Salem Eames, Culture Editor
Tuesday last week, 16 members of SUNY Oneonta’s radio station, WONY 90.9 FM, travelled to New York City for the 31st annual CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival.
In addition to organizing the conference, CMJ (College Music Journal) publishes a weekly magazine about college radio and the music industry, as well as a Top 30 chart compiled from lists sent by registered college stations.
WONY has been sending students to the conference for as long as its current members can remember. Andrew Lowden, WONY’s Program Director and Top 200 Director, has attended the conference for the past three years. He told the State Times that “CMJ is a reason for people like myself – a college DJ – to get the opportunity to go to New York and see a whole lot of music… It gives me the opportunity to meet people who I work with in the radio industry and to go see the bands that I work with in the radio station.” Lowden is responsible for making and keeping contacts with radio promoters, reviewing the music they send to the station, and charting weekly to CMJ. The CMJ conference is the time where he gets to meet up in person with these contacts, as well as witness firsthand the music that goes into the station’s rotation.
Throughout the five day long conference from October 18 to 22, over 1,300 bands played at more than 80 venues scattered throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. Many of the showcases were sponsored by various radio promoters hoping to break their bands and build rapport with DJs, music directors and other industry personnel. In total, 120,000 people were in attendance at the conference, including fans, press, musicians, panelists and professionals.
During the day, CMJ badge-holders had the option of attending numerous panels and lectures held on the NYU campus. Featured panelists this year included Pete Ganbarg, the Head of A&R at Atlantic Records, Charles Slomovitz, US Music Manager of Shazam, and Josh Berman, Label Manager at Warp Records, among many others. The panel discussion topics covered numerous music industry-related issues, including A&R, branding, blogging, social media, emerging technology and DIY.
WONY’s Music Director, Ashley Dean, spoke to the State Times on the importance of the festival: “CMJ is important now more than ever because college radio is in jeopardy…It is important for college radio stations to get together to see what is happening in college radio, to stay up to date on FCC laws… and to keep in touch with our contacts, where we get music from.”
Many of the students who attended found the conference especially compelling because of their field of study. “It’s very important for music industry majors especially,” said Dean, a music industry major herself. “Record labels hire a third party company to market their albums to college radio. These third parties I talk to throughout the year… I meet with them [at the CMJ conference], putting a name to a face and networking, making connections and making sure they know that WONY has a strong presence on college radio.” Dean stressed that this conference was an excellent opportunity to put classroom knowledge of the music industry to work with real on-the-ground experience.
“I got to reconnect with a lot of people I met through my internship,” Dean said. ”And it’s not just about radio; there are a lot of labels there, a lot of music industry people in general, so it was great to just meet different people from all sectors of the business, and I saw some great music.”