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Radio is Alive and Well at the CMJ Music Marathon

WLIU-BK Broadcasting from CMJ Exhibitor's Lounge

WLIU-BK Broadcasting from CMJ Exhibitors' Loft

Last week I was in New York City for the 29th annual CMJ Music Marathon.

From the beginning, this industry conference was a way to connect college radio DJs, label representatives, and musicians. With panels during the day and music performances at night, it’s an action-packed week designed for music discovery on a grand scale.

The college radio focus of the CMJ Music Marathon has been toned down over the years, with a much broader range of panels focused not only on radio, but also on the business of music. There’s even an entire track for lawyers, and another for the Swedish music industry.

Yet, this year I was really struck by the number of radio stations sponsoring CMJ, broadcasting from CMJ, and doing live remotes of CMJ artists. Host station WNYU at New York University even opened up its studio for a number of visiting college and community radio stations from the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. Each station curated live sets from artists performing at CMJ. Some broadcast live and others recorded the broadcasts in order to air them later.

Backbone’s Student Radio Network also facilitated live remote broadcasts from the floor of the CMJ Exhibitors’ Loft, with various college radio stations streaming live and hosting artists using their simple set-up of a laptop and microphones.

Listening Session Collection Bin at CMJ

Listening Session Collection Bin at CMJ

KEXP (Seattle) did remote broadcasts from the studios of the Cutting Room, hosting a number of bands over the course of last week. NYC’s own East Village Radio also did some live remotes from clubs during CMJ and set up shop in CMJ’s Artist Lounge.

Even commercial radio showed the love to CMJ, with 4 folks (including DJs, the Music Director and Program Director) from New York City rock radio station WRXP participating in a “listening session” panel on Tuesday, October 20th. Matt Pinfield, Leslie Fram, Matt Ianni, and Brian Phillips gave advice to aspiring musicians and even listened to a number of CDs in front of the live crowd of CMJ attendees. In the session I learned that WRXP feels a responsibility to play and support local music and that their Music Director Brian Phillips is still motivated by the “joy of presenting new music.”

The WRXP folks really dug some of the CDs that musicians handed them at CMJ and a few of those artists ended up getting played on the station later in the week. Can you imagine how excited those bands must have been?

To read more about the radio presence at CMJ, take a look at my recap on Spinning Indie. I’ll also be posting more articles about the CMJ Music Marathon, as well as reporting on my visit to WRXP.

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