CMJ 2012 Conference Highlights

Sure bushels of showcases chock full of emerging artists garner the most press coverage at CMJ, but let's not forget the real bread and butter of the conference: panels. I track new releases every week, and most of the artists that play CMJ will come through LA in the next six months. Plus, if I see them for fun at a venue here I won't have to deal with packed crowds, and juggling singing along with networking. However, it will be awhile before I get another chance to watch top industry professionals debate the finer points of this fast-paced, dynamic, competitive music business.

I went to as many panels, round tables, and career counseling sessions as I could at CMJ this year, plus the entirety of the college day conference. It took up the majority of 4 days straight: conference all day, music all night. No sleep 'till Brooklyn after a red-eye Monday night. However, lucky for you, dear readers, if you missed CMJ and actually got a healthy amount of sleep the other week. here are my personal notes from the top 5 conference highlights of CMJ 2012. Read, enjoy, and get educated, my fellow music business fiends.

A Day In The Life Of A Sucessful Career DJ
Roi Hernandez, Head of Creative Services & Electronic A&R, A&M/Octone
Jamieson Hill, CEO/DJ, A Jamieson Hill Experience
Mia Moretti, DJ
Rob Principe, Co-Founder & CEO, Scratch Music Group
William Tramontozzi aka DJ JS-1, Owner/Artist, Ground Original

  • Social media is important but doesn’t replace being there in person, persistently networking
  • Even when you’re not playing, you need to be there meeting people
  • “Anyone who controls the music is a DJ.” – Scratch Music Academy
  • Do you take people on a journey?
  • Pop songs as a tool for DJs to get the audience to a specific place, and then throw in something unusual
  • DJing with live musicians
  • DJs are meant to interpret music, and be a filter to present sounds to the average listener
  • Good lighting show?
  • Production/DJ overlap, contention?, both deliver a performance, all just pressing buttons?
  • Thinking of DJing as a spectrum, many kinds of DJs, but all on the same spectrum
  • Turntables as an instrument, DJing as an art form and science
  • DJ magic, feeling the audience: spontaneity
  • Pressure to produce? Related to career growth and the ability to draw hard ticket sells
  • Remixes can launch DJs, build confidence, differentiator, changes perception: viewed more as an artist
  • Genre agnostic: ears inclusive & style exclusive
  • The remix is the new mixtape?
  • Listening to the latest blogged singles rather than full albums distributed in advance
  • College radio is about expressing yourself
  • DJ management companies
  • Art of the DJ ninja, sample a few seconds at 3 points in the song to listen and sift through quickly
  • Build your library carefully and own it, get the most out of it, enjoy the nostalgia of music discovery in your life

College Radio Round Tables [That Are Square]
David DeKeyser, Director of Radio Promotion, Mute
Susie Kuo, Station Manager, KSSU Radio
Caroline Shadood, Radio Promoter, Distiller Promo
Jerry Steller, Owner/President, Vitriol Radio Promotion
  • Never think your station is too small, you can be a valuable resource to your community
  • Owning online radio, no FCC guidelines, but not entirely freeform, cultivate a sound that listeners can expect no matter when they tune in
  • Online-only can still be local, the community you connect to
  • If you don’t have a local base, it doesn’t matter if someone in Switzerland is listening to you
  • Don’t ever feel like you can’t ask for something from a band/label
  • Leverage “Presents”: booth at show in exchange for promo and ticket giveaways
  • People expect more from the website of an online station
  • In promo exchanges, list the monetary value of gifts and services
  • Any way you can be a physical presence matter, make yourself visible
  • Set clear rules from the beginning, make people earn it, and the right people will step up
  • You want people to listen to your station, automation in line with station identity may be better than a DJ that has a sound completely out of line with your station’s sound
  • The alumni and local community problem, can deteriorate student community at the station, keep students as a priority, alumni fill in on breaks?
  • Balance: let people have fun, train them for the industry (just in case), and produce a consistent sound worth listening too
  • Staff positions at the station documented in living guide book!!! SO IMPORTANT
  • Stay organized, position contracts, documents & spreadsheets, create structure
  • Ask professors for permission to speak to their classes about getting involved in the station
  • Getting broadcasted on campus in student spaces
  • Network with local bands, and get them to promote your station back, promo as reciprocal
  • Is there a niche in your music dial that your station can fill?
  • Social media quotas (20 tweets a day), live blogging events like CMJ, stations experiencing more success with Instagram

Dumb Band, Smart Phone
Michael Schneider, Artist Relations, BandPage
Tom Constabile, Associate Director, New Business Ventures, Verizon
Jonathan Dworking, Global Head of Strategy & Business Affairs, Nokia
Julien Mitelberg, Co-Founder & COO, Cellfish, CEO Bandsintown
Matt Urmy, Co-Founder & CEO, Artist Growth

  • Your phone is incredibly personal, but the context of the device is always changing (the place it is used)
  • Promoting discovery, translating to commerce
  • Leverage devices as a tool to grow audience, people spend much more time with their phone than their computer
  • People are eager to personalize their phone
  • Mobile apps can be about taking care of the people who are already interested in you
  • 3rd party apps encourage discovery
  • Using mobile to research consumers, understand who your audience is
  • A 3rd of your audience is mobile, and growing
  • Make your website either a product or a platform
  • Design your website to be scaleable across platforms
  • Leveraging other sources (like 3rd party) to grow audience
  • Living exclusively on Facebook or previously Myspace can be problematic
  • Who owns your fans?
  • Impact where you can impact, and if you can’t, leverage other sources scale
  • Innovation happens in the competition between operating systems, and between networks
  • Human curation vs. algorithms
  • Pull vs. push
  • Diminishing returns on big data, just becomes an echo chamber, hard to get randomness and surprise
  • Radio is intensely local, not captured by algorithms
  • What is my product as an app or site? What’s the worth or value?

Fan-durance: Sourcing Funding From Fandom
Gustavo Rodriguez, Director of Creative Development, Rockethub
Karen Bair, Head Of Music, Indiegogo
Scott Englund, Head of Client Services, FanBridge
Kendel Ratley, Director, Marketing & Outreach, Kickstarter
Benji Rogers, CEO/Founder, PledgeMusic
Jason Walsmith, Founder & Singer-Songwriter, The Nadas

  • Controlling your future
  • A successful crowd funding campaign builds confidence and moves things forward
  • Average successful Kickstarter campaign: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Use video and rewards to explore who you are through fan interaction
  • Up sell on reward packages, bonuses with personality and surprise elements
  • 5 to 7 rewards over 30 days (Kickstarter recommendations)
  • Talk about it honestly, and tell a good story
  • The myth of viral: things go viral on their own
  • Do you have ways of communicating with your fans? Email, twitter, facebook?
  • Stay organized: plan the campaign, CALENDAR
  • Make sure all your digital assists are mentioning the campaign, clear links to send money
  • Leverage active and dynamic nature of crowd funding
  • Real time feedback, test concepts, get data
  • Don’t bombard, but stay connected
  • Don’t ask for help or money. Ask for participation and collaboration.
  • Give it time. Don’t stop. It’s a journey that you work on every day.
  • Share videos, higher follow through rate than a link
  • Sharing is easier than donating, sharing helps and thank them
  • THANK, always thank people directly
  • Twitter and Facebook is less effective than email, which is less distracted
  • Social media for sharing
  • Email for messaging and communication, calls to action
  • Direct to fan not direct to customer
  • If you’ve taken in money, you have to send out what you promised
  • Kickstarter campaigns don’t compete with each other, they spread behavior through a community
  • Fans just want something to do. They’ll always wanted something to do, and to be a part of things. Now we can reach them around the world.

College Day: It Takes A Village
Carrie Brother, Data Manager, CMJ
Thor Slaughter, Music Director, KWVA
Manu Taylor, Station Manager, 95bFM
Chelsea Upton, Music Director, Radio UTD
  • Give back to your school, let them know that you’re worthwhile
  • The community only embraces what makes them stronger, show how it helps them
  • Create a sense of belonging, if you want to keep on existing, a sense of identity
  • Balancing coolness with populism, take the lead
  • DJ school events, even if they’re not the trendiest, be the connector
  • When we knock on doors, it’s to share not sell
  • Reliable on being visible, rely on being weird, people are tired of the same old and being marketed to
  • Look for channels to do what we do, and look for channels to make money
  • Be approachable, be nice, we’re not really the cool kids
  • Be involved on campus, if you’re a stand-off radio station, there’s no point in being on campus
  • Work with artists, to develop their career
  • Trust the listeners, give them a chance, let them give you direction
  • There’s something to be said about access for students, empowering them to make things happen
  • Have a strong, personal relationship with the people who fund you
  • Person by person, room by room, make people listen
  • Accessibility is important
  • Everyone gets into college radio for different reasons, find out why and what their needs are
  • Hype other people’s shows
  • You control access to your station: the culture, the market, the cool
  • Work with clubs, find out what people are doing, and put stuff on their speakers