CMJ on Pitchfork's #Offline: "It Has Everything To Do With CMJ"

Boogie Boarder play the Imposition--one of many rival festivals that sprout up every year--during CMJ 2009. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
Boogie Boarder play the Imposition--one of many rival festivals that sprout up every year--during CMJ 2009. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.

When, a couple days ago, Pitchfork announced they'd be hosting #Offline, a Brooklyn Bowl-based, three-day music festival in the midst of next week's CMJ, it seemed like a provocation, or at least a snub. We wrote about it some yesterday, but one side of the story that we didn't have and wanted was CMJ's in-house take on the matter. This morning, we got it, talking for a while with CMJ Showcase Director Matt McDonald. Our conversation ranged far beyond #Offline, into CMJ's more general place in the ecology of New York, circa 2010, but we'll save most of that for Monday, when it's Marathon Week proper. In the meantime though, we thought we'd share the CMJ official line on #Offline. It's about what you'd expect:

Let's talk about Pitchfork's #Offline Festival. Did you guys know this was coming?

Yeah, I mean, I knew that they were doing three days at Brooklyn Bowl. I didn't know how they were going to present it, so that was a little surprising. But it's a big city, it's a big event--if we worried about everyone who has taken advantage of the fact that all these acts are in town to play CMJ and then cobbled lineups together from that talent pool, we'd drive ourselves crazy.

What was surprising about the way they announced it?

Just that it's a "festival." And I think it's a little disingenuous to say it has nothing to do with CMJ--which, you know, it has everything to do with CMJ. Otherwise they wouldn't be doing it when they're doing it, where they're doing it. But you know, like I said, that's happened a million times in the past and I'm sure it will in the future, too.

Pitchfork is a little bit of a bigger entity than some of the other people who have previously counter-programmed against CMJ.

I don't know if that's so true. Between things that Spin has done and Cornerstone--I suppose they may be a bit more visible, but in my mind it seems like people are making a bigger deal out of it than it actually is.

Both Cornerstone and Spin tend to acknowledge at least that CMJ is going on, even if a badge won't let you in. Pitchfork didn't even mention you guys in their announcement.

Yeah, which is kinda goofy, and annoying, on some level. But you know, what are you gonna do?

But you guys aren't viewing it as competition? You don't sound that stressed.

No, not at all.

And as for the sort of taking advantage thing that you were kind of talking about? You guys aren't angry about that?

You know, at the end of the day, I think it ends up benefiting a lot of the artists who are in town. So as much as we'd like to be involved in everything that's happening that week, it's a small staff, and we try and focus on the things we can control.

Stay tuned for the more in-depth second half of this conversation, coming Monday.


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