Plenty of grizzled artists can tell you that instead of being magically discovered and breaking through, they had to pay dues to get any kind of recognition. Part of that is promoting yourself online. And while there are a few success stories of this happening (i.e. Arctic Monkeys), it's still a tiny percentage compared to all the bands out there now taking advantage of websites where they can post and promote their music. MySpace is obviously the mama of them all now but Sonicbids is also making itself felt in this area. What's happening now is that they're working in conjunction with music festivals who use their posting services to help screen the acts that will or won't be included in showcases. Right now, CMJ is using them and so is SXSW.
The thing is... it looks like CMJ wasn't actually screening all the acts while they were taking registration money from all the bands. As Ghostmedia reported, some of the rejection letters that were sent out went to bands who didn't have ANYONE listen to their Sonicbids profile as tracked by the website- that would mean that no one at CMJ actually listened to them before rejecting them. Naughty, naughty... The article also has a response from CMJ who say that the zero count on these bands' Sonicbid pages is a misnomer and that they do actually listen to all the bands who sign up and submit material. Is that true or this just said to cover themselves? Either way, it should be a wake-up call that the whole selection process needs to be more transparent (as noted in the comments on the Ghostmedia page).