Monday, November 3, 2014

CMJ Wrap Up and My Unsolicited Advice for Future Festivals

  This was the first CMJ I had a badge and no job, SO, it was the first Music Marathon that I really got to fully experience. It was pretty much five straight days of being out and about from 2-2, living off mostly beer and pizza with a healthy mix of dumplings, night nachos, and Vita Coco thrown in for good measure. I didn't do a great job taking notes/videos/etc. I figured the sets that were worth remembering would stick in my head. I could have made it out to more shows (like Northside '13 when I saw a whopping 38 bands (not counting the 2 I played in) in three days), but seriously, it's not a contest. Anyhow, you'd have to be sharper than I to digest all those tunes into something other than a throbbing grey blob of hip haircuts, PA feedback squeal, and wobbly half-drunk "good-set-man" after show handshakes.

View from the artist lounge at the The Hotel Rivington. I'm really not classy enough to be up here.

For those of you who don't know the history of the festival, here's a brief rundown; CMJ (College Media Journal) was started in the late 70's as a sort of Billboard charts for college radio stations (and still functions in that capacity today). Beginning in 1980, there's been a yearly gathering of these bands, at first mostly in NYC's Lower East Side, but now split between the city and Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This was bomb shit for the music industry back in 1984; you could see all these regional bands in one place and scout new talent without having to send your minions out to Athens or Minneapolis or any other nowhere town that didn't begin with "New" and end with "York City."

Needless to say, media has changed a lot over the years. Spin magazine, 120 Minutes, Alt-rock becoming mainstream, and lastly (but most importantly) the emergence of the internet, all contributed to CMJ's steady decline as a taste-makeing powerhouse. Buzz that was once generated by hand now rolls off an almost entirely automated assembly line. There isn't a band who doesn't want college radio airplay, but it's nowhere near the priority it once was. Despite the ability to stream college radio from almost anywhere in the world, it's becoming more and more rare for anyone, even in hardcore indie circles, to turn to college radio as a discovery vehicle.
Captured on Instagram as I begin my CMJ vision quest.