October 13, 2015


CMJ 2015: A Complete Survival Guide

Johnny Nunez/WireImage
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

It's that time of year again, folks! The 2015 College Music Journal Marathon (CMJ for short) is kicking off on Tuesday (Oct. 13), as New York City welcomes its doors to small, up-and-coming acts of all sizes. There's no central location: like SXSW, this bad boy happens all over the place, but primarily in Lower Manhattan and North Brooklyn.

Need some help navigating the sprawling annual fest? Here's our handy-dandy CMJ 2015 survival guide:


CMJ takes place across many venues throughout the city. For a full map / venue list, visit their website! Note that you'll be able to use regular public transportation to access the spaces.


CMJ Badges will allow you to get into most official showcases (time and capacity permitting.) You can purchase them on the conference's website. Note: They don't come cheap! If you work in the biz, see what you can do to get your hands on one for less. Badges will allow you to enjoy the panels and conference as well as the gigs; a show pass just allows you to enter the latter. 

General Admission: $549.00
Student Badge: $365.00
Student Group (5-9 badges): $250.00
Student Group (10+ badges): $200.00
Show Pass $149.00


At the Dream Downtown (355 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011 -- Take the L/A/C/E to 14th Street at 8th Avenue or the 1 at 18th Street.)

Tuesday, Oct. 13: 9AM - 8PM
Wednesday, Oct. 14: 9AM - 8PM
Thursday, Oct. 15: 9AM - 8PM
Friday, Oct. 16: 9AM - 8PM

Roger Kisby/Getty Images
Roger Kisby/Getty Images


Regardless of what bands or sounds you're into, this is New York City: You're going to be doing some walking. Here's what you might consider wearing:

Backpack: Save yourself unnecessary pain and leave the shoulder bags at home.
Two pairs of comfortable shoes: Most CMJ showcases are indoors, which really frees up what you can wear on your feet. Without having to contend with rain or mud all day, feel free to go with sneakers or boots, or whatever you're comfortable in! Just make sure to bring something comfortable and already worn-in – and bring a back-up pair of kicks as well, just in case.
Watch: You’ll be checking the time constantly to hit up your choice sets, so spare your phone battery and pack a watch instead.
Extra socks: You'll thank us if you wind up getting caught in the rain.
Sunglasses: Because sun.
Hat: Because SUN!


You might not see all these items as necessities, but we think it’s better to be over-prepared. Onto the checklist:

Cash: Cards should be fine at most places, but you don't want to get hit with ATM withdrawal fees if you end up in a bind.
Poncho and/or Umbrella: It's fall and you're in New York City.
Phone charger:  Don't leave it in your hotel room!


Make a Plan
It might be hard, but try to have a schedule figured out ahead of time. If you’re with a group and want to meet up during the day or at the end of the night, agree on a specific meeting place. Remember that a lot of the showcases will fill up really fast, so get there early if a band is on your must-see list.

Break Your Plan
Festivals are about adventure and discovery, so don’t treat your plan like a class schedule. See the sets you want to, even if your friends aren’t as jazzed about them. If you’re walking past a band you don’t know, but dig the sound, stop and listen...CMJ is all about discovering the next big thing.

Drink Water Constantly
Passing out is the opposite of fun -- as is nursing a brutal headache, taking a trip in an ambulance, etc. Keep the water-chugging steady to avoid getting dehydrated.

When it’s hot or when you're having a ton of fun, finding time to eat can feel like a chore, but with constant walking and standing, you’ll need all the energy you can get. New York City has amazing food, so there's no reason to skip out on a slice of pizza (or three).

Don’t Overdo the Booze
Yes, beer and live music are an excellent pair, but pace yourself. Nothing kills the fun like a massive hangover. You'll probably find yourself in and around a few open bars...cool it, folks!

Got any festival tips of your own? Add them in the comments below!