CMJ, for those of you that don’t live in New York (or that do, and live under a rock), is a South By South West style music marathon/festival that takes over New York City the third week of October every year. It pretty much kicks Christmas and Halloween and every other winter holiday that involves food and/or presents’ ass. At least in my opinion.
While the week is really fun, especially if you have a badge (although you can have plenty of fun without one), it can be really stressful, and the stress of trying to get from The NYU Kimmel Center to Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn in 12 minutes to catch a band can be overwhelming.
That is why I am here to give you some advice on how to do CMJ right! This will be my fourth year going and I am just starting to make my schedule which you can check out here
Here are my tips to a successful CMJ:
1) Make a Realistic Plan Ahead of Time:
Before Monday hits and you’re whisked away to The Syndicate’s Conflict of Interest CMJ Pre-Party, sit down on the SCHED* based CMJ scheduler app and check off every showcase and panel you want to go to.
Look at a map and see where the venues are, so that you know what you’re getting in to, and so that you can see wether or not it is realistic to go to a 9:50 set at one venue and then make it to a 10:30 set at another.
Because a lot of the venues are more than just a few blocks away from each other, I check off every show I want to go to and every set a band I like has on the schedule. That way if I’m too far from Piano’s to make that 9:15 set I wanted to go to, I can walk over to Spike Hill or The Red Bull Space and see another band I like, and if I miss a set, I can see when the next time the band is playing.
You will probably stray from the schedule you make, but having a plan makes starting the week and getting into the CMJ groove a lot easier and less stressful.
2) Put Some Bands on Your Schedule You’ve Never Listened To:
It isn’t always fruitful, but sometimes a band with a cool name and an interesting bio ends up being awesome. I’m pretty stoked to see what Thunderfucks are all about.
3) RSVP To The Free Booze Parties (and any other really cool showcases):
The Purevolume House:
Purevolume has this guy Josh who throws/runs the Purevolume house every year, and I am convinced that he is the party throwing messiah. Although the line has gotten longer and longer every year, The Purevolume House is a MUST!
The Fader Fort:
I think that the Fader Fort is totally overhyped at SXSW, and I’ve never been to their event at CMJ, but you’ll at least score some swag-points if you can make it inside.
Eventbrite will have some great listings of other shows going on, and I’ll be posting my fair share of flyers up here on TTHU to share with y’alls.
CMJ to me, is all about discovering new music and meeting new people. I really prefer to fly solo so that I can see the bands I want to, and make new friends along the way. If you try and stick with a buddy the whole time, you may miss out on things you want to be a part of because your buddy wants to go to something else, and you feel obliged to stick with them.
5)Go with the Flow:
Although you have this awesome schedule you put together on the CMJ website, you’re probably going to meet a really cool Australian or some girl that knows about every band under the radar. Sometimes it is worth it to ditch your plans and go on a NYC adventure with someone new for some new tunes.
6)DONT GET TOO DRUNK:
I know everyone is going to literally be pouring alcohol down your throat, but if you start at 3pm and go hard until 3am, you’re not going to wake up for that panel in the morning.
7)Go to a Few Panels, But Go Early:
There are all kinds of interesting and insightful panels at CMJ about music, social media, and different careers within those fields. It is really important to get to panels a few minutes early, for a few reasons:
a)Everyone hates that asshole that barges in and makes a whole bunch of noise in the middle of a discussion.
b)Panels will fill up, and there may not be a seat for you.
c)Some panels are not as great as they may seem. If you’re there at the beginning and realize the panel you’re at isn’t really doing anything for you, you can slip out after a few minutes.
You’re going to meet a lot of people, that you may or may not want to network with, and it is important to carry your business card and take down some names. Whatever you do though, don’t overnetwork. Don’t walk into a room looking for the most important looking person. Look to make some friends, and go to a show with them. It will get you a lot farther than immediately programming them into your iPhone and sending them a followup email on the spot.
9) Don’t Wait More Than a Half an Hour in Line:
It just isn’t worth it! That’s an entire set!!
10) Don’t Go See Bands You’ve Seen 1,000 Times:
This just defeats the purpose of music showcases! CMJ is about discovering new music, not seeing a band you’ve seen more times than you can count! There are a lot of overseas bands that come and play CMJ, and missing an opportunity to see a band from 5,000 miles away for Portugal. The Man is a real shame. Although I do love me some Portugal. The Man.
11) THE GOLDEN RULE: Bring your cellphone charger:
You’re going to need that Google Maps app to show you the fastest way from the LES to Greenpoint, and you’re going to be tweeting, instagramming, and tumblring up a STORM, so bring your cell phone charger and juice up whenever you get a chance. Otherwise you might get stranded at Maxwell’s in Hoboken.