CMJ Music Marathon 2013 continues festival’s embracement of undiscovered talentPosted on October 22, 2013 | by Brian Capuder
The CMJ Music Marathon is a five-day music extravaganza that has taken place in New York in mid-October since 1980. This year, CMJ sprawled out to over 80 venues in New York from Oct. 15 to 19. Over 1,400 artists came in an attempt to be noticed and deemed the next big thing in music. It’s not a festival the way Lollapalooza and Coachella are festivals — rather, it’s more along the lines of South By Southwest.
The primary difference between CMJ and SXSW, however, is that SXSW is a platform that will catapult an act into the indie mainstream, whereas success at CMJ means more attention from blogs. CMJ is merely a stepping stone that provides an act the opportunity to be on the radar of the indie world.
As one might imagine, most bands come out of CMJ unnoticed. This happens in part due to the nature of CMJ — at 10 p.m. on each weekday of CMJ, there are at least 15 shows happening at once. Even though people journey from all over the world to attend, the sheer volume of shows makes planning a tentative schedule near impossible. This can be discouraging for musicians, especially local acts hoping to use CMJ to step into the spotlight only to find just their friends in the audience.
The biggest acts that performed this year were The Head and The Heart, Father John Misty, Savages and Real Estate. CMJ always puts together a few surprise events — this year it was a pair of secret Arcade Fire shows in Brooklyn Oct. 18 and 19. They performed for about an hour each day and were a huge topic of discussion among concertgoers.
But such bands are already huge names among indie-rock fans — they do not cater to the festival’s overall spirit. Crowds at other shows experienced shorter waits and bigger surprises. Woodkid, for example, known previously for his music video direction (Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die”), became a hot topic when the line for his CMJ show spanned multiple blocks, all thanks to word of mouth and hype. Electronic bands Strange Talk and Joywave both scored minor hits on the blogosphere with previous singles (“Climbing Walls,” “Tongues”), but thanks to the exposure at CMJ, only time will tell how big their next singles will be.
As much as CMJ is not the place to see an act that is already big, in true indie rock spirit, it’s the place to watch a band before success hits. Be on the lookout for CMJ’s ripple effects in music world buzz in coming months.
Visit www.wsnhighlighter.com for more coverage of the CMJ Music Marathon.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 22 print edition. Brian Capuder is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.