By Kendall McCabe & Max Johnson
KRUI’s music director Max Johnson and website editor-in-chief Kendall McCabe recently visited New York City to attend the 2012 CMJ Music Marathon and participate in the CMJ College Radio Day. Read about all their adventures in the Big Apple right here!
Kendall: Max and I started our CMJ adventure by attending the “Music Journalism Exploded” panel at NYU’s campus on October 16th. SPIN’s editor-in-chief Caryn Ganz, Billboard’s Bill Werde, MTV’s Jessica Robertson, and freelancer and former Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston were the panelists. Benjamin Wagner, the Senior Vice President of MTV News, moderated the star-studded panel’s discussion.
Bill Werde, the self-described “dick” of the panel, offered a really useful model for accepting jobs as a freelancer. He said his triangular formula for accepting freelance gigs must fulfill two of the following three criteria:
1. The job is for an editor you want to work with
2. The job pays well
3. The topic is something you care passionately about.
The panelists also discussed how they got to where they are today. Ganz specifically suggested that any job in an organization you want to work with is a way in the door. All the panelists agreed that showing your resourcefulness as a journalist and demonstrating your ability to write thoughtful and error-free pieces are important to moving forward in the world of music journalism.
While all the panelists represented fairly traditional media and well-known music journalism platforms, a few also suggested that upcoming media platforms like Tumblr Storyboard are also worth pursuing.
This panel was the first of the week, and also my favorite panel. As a journalism major, I was very inspired to get into the music journalism field as a career. We also ran into KRUI alum Eric Sundermann at this panel, who now works at the Village Voice as an arts editorial assistant.
Also, it’s worth noting that the view from the 10th floor of the NYU building was pretty spectacular.
Max: Our next panel was called “Galleries Are Venues, Too”. It covered how the line between “gallery” and “music venue” has been blurred. The panel was probably the most “star-studded” group of speakers of our whole CMJ experience — we were feet from from Keith Shocklee (of Public Enemy) and Oliver “Power” Grant (of WuTang Clan). Pretty dope, right?
It was also the panel that, perhaps, gave the most concrete advice for KRUI’s future. We learned a variety of different ways to bring music into unique spaces — a central conceit of KRUI’s new approach to booking concerts around town. Shocklee and “Power” each argued for the importance of a space to the music inside of it (and vice versa), while Joe Ahaern (a leader in the New York gallery movement) argued that art spaces will need to include music to stay financially viable in the future.
Kendall: Our final panel of the day was chosen because of one reason — the owner of Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans/Secretly Canadian would be speaking. Nevertheless, we actually learned a lot from all the panelists.
On Tuesday night, we ventured over to Rockwood Music Hall to see Norwegian singer-songwriter Marit Larsen play an early show. Her sweet, childlike voice— very reminiscent to that of The Weepies’ Deb Talan— was just as clear as on her records. We also stuck around to watch the former teen heartthrob Teddy Geiger* sound check. (*We heard he has maybe progressed beyond his initial 2006 hit “For You I Will (Confidence)”, but we refuse to believe it.)
Max: After the hilarity that was Teddy Geiger, I did my best to remind Kendall of that terrible movie Geiger was in with Rainn Wilson, where Rainn Wilson is a weird, sad drummer and Emma Stone is the bassist/love interest. Love interest to Geiger’s character, not Rainn Wilson’s. Remember that one? No?
Anyway, I digress. Our next stop of the evening was the Bowery Ballroom, where indie legends The Mountain Goats were headlining.
Kendall: Matthew E. White and his numerous band members took to the stage of the Bowery Ballroom swiftly. Then, in the darkness, “Is this a joke?”
Many of their instruments had been unplugged. A stagehand waded into the chaos and fixed the problem.
Max: Music soon wafted from the stage. White and his band were expert in emulating a Graceland-era Paul Simon sound. Lots of horns, a funky bass, heavy drumming, and an auxiliary percussionist pushed White’s music away from the singer-songwriter realm and warmed up the growing crowd.
Kendall: Although initially there was a small, but devoted group of fans for White, the venue was packed primarily for John Darnielle’s Mountain Goats. Yet, by the end of Matthew E. White’s set, the crowd was dancing energetically to the syncopated beats of White’s nearly Carribbean-sounding music.
The Mountain Goats made sure to sustain that energy. John Darnielle skipped and hopped across the stage while playing his nasally folk tunes. Screams of joy from devoted fans crowding the stage greeted song after song.
Kendall: Requests were shouted, yet, with Darnielle’s expansive back-catalogue of songs, not all were met. (Including my own appeal for “Going To Georgia.”)
Max: Darnielle did, however, make sure to end the night with fan favorite “This Year,” encouraging the ravenous crowd to sing along.