Dave Matthews Band
Matthews tour tops want list
Friday, August 25, 2000
Kristi Singer, Morning Star correspondent
Wilmington Morning Star
Copyright 2000 Wilmington Star-News
Some of the hottest, and most expensive, concert tickets this summer were those of The Dave Matthews Band. Snagging seats was a matter of luck - and cash. A single ticket cost $30-$46. But, since both North Carolina shows sold out, it's safe to say that fans are willing to spend the extra buck.
"Tickets have gone up a lot since I first saw him. They were $18 at first," said Brian Sellers, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and DMB fan. "I don't think it's his fault, though. I think the places are taking advantage of his popularity."
"That's the corporate record world for you," said Jason Jakobowski, another Matthews' fan and UNCW sophomore. "That's not him - I'm sure he likes money but any self-respecting artist would play for free if they had to."
Mr. Matthews agrees. "I think our tickets are too high," he told Rolling Stone magazine. "I don't like that our tickets are as high as they are, but I know our tickets are lower than a lot of bands that are touring. We're not extravagant, and we're not cheap. We're not completely screwing anybody. I don't think it's fair to charge more than $50. People can afford it, the economy is good. But so is the band's economy. I don't think it's necessary for any band to charge $75 to see any rock concert. I don't see any expenses that would justify that."
One thing's for sure: DMB won't be filing bankruptcy anytime soon. The band raked in more than $88 million in tour revenue over the past two years.
Both Mr. Sellers and Mr. Jakobowski were willing to spend the money, but only one was quick enough to get tickets.
"By the time I heard about the concert, it was sold out," said Mr. Sellers, who's been to four DMB shows since 1995.
How one band has gathered such a following is quite a phenomenon.
High ticket prices or not, fans are willing to get a glimpse of the guitar genius who remains down to earth, a quality that's hard to find these days. Musicians often seem untouchable, but part of the draw for a Dave Matthews fan is his "real person with raw talent" image.
"He seems really approachable," Mr. Sellers said. "From what I understood, it took him awhile to make it and he was humbled by the situation. So, he remained a normal person when he became famous."
Mr. Matthews had fans in mind when his career began to take off, a secret to longevity in the competitive music business.
"In hindsight, I wish we hadn't signed a deal," he said. "The career we've had is not entirely the result of our record company's efforts. You wonder if maybe we could have done it in a different way, and done it entirely ourselves. But our relationship with the label has been great, and that's where we're stuck right now. Not many people have the strength of character and forethought that Ani DiFranco has to build their careers by themselves."
DMB traveled from Charlottesville, Va., along the East Coast to spread their sound. The band formed in 1991 and in 1993 self-released their debut album, Remember Two Things. The album, which was distributed form the band's office, exceeded sales of 10,000 copies per month- unheard of for an unsigned band. It also was the highest independent entry on college charts.
After signing to RCA, DMB released its breakthrough, Under the Table and Dreaming, in 1994, which went platinum four times over. In 1996 it released Crash, which gained success thanks to the radio hit Crash into Me.
In 1997, it released a double CD of the band's 1995 live show at Red Rocks in Colorado- amazingly, the album climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum, all without marketing or promotion.
In 1998, it released Before These Crowded Streets and last year released two double- CD live sets. Collectively, the Dave Matthews Band has sold more than 15 million albums.