Festivals First Person

CMJ Lessons Learned

Now that CMJ is officially over I can rest a little bit easier and not plan my entire day around trying to show up to work and be productive all while scheduling in various interviews, panels and concerts. But, let’s be honest I’d much rather have my day job be an ongoing music festival . . . how can I go about finding that job? Hmmm . . . time to do some serious research.

I put together a brief outline of things I’ve learned this week for my amusement on my commute throughout the week. Be sure to keep checking out the CMJ blog, as I’ve been compiling all my reviews and interviews and much more should be posted this week!

Top 5 CMJ Lessons:

1. Don’t assume that just because three fellow CMJ badge holders are on the same subway as you that you’re going to the same place.
I know, stupid right? But it was my first time covering CMJ and I didn’t realize just how huge CMJ was. So, when I saw three guys from a college radio station with their CMJ badges and welcome bags, I assumed we were all going to the same meet and greet and asked if I could tag along. Little did I know until we got off the subway stop at Delancey that we were going to two entirely different places. Not a huge deal, just jumped back on the subway and got off the stop I was supposed to get off at originally.

2. People like to talk, whether it be a band, a cab driver or managers.
This seems obvious. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. I pride myself in being a good listener, and being a journalist this often comes in handy. One of my professors used to always say, “Don’t be afraid of silence.” Sometimes during an interview, if you pause for a bit after the interviewee answers a question he will continue his thought or will bring you to an entirely different direction that you never considered. This is often the best part of an interview and you’ll find out something you never thought to ask. It’s so easy to go through the motions during an interview by asking the same questions over and over again. But, every so often you’ll make a connection and the interviewee will bring out an insecurity they may have that lets you get to know him a little better and see where he’s coming from. This is priceless.

3. You can sleep when you’re dead.
This has often been my catch phrase throughout college when roommates wondered if and when I ever slept. Sleep is important of course, but not always realistic when covering a festival like CMJ. Some drink coffee or Redbull to keep them awake, I haven’t found the best caffeine fix for myself yet, still working on that.

4. Make sure you’re allowed to video tape at a venue BEFORE you get there.
I had no clue that some venues make you sign wavers or release forms to film. They basically want to make sure you’re not selling your interview or sound check footage and making money off it. I never thought of even looking into this before an interview since for the most part I do audio interviews. You have to learn the hard way sometimes. Now I know for next time.

5. Go with the flow.
There is absolutely no way you can possibly see every band you want at a festival like CMJ. By leaving room for the unexpected you may get lucky and discover the next great band at a showcase when you originally only planned on seeing the first band. Who knows, lightning could strike.

Be sure to check back on the blog throughout the week for show reviews and interviews. You can check out my video interview and sound check with Matt Duke below! Special thanks to John Hendrickson for filming and editing this for the UWire CMJ blog.