Billboard Touring Conference Takes on Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well

The key players behind the Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well shows will discuss the complex process that led to the biggest concert event of the summer in a Keynote Case Study at the 12th annual Billboard Touring Conference, set for Nov. 18-19 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.

Titled "The Golden Road to Fare Thee Well: A Breakdown on the Biggest Concert Event in the History of the Earth," the panel will be moderated by Billboard news director Shirley Halperin, who broke the story on Taking part in the discussion will be Barry Drinkwater, CEO, Global Merchandising Services, which oversaw the merch operation for Fare Thee Well; attorney Eric Greenspan, partner, Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light LLP, which represented the band for Fare Thee Well; Tim LeFevour, general manager, Soldier Field, site of the July 3-5 final performances; Mike Luba, partner, Madison House Presents, co-producer of Fare Thee Well; Cole Marley, director of ticketing, Ticketstoday, the firm behind the groundbreaking online lottery for Fare Thee Well; and Peter Shapiro, founder, DayGlo Ventures, the man largely credited as the driving force in reuniting the Dead for these record-breaking shows.
While most predicted a success when news came that the "core four" of the Grateful Dead would re-unite (with Trey Anastasio sitting in for late guitarist Jerry Garcia) for a series of 50th anniversary shows at Chicago's Soldier Field and Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., few envisioned the intense excitement that would surround the shows — nor the massive business generated. Fare Thee Well grossed a total of $52.2 million, according to Boxscore, from more than 362,000 tickets sold, and hundreds of thousands more watched in theaters, at home, and online as the biggest pay-per-view music event of all time. Merch numbers reached Super Bowl-esque proportions as the event transcended the Dead scene to become a cultural phenomenon and the music event of 2015.
In achieving what many thought was unachievable — resurrecting the Dead — Fare Thee Well also put Shapiro on the map as a touring industry force. "Putting on the Fare Thee Well shows was a long, complicated, passionate process that was, ultimately, the best experience of my career," Shapiro tells Billboard.  "I look forward to discussing what it took to make this giant event come to life with the people who made it happen."

By Ray Waddell 
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