Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jerry Garcia, Phish, and Focusing on the Audience

Image Credit: Zooomabooma
Sixteen years ago today Jerry Garcia passed away at the age of 53. For a band that only had one top ten hit, Touch of Grey in 1987, the Grateful Dead sure did tour for a long time and make a lot of money. Similarly, Phish has had a long run, makes lots of money, and has not had any Casey Kasem chart-toppers. So how did they do this? They let you share, redistribute, and remix their music as long you follow the rules like this one from an upcoming Phish show in Colorado: $60.00 General Admission Floor and $47.50 General Admission Stands (tapers must have GA floor Tickets). 


At this point you might be thinking, "Richard's gone off the deep end." Don't worry there's a tie-in to education coming. But truth be told I've wanted to write a post mentioning two of my favorite bands for a long time. 


These bands have toured for more than a combined fifty years but only had occasional appearances in "mainstream" success metrics. Yet they were and are extremely successful because they focus(ed) on reaching their core audiences instead of trying to make broad appeals like so many of those atrocious boy bands. As teachers we're also not likely to receive huge mainstream kudos (heck I might settle for our profession not being lambasted in the press), but if we can maintain focus on our core audiences we can sleep at night knowing that we will be successful.