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Sometimes The Lights Are Shining On Me. Other Times I Can Barely See. And when you work on business change I’ll bet It Occurs To You What a Long Strange Trip It Can Be.

As much as I write about business change and as many times as I’ve held the music labels and music business in general up as examples of how business change doesn’t get done, it somehow never crossed my mind that Jerry Garcia and his Grateful Dead band mates were among the earliest and most successful practitioners of the art of business change.

Until I saw this video.

And when it turned out that the video profiled Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan and was shot at the Hubspot offices near Boston, my mind started racing.

You may remember me sharing my opinion of Hubspot a few months ago. Hubspot is truly an amazing service, but read that piece and you’ll see why it’s a business change you should avoid. Nevertheless, Hubspot is the very embodiment of business change, both for itself as a marketing business helping its customers do long tail marketing and for those customers.

The Grateful Dead may well have invented long tail marketing. Who knew?

Traditionally, recording artists make very little from their music sales. Old, established bands can beat this, and Pink Floyd, for example, slapped their music label around, but good, when business change happened. But for the artist the money in music has always been in concert ticket sales and merchandise.

The tickets, of course, are only available (at least until resellers get involved) from the band; you can’t sell more tickets than the venues being played have available. And more often than not only the band’s authorized merchants can sell tee shirts and such at the concerts, or for that matter, anywhere; there are copyright and trademark issues involved.

The Grateful Dead grabbed the long tail decades ago. Concertgoers were not only allowed to record and redistribute concerts, but encouraged to do so. Regular people sold Grateful Dead tee shirts and other merchandise at shows, unfettered. The Dead made a fortune, became famous, and long tail marketing made it happen.

See where I’m going?

Whether it’s  a conversation about coopetition like letting fans sell tee shirts, or Search Engine Optimization, business change takes courage. Brian Halligan sees it. The Grateful Dead saw it.

And you see it too . . . right?

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