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Exploring Music and the City: CMJ Music Marathon

Published on
October 18

I’m not much of a music buff. I’m the kind of music listener who finds a few songs I really like and listens the living daylights out of them until I find new material while stalking my friends’ Spotify playlists. But when I received the opportunity to go to CMJ Music Marathon, a music festival that happens around New York City, I took it despite not knowing 99% of the artists on the line-up. To be honest, I did not even know what the event was.

CMJ puts on a 5-day music marathon right in the 5 boroughs that showcases up and coming bands, hosts panels about different aspects of the music industry, and offers opportunities to network with other artists, producers, and record labels.  I could not believe that despite being a native New Yorker, I was unfamiliar with this event. Thus, with my all-access pass, I attended a performance held by Weekend, a lo-fi syth-rock band from California. I also sat in on a panel that focused on the Taiwanese music industry and how American artists should see Taiwan as the gateway to breaking into other Asian markets. It was a fascinating panel of hip-hop artists, DJs, and producers who strongly supported this cross-cultural fusion of music and saw great potential in future collaborations across borders.

Being a full-time Columbia undergraduate in the midst of midterm season is unfortunately not extremely conducive to concert hopping. Even so, I managed to attend these events as a nice study break. All the events are held at various venues around the city from smaller, low-key spaces to more renowned ones such as Bowery Ballroom and Gramercy Theatre. CMJ also supports college radio stations and college bands. CMJ Music Marathon is definitely a great way for artists to gain exposure. It is also a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in working in the music industry, whether that be on the business side to producing, to learn a great deal and network with significant people in the field. For those like me who appreciate music, the event is a way to explore New York City through music and discover new bands. The event features genres such as rock, hip-hop, rap, DJ turntablism, punk, and alternative. They also hold concerts featuring solely Taiwanese artist or all-female artist concerts. So if you’re a classical music connoisseur, this may not be your cup of tea but for anyone interested in finding some new music, exploring New York City, or expanding one’s knowledge of the music industry, CMJ Music Marathon is definitely worth attending. You never know, you might just stumble across an artist who will top the charts in years to come.