Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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College music at its finest

“College Music Journal” is the “Billboard” of college radio. It is an industry magazine based in New York that lists the top-charting artists and songs that collegiate DJs are spinning around the country.

WSUM in Madison is listed in “CMJ,” now that it has hit the air. The magazine also focuses on Internet radio, touring music and all kinds of cool artists that are just below the pop threshold. Interviews, profiles, reviews, all the typical stuff you see in a music magazine are part of “CMJ”‘s monthly format, and it comes to life once a year in Manhattan. I was able to pay for a student entrance badge this year and attend the mayhem.

CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival is headquartered at the swanky Hilton on 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The Marathon is an absolute industry hive, with all of the A&R people buzzing about the new hit thing. Plenty of bands that used to be “CMJ” darlings are now MTV’s cash cows, so it is a great gig for ambitious performers.

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The hotel hosts hundreds of business booths, panels of speakers and daytime performances. Any badge member can stop at the booth for The Village Voice, the nation’s best alternative weekly newspaper, play with computers at RadioTakeOver.com’s set up, or grab a free “Paper” magazine at the media rack, all while listening to bands like VHS or Beta or I am The World Trade Center play in the background on the Daystage in the Hilton.

And please, do not forget to network. Everyone in town plays in a band or books a band or books a venue or works for a radio station or works for a record label. Some are just along for the ride (like me). The purpose of the Marathon is exposure and networking, and it seems to work out pretty well for everyone.

All of this daytime fun collides quickly into nighttime carousing. The Music Marathon packs a tight can of sardines. Hundreds of venues throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and even a venue in Hoboken, New Jersey, host thousands of performers. Opportunity cost becomes a problem: if you attend one show, you will inevitably miss something else fantastic. And you have to live with the fear that you made the wrong decision. It still burns to think about it!

Some of the big names on this year’s list were: English DJ outfit Chemical Brothers, Icelandic weird beauty music Sigur Ros, the hottest of all whiteboy hip-hop Jurassic 5, southern boys Nappy Roots, Blink-182 member-havin’ Box Car Racer, old kids on the block Medeski Martin & Wood, suicidal billygoat heartthrob Bright Eyes, Mr. Show himself David Cross, and many more that have already “made it.”

Some names that you may not have heard of yet but were the toast of the town: Soundtrack of Our Lives, never-put-out-a-record-but-no-one-cares-because-they’re-HOT Yeah Yeah Yeahs, trashy-fun The Moldy Peaches, surfing-in-Modest-Mouse’s-wake Ugly Casanova and, New York’s finest, The Walkmen.

Then there are the Swedes! The Marathon showcased several Scandinavian rockers that are infiltrating American rock and definitely keeping it interesting. The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Division of Laura Lee, Ikara Colt, rocking girl group Sahara Hot Nights, and a few more Nordic imports drew huge crowds throughout the weekend.

They speak English almost perfectly. Almost. And when they butcher some idiom, that’s just plain cute.

For those who have some stake in the music industry, CMJ Music Marathon is an important time to meet, hear and collaborate with important folks. It is still informational and a whole lot of fun for the wannabes, too. As Ferris Beuller once said, “If you have the means, I highly recommend it.”

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