Matt McDonald: The CMJ Music Marathon

A Marathon Of A Showcase:  The CMJ Music Marathon.

Now in its 29th year, the CMJ Music Marathon is the largest and longest running music industry event of its kind in the world. Taking place in New York over five days and nights each October, the event hosts 1300 music acts across 75 venues, along with approximately 70 industry panels and a film festival.

In its history, an eclectic mix of acts have performed at the marathon; chosen to reflect the music being aired on college and non-commercial radio stations. As Matt McDonald, VP of artists and events at CMJ explains:

“We have all types of genres, including hip-hop, electronic, singer-songwriter, metal, and avant-garde, but the biggest percentage of acts fall into the indie rock world.”

Over the years bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stoneage, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Death Cab for Cutie have performed at the event. In recent years, WA acts have performed at the event as part of a WA Music Industry Association Showcase. As Matt says:

“Paul Bodlovich from the West Australian Music Industry Association met with us a few years ago, and we’ve been happy to have several acts from WA play since then, both independently and as part of a dedicated WAM showcase.”

Submitted through the Sonicbids website, the acts chosen to perform throughout the marathon are reviewed by CMJ’s Showcase Department.

“The Showcase Department reviews each band that submits – which involves listening to at least two songs as well as looking at bio, press reviews, and tour history. If the songs are good and there seems to be some kind of upward momentum then chances are good that you’ll be accepted,” Matt says.

Since 2007, WA acts such as Eskimo Joe, The Dirty Secrets, Gigantic, Bird to Prey and The Panda Band have performed as part of the WAM showcase. Matt says such an opportunity is often a bands introduction to the US market. Being able to build a small tour or set of showcases around the event has been a strategy often employed by the WA acts.

“[Performing at the marathon] can either open up additional doors and set the framework for advancing their career in the States, or it can highlight the importance of having enough momentum in their home territory before they make the jump internationally.”

Further helping strengthen the relationship between WAM and CMJ, Matt was a speaker at this year’s WAMi Music Business Conference held in May. He says:

“The WAMi Conference was a fantastic event. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the music scene in WA and the professionalism of the artists, as well as the enthusiasm of the audience. The daytime conferences also featured a nice array of speakers and some genuinely engaged audience members.”

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Copyright (C) 2009 Christina Ballico.

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