Coran Capshaw has managed to live largely under the radar as the brains behind the business of Dave Matthews Band. Over the years Capshaw has achieved incredible success by exploring private business investments and ventures separate from DMB, and then finding a way to tie them back into the business of the band.
Capshaw began his relationship with Dave and the boys in Charlottesville, booking the band every Tuesday night from September 1991 to December 1993.
Following the first windows version of America Online in 1993, Capshaw had quickly realized the potential business opportunity in providing dial-up internet access.
By the end of his management reign at Trax, he moved on to plans for founding Red Light Communications in 1994. This was a new kind of company called an Internet Service Provider.
Dave Matthews Band took off, and so did Coran's merchandising arm. Merch booths at shows couldn't keep up with a geographically expanding fanbase fueled by an open trading policy. Capshaw realized that if If people were willing to go to the trouble of tape trading in online newsgroups, the would certainly want access to DMB themed goods on the web.
In 1997 RLC acquired an ISP competitor and grew itself into the local favorite for dial-up internet access. It also was responsible for the first roll-out of DMBand.com. In January of 1999, RLC merged with MMF and MusicToday to form a full service "e-commerce and phone/mail-order enterprise."
Coran had created a full service online merchandising solution that would handle fan clubs, online stores, ticketing and eventually digital downloads. MusicToday now serves major clients such as the Rolling Stones, Metallica, Eminem, Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks, The Grateful Dead and its number one customer Dave Matthews Band.
Between tours, the boys get downtime with their families and friends. Fenton heads home and catches up on his housework. Capshaw heads back to Charlottesville and buys multi-million dollar commercial properties.
Fifteen of Capshaw's properties in Charlottesville have an assessed value of nearly 50 million dollars. C-Ville Weekly's article "It's Capshaw's world ...we just live in it" explains that his holdings go beyond this number. Part of the difficulty in identifying his purchases lies in the fact that they are held under a collection of limited liability corporations.
Despite his mogul status in Charlottesville, he has kept his tenants happy. "Coran has been great" said John Chmil owner of A Local Choice Copies, a business that leases space on one of Capshaw's properties.
Charlottesville is a small city, with a population in the neighborhood of 44,000 people. For comparison, it is about the size of Olympia Washington. Any time you become involved in major development of a city of this size, you can count on some local opposition. Capshaw has taken great care to establish a series of philanthropic moves to help shield the more profitable aspects of his work.
Even in philanthropy he is able to tie DMB to his personal business. Capshaw managed to funnel funnel $800,000 of the money raised at DMB's Central Park Concert into the creation of a the new nonprofit Music Resource Center in Charlottesville.
His efforts to preserve the local opinion of his developments include acquiring County properties for the purpose preservation by placing open space easements on them. In 2000 he purchased Seven Oaks, a Virginia Historic Landmark assessed at $3.3 million. This property was previously the stomping grounds for Viscountess Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
Capshaw captured the 2004 Pollstar Manager of the the Year award at the 10th Annual Concert Industry Consortium. Both Dave and Boyd showed up for the event to honor their successful manager.
Conference break-out sessions discussed everything from international touring to using tribal casinos as venues. Capshaw sat on the panel for "Changing Channels - Ticket Auctions, Fan Clubs & Beyond."
Despite Dave's clear hostility to Clear Channel in the recent rolling stone article, Chris Alexander of Clear Channel Entertainment was lavishing praise on Capshaw's ability to form an effective fan club.
“It creates a means to have a direct relationship with the customers that’s incredibly important to the bands. They actually communicate directly and are better able to service those fans’ needs with dialogue and feedback from fans to artist,”
Dave Matthews Band is founded on excellent song writing and a collection of talent that fuses to create a sound that is singularly important to many people. But it is without a doubt that Coran Capshaw is one of the main reasons DMB is as big of a band as it is today.
Since the early days of DMB, Capshaw has managed to weave the business of DMB and his own private ventures together successfully. The popularity of DMB shows no sign of slowing down and with the continued success of his investments and ventures, Capshaw doesn't either.
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