The CMJ Music Marathon, which takes place in NYC in October, may be rethinking their decision to use online submission site Sonicbids to do handle their band applications. To submit, a band had to pay a nonrefundable fee of $45. A major screwup by the site may just have shed some light on one of the organizations dirty little secrets.
Today, an email went out to a large number of bands telling them they were on "Standby" status, and to email the CMJ showcase director to let them know which days they might be able to play. About an hour later, the same bands received an email from CMJ Showcase Coordinator Robyn Baskin saying the following:
"There is a bug in Sonicbids system and the wrong email was sent out to many people. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. This is the email that you should have received:
It is with regret that we inform you we are unable to find a slot for you to perform at CMJ Music Marathon 2007.
Please realize that you made it through a number of rounds in the selection process and the music that you are making caught our attention for one reason or another. Unfortunately, the sheer number of applicants in relation to the number of clubs in NY makes it impossible for us to give every deserving band a slot at the festival, and while it may not be much consolation, we did try our best to accommodate as many acts as possible, including yours."
Fair enough. Standard rejection letter. However, Baskin made the regrettable error of listing the email addresses of all 675 bands that got the email, rather than putting them as blind carbon copy. Within minutes, the predictable and pathetic self promotional spam started coming in, from bands who apparently decided that other CMJ-denied bands are a good target market. But then it got interesting.
One emailer noted, in a less-than-friendly email to Baskin, that "Apart from the fact that we are now open to a bunch of spam, it has also brought to my attention that sonic bids has collected the $45 fee from at least 670 bands ($30,450) knowing full well that you could never accommodate all of the bands." Soon the folks at Shiny Little Records pointed out a little known statistic that comes with every Sonicbids account.
Soon it became apparent that there were a large number of bands who hadn't had their music even listened to. Now hey, anyone who doesn't know that Sonicbids is a sham hasn't been around the business very long, but it's a different story when you are forced to use the site to submit for a major industry festival. At $45 per band, it's hardly just a "cover our administrative costs" fee. It's a profit center, and as such, they owe proper consideration to every band who throws down the money, and at the minimum, three minutes to listen to the song they submitted.
UPDATE 2: Click here for the response from Panos Panay, CEO of Sonicbids
UPDATE: CMJ's Matt McDonald, who heads the staff who review the sumbmissions, has emailed regarding the issue. Click the "Continue Reading" link below to view the full comment.