CMJ Caught in Money Grab? The short version: CMJ sent an email to the 675 bands who submitted an application through Sonicbids to play at the CMJ Music Marathon, but included all 675 email addresses instead of BCC-ing them. Hilarity ensued.
But the real problem is that CMJ (allegedly) wasn’t even listening to the applicants’ songs:
“Check your SonicBids account and see how many plays you received. Ours, attached, shows that there were NO plays of any of our music by anyone (CMJ was the only ap we submitted). $45 should at the very least mean that they get an intern to click play on your song once.”
I’m surprised they reject so many bands. I’ve suspected that CMJ was a racket, but I assumed the scam was accepting every band that applied and booking them in crappy venues on Wednesday night. I’m actually a little flattered now…
Update: CMJ responds.
Glorious Noise Records had a CMJ showcase in 2005. Our bands (Riviera and Quasar Wut-Wut) had to submit Sonicbids applications, but I had been in communication with the fantastically named Johnny Chiba for weeks leading up to it. I can’t say for sure that our conversation had any effect on the bands getting accepted, but after that I worked with CMJ on getting our showcase moved from a Wednesday to a Friday night.
The CMJ guys were pretty accommodating to us. It might have helped that we bought a $500 ad in the CMJ Marathon Festival Guide. But who knows?
We all had a great time in New York, and Riviera and Quasar Wut-Wut both played tight sets as the bulk of the crowd stood outside and smoked. We didn’t sell very many CDs or T-shirts, and we didn’t bump into any big name industry types in the audience, or get any press coverage whatsoever. So financially, it was a complete disaster. But who cares? The website subsidizes the label, and we all had a blast. We should’ve stayed an extra night. But sneaking twelve dudes into two hotel rooms is probably something you can get away with for one night, but not two. The hotel employees were already getting suspicious…
Update: CMJ talks to the Fork…
“As head of the staff who reviews the music and selects the artists for the marathon, I can tell you firsthand that we do in fact listen to at least two songs from every single artist who applies. For the ease of listening, the showcase department downloads mp3s from Sonicbids EPKs and drops them into our iTunes player. Sonicbids has recently changed their system to track streamed plays, however it does not currently track these mp3 downloads, making it appear that we did not listen when in fact we did. We can report back which specific songs were reviewed. Our review process is extremely thorough and difficult and with or without payment for submissions, I cannot even fathom the injustice of ignoring any submissions. I can reassure you that each and every artist was given the same respect and critique.”