With CMJ now behind us (thankfully), it’s time to catch up on sleep, then use our rested brains to actually process the music, sponsorship tie-ins, and other oddities that descended on New York City last week. We asked one musician who’s been performing at the festival for years to give us his behind-the-scenes view, and it follows after the jump.
After over a decade on the rock and roll D-list, it was easy for me to get swept up in the wave of cynicism that descended on NYC last week. CMJ once was, and perhaps still is, held out to up-and-coming young bands as a crucial, career-making step on the road to indie rock success–at least before the eventual return to obscurity). But it’s long since been revealed as just another opportunity for product placement and high-school regression therapy for music journos, publicists, and any label intern lucky enough to be given power over a clipboard or velvet rope.
But, you know what? I think I’m OK with that. Part of the fun of big CMJ-type events, if there is any fun to be had, comes from complaining about them. I mean, no one actually enjoys music any more, right?
Me: “How’s your week going?”
Person X: “O.K., but exhausting.”
Me: “Seen many bands?”
Person X: “Oh, yeah.”
Me: “Any good?”
Person X: “Not really. How about you? See anything any good?”
Me: “I saw the re-release of Blade Runner at the Zeigfeld. It was awesome!”
Not only was it awesome, it was a great jumping-off point for commiserating with folks about the whole CMJ experience–a bunch of synthetic humans (bands, music industry people, me), running through a nightmarish landscape (uh, Williamsburg), trying to figure out who is real and who isn’t (still up for debate), while attempting to outrun their pre-programmed four-year life span. Har har har.
So yes, while I lament the passing of the days when I held on to the illusion that these things–or at least my involvement in them–had some sort of impact, I’ll still go and I’ll still have a relatively good time. Because, at the end of the day, it’s kind of enjoyable to bitch about the state of the music business and the people in it, industry festivals in general, and the fact that some of the rooms I stumbled into during the course of the week made me want to shoot myself in the face. And, no matter how much I roll my eyes in front of other people, the fact is that I’m more than willing to debase myself for Pumas, Levis, or whatever else the people giving them out want to make me stand in line for–because not only does that wait give me something to complain about, a Choco Taco sponsored by Urban Outfitters is still a free mother f’n Choco Taco.
Earlier: Idolator’s 2007 CMJ coverage