Dispatch Tickets for Sale
The Roseland Ballroom in New York City is a legendary venue. It holds some 3,300 people and books major bands. So when a Boston-based band called Dispatch filled the place in November 2001, it was a big deal. They were, it turned out, the first band not signed to a major label ever to sell out the 75-year-old hall. After the show, the promoter hosted a champagne reception backstage and presented the band's three members, Pete Francis, Chad Urmston, and Brad Corrigan—with framed "Sold Out" posters commemorating the event. At the time, the band had rarely been heard on the radio, and they had a couple of songs in light rotation in Philadelphia and Denver and a bit more frequently in Chicago. They'd never been on MTV. They'd released a handful of self-funded CDs on Bomber Records, a label they'd started in college six years earlier, and had sold them mainly at gigs and local stores and through their Web site. Without a major label Dispatch knew a key to success was a solid fan base. The Internet sped things up.
As file-swapping services like Napster gained favor, Dispatch fans downloaded feverishly—more free promotion, putting the band on the radar in new cities. Dispatch went on to become one of the biggest independent bands on Napster and one of its biggest champions: When the site came under attack in Congress in 2001, founder Shawn Fanning asked Dispatch to headline a pro-Napster show in Washington, D.C. When their fourth CD, Who Are We Living For?, was released in 2001, it debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard Internet releases chart, and Rolling Stone named it one of the top 10 albums of the year. Because they were independent, the band raked in profits. They decided to pour most of the tour revenue into a recently released DVD/CD, appropriately called Under the Radar, that documents the band's history, after almost breaking up last spring. The release was No. 9 on the Billboard music video chart in late October.