As of late Tuesday evening there are, as we expected, no CMJ charts. There is a chance they could come up tomorrow or even Thursday but I am not holding out hope.
Yet college radio was still very active this week. There were a lot of new records going for ADDS and a number of records pushing for Top 10’s as well. I talked to a lot of Music Directors and most of them knew something was going on with CMJ. Some Music Directors found out from this blog and some found out from other promoters. A lot of Music Directors were switching over to NACC (more on them later) and some are using Spinitron. These stations will continue to exist. But how we value and interacted with some of these stations has been dependent on the existence of CMJ. For all of CMJ’s flaws, it had legitimized an industry. In the past, the loss of CMJ could have meant the end of our jobs. We are lucky to have alternatives to CMJ, even if those alternatives have flaws.
I have loved playing the CMJ game all of these years and it really has not hit me that it might be over. But what has become more apparent, the more I thought about it, is how much of a game it really is.
One station asked me what they should do if there is no CMJ. They knew about NACC and the option of doing something similar to CMJ. They also knew of Spinitron/Medium Rotation but had their reservations. They explained that most of their charts, for lack of a better word, are “fake.” They chart things they liked or charted for the promoters that they liked. Real spins only happened on a few shows throughout the week. I tried to explain that I think those real spins are more important than what they think are cool. But I do think both are valuable.
I do feel that some of the stations that I like are going to be left behind because there is no more CMJ. There is simply no reason for me to talk to a zero watt station in a town with 12 people. Some of them I will still talk to because I like them but I won’t be able to justify setting aside a hard copy for them. There are some of these stations that have fought going digital for years and I would send them one hard copy a week and most weeks I would get that Top 5 ADD. I am not sure any of those really help the artist unless they helped me get to a #1 Most Added record. A lot of what I liked about CMJ are the things I won’t miss. I won’t miss ADDS and this is coming from someone who LOVES the competition of going for ADDS. I won’t miss having no idea how a record with more stations ends up charting 5 spots lower than a record with less stations. I won’t miss stations that miss the 2pm deadline although they could have reported on Fridays.
I think I will miss CMJ. CMJ is all that I have known in my years as a Music Director and now as a Promoter. Perhaps NACC will become a legit alternative. Currently, they do not provide any information about what goes into their charts. Until that happens, I cannot take them as a real alternative. Looking over this week’s NACC chart it looks a lot like how a CMJ chart might have looked if there was one. Cloud Nothings looks like they might have taken #1. Ty Segall perhaps might have been #2. When you get deeper into the chart you see things like 18 Singles charting. Towards the end, Tegan and Sara come back on the chart. IF you compare that to what might have been on CMJ you see only one CMJ station reported them. The simple answer is to release the data on who reports each week or at least the number of people. Until then, the NACC chart is just as good as this Top 5 I just made up.
2) Tegan and Sara
4) Rolling Stones
5) Grateful Dead
And there you go! Those are the Top 5 records at college radio! I provided you with just as much information as NACC has provided to us. So you should just accept my chart as a real chart.
I do think there can be both NACC and Spinitron/Medium Rotation charts though. NACC is still very new and can start to provide information to legitimize itself and they can become the new tastemaker chart. Whereas the Spinitron chart can provide real spin data and can help bands and labels more in the long run. I started to view the Spinitron vs CMJ charts as checks on one another. If you see something really high on the CMJ chart you should then also see it on the Spinitron chart and vice versa. I think those checks are good for our industry moving forward.
We have been dreading this day for a long time. There were times in the past where CMJ crashed for a week. Missed charts are rare but they have happened. But it has been on the decline for years.
I could keep going but the trend continues. If you go back 10 years, the number of stations reporting to CMJ was 609. As an industry we are better off not relying on a flawed system.
Thanks for reading. We will talk more about charts next week.