Easy Apple: CMJ Recap Days Three and Four

TVD Contributor Ariane Trahan is the founder of Easy Apple, an artist development company that bridges the gap for musicians between New York City and New Orleans. 

After traveling 1,300 miles, along with a packed schedule the first two days, getting to a morning panel was rough. In comes “Next Generation of A&R Executives.” Like a lot of panels I went to, the room was flooded with young sponges, every seat filled. People lined up against the wall, sitting on the floor with their notebooks and ipads.

Moderated by Fuse TV’s Allison Hagendorf, the truth was unveiled for all A&R hopefuls: if you want to get a job as a rep for a label, start your own label. Though the objective of Artist & Repertoire remains the same, the process of how a rep does her job and the role the artist plays in securing a rep have come a long way.

“A&R Philosophy,” a panel containing long-time reps from Warner, Atlantic, Columbia, and Road Runner, along with indie label Electrofone, was held soon after, allowing a complete picture of today’s A&R. The most important points the panelists wanted to leave with the audience were ones that ring true in all facets of the music industry (but were appreciated nonetheless): be nice to everyone, learn everything you can, and create a buzz on your own first.

CMJ Highlight: hosted by Cantora Labs and smartwater, the number one artist in Australia right now, Gotye, performed in a spectacular setting atop the Thompkins Hotel. You can’t beat a backdrop of beautiful blue skies, floor to ceiling windows, and an Absolut open bar on a rooftop in the middle of the day. With dual drums, keyboards, samplers, bass, and finger snapping—attendees were able to truly appreciate all of what goes into a Gotye song.

During a technical issue, Gotye had the audience sing all the backing vocals for “Hearts a Mess” to close the tune. The live version of “State of the Art,” a song not only explaining how he would use a vintage organ his parents bought for $100, but one created on the instrument itself, was precisely how it sounds on his record Making Mirrors, despite having his live setup stripped down from ten musicians to four.

Thursday night was also the NYC premier of New Orleans’ newcomers, Royal Teeth. They played at Arlene’s Grocery for a BMI showcase. All the bells and whistles were brought out, with the stand-alone floor tom out in the audience and confetti guns during their set. New York really took a liking to them, particularly singer Nora’s glittery black shorts. I was proud to be in the audience to support them.

I ended the evening at 2am at the Glassnote Records afterparty. Pretentious fashion, remixes of indie artists, $12 well drinks, and Daniel Glass talking to the DJ. Awesome.

Friday was my winding down day at CMJ. I met for breakfast with an old friend turned iTunes label rep, followed by an awesome “coffee talk” with Zack Diaz, manager for Aunt Martha. We both agree that performing is the most important money-maker that venues, promoters, and indie artists have left.

Diaz: “People don’t buy music anymore. I think it’s bad for artists, but not necessarily in the long run. It’s also forcing a change in music consumption that will ultimately end up being better. I think when you rip down the barrier of people having to buy something, you open up the floodgate of people listening to music in an interactive manner. The whole model is flipped upside down, and no one knows what the hell they’re doing anymore.”

I got to meet several college radio Music Directors in the middle of the daily chaos, had a wonderful dinner with Sean Carolan of Altrok, who’s been in radio since the ’80s, and guess where I ended my 2011 CMJ Music Marathon?

At Santos Party House for the Neon Gold showcase featuring a shockingly tasty band called Walk The Moon. Coming in from Cincinnati and RCA Records, Walk The Moon had most of the audience singing along in their signature face paint. Who are these dudes? Here’s their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”:

The last show I saw at CMJ closed the Neon Gold showcase. I had to see it a second time: Gotye.

The reason I first fell in love:

Gotye Photo Credit: Loren Wohl, Time Out NY

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