Times Critics Not Crazy About CMJ Sponsorship Efforts

As the CMJ Music Marathon fills more than 50 venues across the city with shows from about 1,000 bands this week, The New York Times' music critics are blogging about the shows—and the sponsors.

“Branding is everywhere, from the banners above the stage to the projections on the wall to, of course, the bars serving free drinks,” writes Ben Sisario. “That works out well for the drinkers as well as the sponsors, who covet the young-tastemaker demographic.” But that doesn't mean he thinks it's effective.

“After a while, though, all the logos become a blur,” Sisario continues. “On Thursday afternoon, as the Canadian dance-rock trio We Are Wolves yelped in high-register, high-anxiety unison at a party for The Fader magazine in a Lower East Side storefront, the symbol of AT&T, the party’s overall sponsor, was projected on one wall. On the ceiling were notices from the afternoon’s alcohol providers, Southern Comfort (“SoCo”) and Budweiser. Another showcase was fueled by Peroni, the Italian beer. One later tonight carries the mark of Skyy vodka. And the series of afternoon events presented by the blog Brooklyn Vegan was sponsored by … I can’t remember.”

Meanwhile, Kelefa Sanneh likes the popular downtown music venue Bowery Ballroom but says, “it was more than a little disconcerting to see that the basement was glowing blue on Wednesday night: an eye-assaulting ad for a product called Sine, or Sync, or Psych, or something. Exhaustive research (conducted during a brisk walk to and from the bathroom) reveals that it has something to do with Microsoft and cars. No doubt some corporate check was cut, and someone appreciates it. But concertgoers might feel even more pleasantly inclined toward this new gadget—or operating system, or sedan, or whatever—if the promotional budget had been spent, instead, on plastic cups. Not empty ones, either.”

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