Sunday, April 15, 2007

in case you missed it: rock fest dies because the 501(c)(3) crowd gets no overtime

Plain Dealer Entertainment & Pop Culture: CMJ/Rock Hall Music Fest cancelled after two-year run -- You know, it was ridiculous enough to institutionalize rock and roll in the first place by establishing a nonprofit museum to be the custodian of it. By the time you can identify it, categorize it, and put it into a museum, it's about moribund and a mere curiosity anyway, the shadow of its former self. However, all the woosies who watched rock's evolution safely from the sidelines drew salaries to highjack and display other peoples' life-work product. They got "nice clean jobs." Security. Three squares a day. Healthcare benefits, retirement plans, the chance to move outside the city. All the things, in short, that rock is not about. Now they want overtime.

As we see in this PD article, the woosies can't get overtime to continue to run the music fest, so they're bailing after a scant two years. Usually, it takes three years to ramp up an event anyway, and they're running from it to avoid being committed down the road. They also won't show the numbers. Should we wonder why?

Here's the whole thing from the PD. I think I'm getting nauseous, reading at the end of the article the fact that it wasn't about rock and roll, it wasn't about the collaboration with the clubs and the kids, it wasn't about the good of the city or the inflow of additional revenue to the region, and new NEO visitors, it was about the welfare of the omnipresent "us" of the nonprofit entity, the monster that takes on a life of its own in the nonprofit sector and devours everything, leaving little for the execution of the original mission. Emphasis and reformatting are mine.

What do we pay the rock-acolyte woosies for, anyway? Whatever it is, I think it's high time for a pay cut.

CMJ/Rock Hall Music Fest cancelled after two-year run

Posted by John Soeder April 06, 2007 10:08AM
John SoederPlain Dealer Pop Music Critic

Organizers have pulled the plug on the CMJ/Rock Hall Music Fest, after a two-year run. "Overall, we felt good about the program, but . . . the resources it took for us to produce it were larger than we could bear," said Todd Mesek, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's vice president of marketing and communications.

Mesek declined to reveal the cost of mounting the festival, which was partly underwritten by sponsors.

The event put a strain on Rock Hall staffers, too.

"On top of their day jobs here, they had to run the festival," Mesek said. "They weren't getting paid extra."

The inaugural Music Fest, held over three days and four nights in June 2005 at the Rock Hall and other Cleveland venues, featured performances by 100 acts, including the Pixies and Grandmaster Flash. The festivities drew 17,800 people. DJ Peretz (aka Perry Ferrell of Jane's Addiction) and Matisyahu were among the 100-plus acts in town for the 2006 festival, which expanded to five days and nights last June. Attendance increased 7 percent, to 19,100.

Music Fest had an annual economic impact of $3 million, with half of the attendees each year coming from outside Northeast Ohio, Mesek said.
The festival was a joint venture between the Rock Hall and the CMJ (College Media Journal) Network, whose long-running CMJ Music Marathon in New York City lures upwards of 100,000 fans every fall to check out 1,000 bands.

"Although we're disappointed that [Music Fest] will not be happening in 2007, we're very proud of its success and accomplishments in '05-'06 and honored to have partnered with the Rock Hall as well as the incredible members of Cleveland's live music community," CMJ founder Bobby Haber said in an e-mail.

Clubs put up their own money to book acts during the festival.

"A small group of people had to struggle to pull it together," said Cindy Barber, co-owner of the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, one of Music Fest's partner venues.
"We couldn't get big-name bands, because we didn't have the money to pay them," Barber said. "The only extra stuff we got was some improved marketing."
All the same, she is disappointed to see Music Fest go."It was a great idea," Barber said. "There just wasn't enough funding to pull it off."

In the past, Rock Hall and CMJ officials said they hoped to grow the festival over a period of several years.

"At the end of the day, to build it would've required taking more resources from other museum projects," Mesek said.

Instead, the Rock Hall plans to beef up free events at the museum, including community festivals and the Summer in the City concert series, Mesek said.

"We also plan to develop new programs with local clubs, because we feel promoting live music in the city helps all of us, including the Rock Hall," Mesek said.

Music Fest "was an experiment," Mesek said. "We wanted to make it happen for the good of the city. . . . Now we're trying to find a model that works for the city and for us."


  1. "They weren't getting paid extra."
    Now that's punk. Push'em in the mosh pit, say I.

  2. Phil, I hadn't quite thought of it that way. Have at it! That can be their initiation to what it's really all about.