The CMJ Panels are possibly the least hyped events at CMJ (if there were flyers advertising them they weren't noticeable). However, they are among the most important to the industry as a whole, running the gamut of professional tracks such as: Technology, International, Politics, Legal Issues and Legislation, and Music Business Basics -- they don't really require the extra advertising. If something was relevant to the industry, you can be sure there was a panel covering it. The rooms at NYU were crammed with business savvy bands and scantily-clad or painstakingly unkempt, off-putting earnest college students looking to make it in the biz. I now possess the shared wisdom of at least 20 “industry” people, or at least the wisdom they were willing to or able to impart during the day panels. And by reading this, you too will share in this DRM-free, invaluable wisdom.
Synched Up: Innovations in Music Listening
- The players: producers, multimedia consultants, lawyers
- Description: “This session looks at the deployment of new media applications in TV, film, video games and mobile technology with perspectives from record labels, publishers, and more.”
- Translation: How can musicians and indie bands make more money? How can various industries save money when it comes to licensing music? Solution: License original music from unknown bands that sound really similar to well-known and most likely expensive songs.
Music Website Gurus Panel
- The players: social music startups, webzine writers, bloggers
- Description: "Compares and contrasts the efforts of big budget and digital media outlets with music websites that started with a URL and a dream."
- Translation: Lonely guys in their bedrooms have built an online following with their computer and the internet. How are music startups and tech companies going to do the same thing? Solution: Spend lots of money to gain, analyze, and license content and/or build social networking sites overseen by editorial staff in an effort to compete with other companies doing minutely different things in an effort to attract crowds and sell music.
Disposable Content Panel
- The players: record label marketers, producers, social music startups, and David Thomas from Pere Ubu
- Description: "Has the availability of affordable recording equipment and the permeation of the Internet devalued music? Explore how technology has changed the core value of musical content."
- Quotes that sum up the panel from David Thomas:
"Without the full range of the language of sound, we are doomed."
"Screw the audience; art is forever. The audience comes and goes -- it's not a community, it's a marketplace."
Culture Convergence: Art & Music
- The players: graphic designers, clothing marketers, label managers
- Artists, designers, and directors discuss the intersection of art and music as it relates to album artwork, media design, the gallery scene and art as live entertainment.
- Translation: How do art and design facilitate bands making more money? Solution: making crazy, unique, and/or unprofitable merchandise. As sales of physical music fall, fans are looking for ways to connect with material merchandise related to a band, as long as it's really cool and, goes without saying, in limited edition.
The New A & R
- The players: “suits,” social music startups, producers
- Music Supervisors, bloggers, and international music fans are replacing the traditional label-based A&R system. Experts discuss the new ways artists are being discovered, advertising agency A&R, commercial placement of music and the nuances of internet buzz.
- Translation: How do record labels deal with decreasing relevance? Solution: who are we kidding? quit working for a label and start your own consulting firm or startup.
A little advice to all the young, scruffy, go-getter, business card-dealing attendees: you might want to dress a little more professionally. That extra small sweater from the babies section at Target might have won you cool points at the show last night, but I have a feeling you're not going to be impressing anyone. Unless of course you're there blogging; in that case I salute you!