CMJ's Music Marathon: What's in store for digital music?

As the annual music festival descends upon New York, a lot of questions about digital music might be answered. Or not.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Hordes of musicians, industry insiders, and audiophiles are in the process of descending upon New York for this year's CMJ Music Marathon, the annual five-day event held by music publishing company College Music Journal. The 2007 edition, which starts on Tuesday, features over 1,000 bands and artists--mostly independent, but with a few popular names like Spoon, Coheed & Cambria, and '90s veterans the Meat Puppets--at several dozen venues around the city.

There are also a seemingly endless number of panels to attend, from "Pocket Jockin': Mobile Music and the Future of Distribution" to "Booze, Boobs and Bribes."

So why is an indie-culture lovefest of interest to new-media news junkies--or in other words, how on earth was I able to convince my boss to let me go to a bunch of concerts and call it "work?"

It's no secret that this is a pivotal time for the music industry. High-profile artists are ditching their major labels (but is it just a publicity stunt?), the RIAA is cracking down on piracy, and some formerly hyped-up start-ups are faltering. There are going to be a lot of big-time and small-time influencers at CMJ. It's inevitable that some of the buzz at the festival will give a better idea of what we'll be seeing down the road.

Plus, digital music companies, eager to get a leg up on Apple's iTunes and other industry leaders and spread the word at an event full of influential music fans, are quick to make sure their names are branded somewhere on CMJ's roster. Media-sharing social network Imeem has a CMJ tie-in page, and alternative music store AmieStreet sponsored a competition to pick an independent band to open for Norwegian dance-punk act Datarock on Thursday night (the winner, for the record, was The Epochs).

In fact, for the ambitious, deal-friendly music subscription service Rhapsody, the party's starting early: on Monday night, the RealNetworks division is hosting a pre-CMJ concert featuring buzzworthy Brooklyn indie rock band The National.

And, to top it all off, on Thursday there'll be a screening of "Quarterlife," the new series that a coalition of TV veterans have created for the MySpaceTV platform.

It's going to be a marathon week (literally). Music fans, if you're going, make sure you've got your energy drinks and earplugs close at hand.

Maybe I'll see you there.