In 1973, the Grateful Dead started there own "in-house" record company. The original fantasy was to distribute the records from ice cream trucks outside concerts. As it turned out, things developed in a more traditional direction, as outlined in the mailers that were sent out before and after the first release, Wake of the Flood.
Grateful Dead Records
September 4, 1973
Fellow Dead Head,
There are two reasons for writing to you now; first to give you the earliest specific information on our new record distribution program; secondly to ask you to join us as part of our eyes, cars and feet on the ground to keep the scene straight locally.
We've decided to produce, manufacture and distribute our records ourselves. The band today finished the recording of an all new studio album (been a long time) called "Wake of the Flood". The album will be made from the highest quality vinyl available, which has the best technical properties. In addition, it will be heavier (weigh more, that is) than most albums available in this country. It will be handled locally through independent record distributors and should be available everywhere.
This adventure is a jumping off point to get us in a position of greater contact with our people, to put us more in command of our own ship, and for unspoken potentials for the "far out."
If you're interested in getting involved, drop us a line here. In any case you'll enjoy the record - it's dynamite!
FELLOW DEAD HEADS,
The response from you folks knocked us over. It was so great to hear from so many of you that we figured you'd like to see some of each other's lines which are separately enclosed.
The business at hand, i. e. our record scene, looks like:
As you can see from the diagram we sell records to only 18 distributors who in turn sell to stores, rack jobbers (who just stock record departments and racks in stores like Penney's and Supermarkets etc. and one stops which are places where small stores get small quantities of records. They are all listed in the yellow pages under Record Dealers -Wholesale and Retail.
Radio stations exist to play what you want to hear. If you want to hear the Dead over the air waves, repeated calls to the stations should be made
You've probably already noticed that we sent you some boss art work, (we call it our guerilla kit) enough for your own stash and to put up elsewhere. The end of this road is the people, and wouldn't it be a gas if stickers, postcards, and posters were everywhere?
WHAT TO DO:
1. Nothing unless it's fun.
2. Call on the stores and one stops mentioned above, say hello and see that our stuff is neatly arranged. We've found that sometimes we've had to neaten up everybody's stuff because many of the people that work there don't understand that these things are our art.
3. Call the local distributor if a record store doesn't have our record (you can find out who our local distributor is by asking any large record store.)
4. Put up the posters, stickers, and handbills.
5. Call the radio stations and ask to hear your favorite album cuts.
6. Whatever you can think up that's fun for you and fun for other folks, too.
This should give you an inside look into the record industry which will at least give you some interesting pieces of information; have fun.
Grateful Dead Records