The CMJ Music Marathon starts today and plays through Saturday at about two dozen venues in North Brooklyn. Here are some tips for navigating the festival, and some fancy graphs to show you the bands recommended by local blogs and publications.

With so many acts playing, you should have a guide you can travel with to help navigate CMJ. Fortunately, the festival organizers put some real thought into their smartphone app this year. It has an interactive map showing all the participating music venues, and it’s free. Clicking on a venue shows you the complete schedule of shows.

By clicking on a show name, you get a little mini-description of each band, and you can even preview songs by the band from within the app.

Simply search for “CMJ 2015” in your iOS or Android app store for the download.

Greenpointers’ Nicole C. also put together a Spotify playlist of CMJ bands playing locally, so you don’t have to navigate through each band’s page on the CMJ app to hear all the songs.


For those of you who like to geek out on visual design (like us), here is a montage of some sweet logos for bands playing the Music Marathon:

A video posted by CMJ (@cmjofficial) on

Now, what if you don’t have time to listen to a ton of bands in the app to decide who to see? You could spend hours poring through music blogs and publications to compile a list of their favorites. To save you some time, we decided to dust off a relatively hoary gizmo, a word cloud, to show what bands the local press is getting excited about seeing.

We put our best minds to work on the word cloud

What we did is run a ton of local media recommendations for CMJ through a word cloud generator. The more often a band or showcase was mentioned in local media, the bigger its name shows up in the graphic below. Here is our word cloud for bands. Click on it to see the larger version:

And here is one for showcases (multiple acts):

For venue and time information, click here for a searchable list of bands. The list also has a pull-down menu option to search by showcase name for official showcases, including those sponsored by a venue host.

If a showcase is not listed on the CMJ website, congratulations, you have the cachet of attending an unofficial show. Just run a Google search for “CMJ 2015” and the showcase name to find out where you need to be to get ushered into the underground.

A few caveats apply. As we all know, just because a band is popular doesn’t mean it’s the best band at CMJ, or the band you would enjoy best. And, getting into a popular show is sometimes going to be a challenge, so you want to check on individual ticket availability ahead of time, or follow the local shows we will be recommending during the course of CMJ that are below the radar of the mainstream press.

Also be sure to catch some of our favorite acts at the Greenpointers showcase during CMJ, co-organized by Carabella and Supercrush Studio, taking place at Bar Matchless on Friday night. You can find out more details here.

Thanks to the following blogs and media outlets for the recommended bands and showcases used in our word cloud: Brokelyn, Bedford + Bowery, Brooklyn Vegan, Brooklyn Based, Brooklyn Magazine, Free Williamsburg, Metro NY, AM New York, Time Out New York, Village Voice, New York Times, and the New Yorker (all links go to CMJ recommendations). We’ll keep it updated as more picks arrive!

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