It's definitely not easy to make money in the music business these days. The best-selling album of 2000, N*SYNC's No Strings Attached, sold 11 million copies. Last year's best-selling album, Recovery, by Eminem, sold 5.6 million copies, and it was one of the few successes.
The conventional wisdom is that musicians don't make money on albums, but they do on the road—yet Lady Gaga lost money on her tour for awhile, due to the scale of her production.
Then you have the Dave Matthews Band. You probably know a few DMB fans. Maybe you even are one. And they're making more money than you probably think in an era when everyone else is going broke:
When I say DMB lives to tour, I do not jest: Every summer for the past two decades, the band has hit the road. In 2010, that meant playing 62 shows in 50 cities to 1,270,477 fans—more than any other artist touring in North America. The group also took trips to Europe and South America, and there was a Dave Matthews and guitarist Tim Reynolds mini-tour. And the year was hardly unusual. Since 1992, Dave Matthews Band in its various iterations has played a whopping 1,692 shows.
So the precipitous decline in record sales in the past decade has hardly hurt DMB's profitability: The band makes the bulk of its money touring anyway. And it makes a lot of money doing it. According to Billboard Boxscore, between 2000 and 2009, DMB sold more tickets to its shows than any other band on the planet, moving a staggering 11,230,696 tickets. (No other band sold more than 10 million tickets in the same time period.) In the aughts, DMB grossed more than $500 million from touring alone.
Take a second and let that sink in: In the last 10 years, one band grossed $500 million from playing concerts.
I'll probably still change the station when "Ants Marching" comes on, but I'll change it with begrudging respect.