Adult alternative filled an important niche in the 1990s, acting as a middle ground for artists too safe for the alt rock crowd of the day, yet well short of the level of conservatism preferred by the adult contemporary/lite rock audience. Adult alternative wisely found a balanced following between genders, both onstage and in the audience; women and men were drawn in equal numbers to performances by the Dave Matthews Band and Jewel, demonstrating the genre's commercial dominance since the rise of alternative in the early '90s. Albums by both Sarah McLachlan and Hootie & the Blowfish sold in far greater numbers than the decade's more experimental offerings by '80s stylistic lynchpins R.E.M. and U2. The southern bellows of Hootie, the gentle pop of Jewel and McLachlan, the neo-classicism of Natalie Merchant, and the energetic jam-pop of Matthews each found comfortable homes on radio stations dedicated to the readily accessible adult alternative format, as well as on VH-1, MTV's less-raucous sibling.