So you’ve got a CMJ badge. Good for you!
But you need a smart strategy to use that badge effectively and make the most of your CMJ experience.
1. Make a plan: Sure, it’s fun for one night to wander the East Village, seeing whatever unknown band you can, but this gets old fast. You’ll be far less frustrated if you decide which bands you want to see — and map out in advance how to get from venue to venue.
2. Be flexible: It’s likely you’ll come up against a conflict more than once during the week. Bands run late, venues fill to capacity or MTA delays mess with your schedule. Have a backup plan, and find out early what other bands are playing nearby. Or relax and grab a drink while you’re waiting for the next band on your wish list.
3. Stick to one borough per night: The more adventureous can ignore this, but it’s a pain in the butt to go back and forth from Brooklyn to Manhattan. You’ll wear yourself out less if you stick to one general area.
4. Want to see a big headliner? Get there in time for the opening act: If you show up 20 minutes before Phoenix’s set, you’re not getting in —a badge is not a guarantee of entry. But if you’re really committed to seeing them (short of buying a ticket), get to the venue when the doors open and you’ll have a nearly 100 percent chance of getting in.
5. Look for unofficial shows: Sometimes labels or publications throw their own CMJ parties where they will honor your badge. If you can’t make the official show for a band you really want to see, check their website — they might be playing an under-the-radar showcase. Also, look for kids handing out fliers. They may know something you don’t.