The New York Times asks readers to review CMJ rock concerts on Twitter

Dylan Stableford

The CMJ Music Marathon, an annual festival of mostly unknown indie rock bands, kicks off on Tuesday in New York. More than 1,300 acts are scheduled to perform at this year's fest, which takes place at dozens of venues across the city for the next five days.

The New York Times is crowdsourcing some of its coverage of CMJ, inviting readers to review select shows on Twitter while using a #mycmjreview hashtag. The paper plans to publish some of them on its ArtsBeat blog.

Jon Caramanica, the Times pop music critic, posted his coverage plan and today's crowd assignment:

Before and after Wild Flag, I'll attempt to see Psychobuildings at the Delancey and Hunters at Cake Shop, both shows within spitting distance of the Bowery, and then I'll be heading over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn for Friends at 285 Kent (hopefully) and Light Asylum at Public Assembly.

But that's just me, one man taxed to his limits. I can use some help: you should also rush to see Cerebral Ballzy at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Radical Dads at Rock Shop in Williamsburg; Titus Andronicus at the Stereogum party at Glasslands, also in Williamsburg; and the blues revivalist Gary Clark Jr. at the Highline Ballroom on West 16th Street in Chelsea.

After the shows--or during--send your 140-character reviews via Twitter with #mycmjreview. If you're at one of the shows I'm at, also send your impressions and we'll see where we agree or disagree. Thanks for the assist.

For the Times--whose leaders have been critical of the kind of unpaid journalism and aggregation practiced by the Huffington Post and others--the CMJ initiative is a step away from its commitment to traditional reporting and criticism, and perhaps a small glimpse of its future.

Of course, this isn't the first time that the Times has crowdsourced coverage of a large event, news or otherwise.

In August, the Times asked readers to help sift through the release of 24,000 emails from Sarah Palin's term as Alaskan governor. (The Times wasn't the only outlet to do so--prompting criticism from pundits like Jon Stewart, who felt the news media were picking on Palin.)

In September, the Times and WNYC launched Schoolbook, a collaborative site focused on New York City's 2,500 public and private schools.

In 2009, the paper of record asked readers to review the release of Tim Geithner's daily calendar during the financial crisis, when Geithner was the head of the Federal Reserve.

The Times also recently launched beta620, a crowdsourced testing ground "for anyone to suggest and collaborate on new ideas and products" being developed by the paper.

It's also not the first time a major media outlet has attempted to crowdsource coverage of a large rock festival. In 2010, AOL's Seed offered aspiring rock critics $50, upon publication, for each interview they conducted with one of the 2,000 or so bands scheduled to perform at South By Southwest, the annual Austin, Texas, indie rock festival that's similar to CMJ. (The project was criticized by some who thought AOL was preying on desperate freelancers.)

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