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j h

hey

we too recieved the bulk email from sonicbids. i don't fault whoever sent the email for that, as i have accidentally done the same thing when i have forgotten to hit bcc (more annoying than anything are all the musicians sending us their myspace url now....jesus)...we all make a mistake llike that

but here is the deal: if sonicbids didn't listen to your tracks, that is a load of shit, totally unfair. why should anyone pay $45, a submission fee, to not even have their music assessed? if that is the case, they need to refund the money. if you are mad enough about it, you can get a lawyer to file a class action.

but, i don't think sonicbids is complete drivel. it has worked for us. we actually got a spot on one of the cmj new music monthly sampler cds that goes out to college radio stations, industry people and subscribers all across the world. we did that by entering the cmj/sonicbids contest a few months ago, which we won a week to be featured on both sites, then, we also won the enitre month, so, we earned a spot on the cd. that is a $3000 value. i don't remember how much it cost to enter, like $10.

overall i'd say we have dropped about $250 into promo via sonicbids. given the numbers, i am happy with the return.

they also contacted us directly to license songs to tabacco companies overseas and offered us $250 a track. royalties and free promotion would be a factor too. but we said no to that.

so, the point is, sonicbids does work in some cases.

but, i don't like spending $45 bucks on a contest i potentially wasn't even assessed upon paying a fee.

that pisses me off.

its like buying a lottery ticket and then they said 'oh, well we just happened to take the balls with your numbers on them out of the machine before doing the drawing'. what sort of a chance is that?

that isn't fair.


-j


brendan

our band was one of the unlucky. its been a clusterfuck. i always thought CMJ/Sonicbids was a scam, but now there's no doubt. disaster. i feel a fool for ever wasting the time and money on their industry schmooze-fest.

jdlv

The thing I'm worried about is that no one reacted right away and noticed the mistake. I can't imagine coming into work tomorrow morning and reading all of the complaints.

Luna Beans

CMJ is a sham. Sonic bids is worse. The only way to get on a CMJ showcase is through a manager, PR comapany, or label. I know this for a fact because the last few years my band applied to CMJ, got denied, and then played CMJ after our manager and label were approached asking us to do a show (three years in a row!). They pretty much have their entire line-up picked out before they start accepting submissions. They listen to nothing and then start calling their industry friends for suggestions to fill in the holes. This is why my band, though first rejected, got a prime slot after the word got out that we were a buzz band. It's an old joke now in NYC...why bother applying? Either you have a connection or you don't. Either way, applying is a waste of time and money.

I can't believe it has taken this long for the cat to come out of the bag! No one of any artistic merit gives a shit about CMJ, especially bands from NY. Sure, if you get offered a show you do it, but it's certainly not held in high regard. CMJ used to be cool...as soon as you had to apply through Sonic Bids it became a total farce.

And, dear lord, if I get another freaking email from Sonic Bids asking me to apply to be on some shitty sampler I will just...

Robyn Baskin is going to be fired, I can assure you of that. What a seriously unprofessional, devastating move on behalf of her company.

Don't waste your money, kids. That's all they want from you, MONEY! Most of the "contests" Sonic Bids put on are rigged. Sad, but true.

Buy some Fugazi records and learn from the masters of the DIY ethic. No one is gonna help you.

Bruce Houghton

It would seem to me that the real evil doer here is CMJ. Sonicbids is just a go between delivering the info electronically rather than via the post office. Its up to CMJ to listen.

brainheadman

The problem is whether Sonicbids applicants were treated with the same scrutiny and on the same rubric as the other applicants. And were there other applicants? The consensus on this blog is that no, we were not given a fair shot (in some cases not even listened to) but I'm still curious as to whether there is an alternative means of applying to CMJ outside of sonicbids. Again, people on this blog seem to think that we were "forced" to apply through sonicbids. Is this really the case? And if not, what was the fee applied to other applicants who applied for instance, by mail. This arises the question of whether this group of applicants was not only charged a sum of $45 that others weren't but ALSO were not given a fair review, which in my mind has got to be some kind of crime. However the case may be that like Harvard in the fall, CMJ is just swamped with applications of all kinds and 99.9% of them end up in the trash, analogous to a submission of anything below a 1550 on the SAT. My gut feeling is that, yes we have been screwed, and if so I would fault Sonicbids, not CMJ, because they are the ones charging the money that is supposed to guarantee us a service in exchange. They make the promise that we will be assessed by CMJ through them, and they took our money, but in some cases, failed to deliver. However, there is nothing on the email that was sent to us that indicates all of the applicants rejected WERE APPLYING THROUGH SONICBIDS. That is an assumption that some of us have made.

Ghost Media

Sonicbids is the only way to apply for CMJ. However, as most people know, it isn't the only way to get in to CMJ. A large number of bands are admitted via their connections (management, label, etc), but you can't formally "apply" this way. If you are admitted that way you are still made to pay the application fee.

To my eye, the only way Sonicbids screwed up is by sending out the email with all recipients listed. They are nothing more than a contractor who puts two parties, in this case the band and CMJ, together. CMJ chooses the price and terms.

Obviously every band on earth applies and CMJ is swamped with applications. Not listening to every band is as understandable as it is expected. However, when CMJ decides to charge $45 and profit from the situation, I think there is a reasonable expectation that you get at least a cursory listen.

To make this more fair going forward I think CMJ should be forthright about the number of applicants that actually come from the pool of bands who apply blindly i.e. with no connections. If there are roughly 1000 spots, how many are realistically up for grabs? CMJ shouldn't profit on the unreal expectations of smaller, less connected bands. Given the proper information, most bands would probably save their $45, rather than line the pockets of an organization which most likely never even looks at their application.

brainheadman

Thanks Ghost Media, but you point out a crucial difference here: The people that get into CMJ through their "connections" are not really paying an application fee. If what you say is true, they are paying something more akin to an enrollment fee after they have already secured a spot on the roster. There would be no outcry right now if the initial application had been free, and I'm sure bands would gladly pay the $45 dollars after being accepted w/out batting an eye. If the process had been conducted in this way it would have been a fair playing field. It can be construed that soinicbids applicants payed a very different fee than other "applicants." Finally, if there are 1000 bands admitted, isn't the $45,000 CMJ collects enough? do they really need to the additional massive sum of all the rejects' application fees?

spitfire

Just sharing one of the things we *can* do to start to take a little power back ... we just decided to cancel our Sonicbids account and here's the letter we sent in:

In lieu of the recent light that the CMJ error has shed on Sonicbids.com along with our other many similarly costly and disappointing experiences with Sonicbids (including the startling realization that those we submit to are not even listening to our music, let alone visiting our profile) ...

We would like to ask you to cancel our account, effective immediately. If the company decides to make right on some of this dishonest behaviour, we - as struggling musicians - would most certainly appreciate refunds on the submissions we have made that didn't so much as solicit a profile view on our sonicbids account.

AB

My unknown, unsigned, unwritten-about band applied through Sonicbids, and were sent the Standby Email. WE then (3 weeks later) got a very complimentary, personalized email saying that we had been accepted and put on a bill with a GREAT time and location.

I made a point to mail my application with printed materials, as I ALWAYS feel that even in today's electronic age, having something tangible that takes up space on your desk makes more of an impression than an email with a link. in fact, we don't even have an EPK, or whatever it's called. With CMJ you had the option of summiting electronically or by mail, which is not always one that is given.

For us, $45 was a small price to play for the slot we got. We all paid $30-50-75 with every college application we sent, and we know the colleges couldn't take everyone. You don't HAVE to apply.

My main gripe, however, the sheer number of SonicBids related emails that I have received since signing up is ASTOUNDING! I may as well have just signed my name to a vi7agaXra email list.

It's annoying that Robyn sent out that email to everyone, but i agree - we all screw up. Taking advantage of that mistake by taking those emails without authorization, now, that's deliberate and no good - shame on you, bands!

anonymouse

i'm not trying to take cmj/sonicbids side but...if you really ever thought that it was a 'level' playing field, you were just fooling yourself.

and i do think there should be SOME submission fee for something like this. why? some one does have to wade through all the submissions. it really is a damn shame if they never even looked at some people, but realistically, it's likely some intern wading through that first level.

brainheadman

I agree that the biggest disappointment of all is the idiots who are using that email list as a podium to promote their personal agenda. And I agree that its hardly surprising that when 1000s submit to highly competitive and revered music festival, 1000s are rejected, and that there is nothing "fair" about the way people are selected. I just wonder about what obligation Sonicbids/CMJ has, if any, to people that payed $45 and didn't even get their song listened to...

j h

of the 10 emails i got saying 'hey check out our band' i did not check out one.


could've been the next fugazi for all i know, but it is etiquette if you have been on the internet for more than 2 weeks not to do that.

man i hate unsolicited self promotion. get a clue! you put yourself in a worst position than if someone had never heard of you in the first place.

j

dj.sae.one

We were CHARTING on the CMJ charts at the time and were not selected. The $45 is a scam, Sonicbids is a scam, and I have repeatedly asked them to stop sending me emails after I pulled my profile, and still get at least 3 or 4 every day. Screw them all.

guy

well....


i hate to point this out......but cmj is a damn huge festival in what is arguably the most important city on the planet


it represents the cream of the crop of indie musicians and other slots for up and comers...


just because you are 'charting' on cmj doesnt guarantee you a spot.

there are approx 200 chart slots during any given 2 week period. multiply that by 27, and that is roughly 5400 slots. granted, bands occupy these slots for more than one 2 week period.

the point being, there are many more bands trying to get into this festival than there are slots.

someone pointed out that we can not uniformly address all the bands on the list's situation with why they may not have been listened to.

totally true, and yet, there is no clause in the submission that says 'hey, artists, if your epk looks like a cat just puked it up and your making music scratching a rake on pavement, you should just consider your $45 gone'

i guess the main point of contention is this: what does your $45 fee entail?

perhaps they should describe that in more detail. tell us how many slots there are. tell us how many sonicbids artists were chosen last year. tell us how many you intend to choose this year.


probably everyone in this list spent a good deal of time getting their music ready. when the 'standby' status is shown on sonicbids, your heart gets going a little. 'wow, we might be able to play this cool event in nyc! we live in omaha and have never been there!'

if they actually were trying to find a spot for these bands, then the 'standby' is warranted.

if they just send that 'standby' out to everyone who applied and have no intention of trying to place the band (given they never even heard their song?!) then that is bullshit.

would you want to ask someone to a dance and have them say 'oh, i might go with you.' then have them lead you on while they in fact had another date all along?


bollocks...

guy

well....


i hate to point this out......but cmj is a damn huge festival in what is arguably the most important city on the planet


it represents the cream of the crop of indie musicians and other slots for up and comers...


just because you are 'charting' on cmj doesnt guarantee you a spot.

there are approx 200 chart slots during any given 2 week period. multiply that by 27, and that is roughly 5400 slots. granted, bands occupy these slots for more than one 2 week period.

the point being, there are many more bands trying to get into this festival than there are slots.

someone pointed out that we can not uniformly address all the bands on the list's situation with why they may not have been listened to.

totally true, and yet, there is no clause in the submission that says 'hey, artists, if your epk looks like a cat just puked it up and your making music scratching a rake on pavement, you should just consider your $45 gone'

i guess the main point of contention is this: what does your $45 fee entail?

perhaps they should describe that in more detail. tell us how many slots there are. tell us how many sonicbids artists were chosen last year. tell us how many you intend to choose this year.


probably everyone in this list spent a good deal of time getting their music ready. when the 'standby' status is shown on sonicbids, your heart gets going a little. 'wow, we might be able to play this cool event in nyc! we live in omaha and have never been there!'

if they actually were trying to find a spot for these bands, then the 'standby' is warranted.

if they just send that 'standby' out to everyone who applied and have no intention of trying to place the band (given they never even heard their song?!) then that is bullshit.

would you want to ask someone to a dance and have them say 'oh, i might go with you.' then have them lead you on while they in fact had another date all along?


bollocks...

Several commenters (and the original poster) have written a few things that need to be addressed as incorrect.

Just to clarify, it was CMJ that sent the email to us artists, NOT Sonicbids. It is CMJ that is contractually obligated to review all submissions, NOT Sonicbids. Sonicbids is simply the submission platform. That is it! CMJ, just like each and every promoter on the site, signs an agreement with Sonicbids promising to review each and every submission before they have their listing placed on the site.

Promoters are shutdown on the site if it is discovered that they are not reviewing bands. Please consider that if you sent a paper press kit, and never heard from the promoter, you would not be demanding your postage fee from USPS. You would understand that it was the promoter. IT'S THE SAME THING. GET IT?

"CMJ shouldn't profit on the unreal expectations of smaller, less connected bands." You're right. Realize that these bands stand no chance of being selected, and it would be the same with or without Sonicbids. It's the band's own fault for tossing away their own $45 while willingly submitting themselves for consideration.

Also, if you're getting emails from Sonicbids and you don't want to, you can change this in your Sonicbids profile. It's a check box.


Several commenters (and the original poster) have written a few things that need to be addressed as incorrect.

Just to clarify, it was CMJ that sent the email to us artists, NOT Sonicbids. It is CMJ that is contractually obligated to review all submissions, NOT Sonicbids. Sonicbids is simply the submission platform. That is it! CMJ, just like each and every promoter on the site, signs an agreement with Sonicbids promising to review each and every submission before they have their listing placed on the site.

Promoters are shutdown on the site if it is discovered that they are not reviewing bands. Please consider that if you sent a paper press kit, and never heard from the promoter, you would not be demanding your postage fee from USPS. You would understand that it was the promoter. IT'S THE SAME THING. GET IT?

"CMJ shouldn't profit on the unreal expectations of smaller, less connected bands." You're right. Realize that these bands stand no chance of being selected, and it would be the same with or without Sonicbids. It's the band's own fault for tossing away their own $45 while willingly submitting themselves for consideration.

Also, if you're getting emails from Sonicbids and you don't want to, you can change this in your Sonicbids profile. It's a check box.


Maizie

In answer to the question about how many artists CMJ selected through Sonicbids last year:

http://www.sonicbids.com/ItWorks/event_view.asp?event_id=503

Also, CMJ's official response to all this can be viewed here:

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2007/09/cmj_responds_we.html

Ghost Media

While I agree the bulk of the fault lies with CMJ and not Sonicbids, that list of bands that were "selected through Sonicbids" posted by Maizie needs a little clarification. I know of many bands that got into CMJ via connections, that were then asked to submit through the official channel of sonicbids. So while technically all of those bands submitted on sonicbids, it's likely that only a small percentage used it to actually get accepted.

What's needed here is a bit of full disclosure from CMJ about the process. How many showcases are sponsored or booked by non-CMJ people? What can you expect for your $45? If the official submissions are all fighting over 200 spots, I think it's reasonable to expect that they let the paying customers know that in advance so that they might make an educated decision.

I agree with Ghost Media. A lot of the bands on that SonicBids list are on pretty big labels so they most likely weren't dying to find out if they made it in or not.

dudeman

the whole college radio market is a joke, and has been for some time. if you're spending money get adds or to be charted at college radio, especially in this era of blogs, mp3s and web 2.0, you are totally wasting your money.

in fact, if you become "big at college radio" you are forever a college rock band, and will never crack the mainstream. see built to spill, yo la tengo, sonic youth, modest mouse etc. etc.. great bands forever and ever confined to being "college rock".

such a shame.

Will Simmons

This whole Sonicbids thing is just one of the many, many flaws of the whole CMJ Marathon experience. If you want to go to the Marathon just to see a bunch of shows, PLEASE don't pay for a CMJ badge. You'll be able to pay your way into the vast majority of the shows you want to see. These CMJ-sponsored events go on all over Manhattan, and hardly any of them are badge-exclusive. The venues are supposed to reserve first entry of these events to badge holders. Some of them don't even do that. And you can bet that if a venue starts to fill up, you will be denied entry with or without a badge.

The only semi-sensible reason to buy a CMJ pass would be to go to the panels, but you will still be getting less than you really pay for. Unfortunately, most people buy the badge as a fashion accessory, and CMJ banks hard off it.

Meh

Maybe it's just a bug in the Sonicbids system, but I went to that page to check out the bands, and most of them have their accounts deactivated. Plus, when you search for those bands on Sonicbids, they don't show up. Aaaand, Brandtson is on there, and their EPK has no information on it at all. LAME!!!!

Will Simmons

This whole Sonicbids thing is just one of the many, many flaws of the whole CMJ Marathon experience. If you want to go to the Marathon just to see a bunch of shows, PLEASE don't pay for a CMJ badge. You'll be able to pay your way into the vast majority of the shows you want to see. These CMJ-sponsored events go on all over Manhattan, and hardly any of them are badge-exclusive. The venues are supposed to reserve first entry of these events to badge holders. Some of them don't even do that. And you can bet that if a venue starts to fill up, you will be denied entry with or without a badge.

The only semi-sensible reason to buy a CMJ pass would be to go to the panels, but you will still be getting less than you really pay for. Unfortunately, most people buy the badge as a fashion accessory, and CMJ banks hard off it.

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