wonder if the Grateful Dead got together in a smoke filled room and made the conscious decision that this was the way they were going to sell their music? Maybe not, but I would like to think they were just self-less musicians.

  10. RockerSeven says:

    i guess the person who wrote this article never bothered to do their research about metallica, and just based it on the popular (and incorrect) napster assumptions. meaning that they think the napster thing was just about money, when time and time again, metallica has always stated that it was about permission to use their songs, and how if napster came to them first, then they might have been able to work something out, being that metallica is one of the bands out there that tries to embrace new technology for distributing music. they never once mentioned that it was just about money.
    maybe if the author did their research, they would find that in the past, metallica has set up specific areas at their shows to allow their fans to record their own bootlegs for free. or that metallica created the metallica vault website to allow people to download free past shows. or that metallica streamed their entire death magnetic album online for free before it was released. or how metallica has given their music for free for use before (such as to movie soundtracks), as long as they were asked permission first. or how lars has said “i don’t care if people download my music, i just don’t want them to download it before it’s done,” meaning, one big reason metallica was against napster was that their song “i disappear” was being traded before it was even finished, and they don’t want people to listen to the unfinished product.
    but no, sadly to the ill-informed, and those too lazy to do research, metallica is just greedy and napster was all about taking people’s money, and that’s that.

    1. Wow, Rocker seven, guess you are a Metallica fan. Not sure if you read in my post, the part “Metallica appeared incredibly greedy”. I was pointing out the fact, from a simplistic perspective, they were made to appear greedy and as a result, I believe it hurt their image. I also pointed out that I dig their music.

      1. RockerSeven says:

        the only problem is that they only appear greedy to those who only focus on the napster thing, and don’t acknowledge all the other times when they went above and beyond what most musicians do. there may have been a few metallica fans that said they stopped listening to their music because of it, but most of the backlash they got was from non-fans. i wasn’t a big metallica fan back then (not because of napster, but because i hadn’t discovered them yet), but as of right now, most of their fans back metallica’s decision. some agree that it could have been handled in a different way, but if anything, their fanbase and image has grown even bigger since the napster days.
        it’s ironic that you mention what if they took the grateful dead’s approach…because that’s exactly what they have always done (as i listed previously). taking everything into consideration, the napster thing is a very very small part of metallica’s history that always gets blown way out of proportion. and on top of that, when you look deeper, the entire thing comes down to making a mountain out of a molehill, in that metallica was just bringing to light the illegal distribution of music (which every CD mentions on the package with the little FBI warning) that was happening on the internet, but everyone saw passed that and figured it was about money. maybe for some of the many other artists who also joined metallica’s side against napster it was about money.
        i understand the point of this blog, though i just get upset when napster is mentioned, but none of the other extremely generous acts from the band are ever mentioned.

        1. Well maybe, since I am a fan of Metallica I can do a follow up article to this mentioning the good things that the band should be recognized for, while also going into detail about what the whole napster/metallica thing really was about?

          1. RockerSeven says:

            actually, in keeping with the theme of this blog, in that it was all about generousity, if you ever wanted to do a blog about how a single questionable act can tarnish one’s entire image (therefore one should always make sure that they are thinking before they speak/act to make sure it’s the right thing to do so as to not discredit anything they have said or done before), then usinh metallica would be a good example.
            not telling you what you should or shouldn’t blog about, but it just came to mind.

          2. Will do RockerSeven, thanks!

  11. I’m in the camp of giving my content away but that’s because I am blogging as a hobby. It’s a little easier to give away content, prizes, etc. when I’m not depending on it to put food on the table.

    1. Agreed Micro, but you would likely have to give more to get more in return if you were making a living off of your blog.

  12. That’s a good question. I would hope I’m more of the GD but I supposed you have to ask my readers. I know there are a million PF blogs and even more websites with better PF info than I could ever give, so I try as hard as I can to just be unique and engaging…to tell a story. Whatever happens at that point is out of my control.

    1. You are very similar to GD, your tribe however may just not have dreadlocks and drive VW busses. However, your similarities are that you and GD are both entertainers, though maybe on different size platforms.

  13. The Grateful Dead – content marketing the 60s way…

    Great analogy, and an interesting read, thanks!

  14. Great article and interesting outlook. We hope we’re more like the Grateful Dead than Metallica, but hope we produce work that’s even 10% of the quality of either band.

    1. Cmon, your quality is far better than you give yourself credit for!!

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