Survival Strategies: How Bands Can Win At CMJ

After you find yourself stranded outside The Delancey behind a strange-looking man who is screaming, “I AM HERE TO SEE DELOREAN. THEY ARE A SPANISH BAND!” and you’re unable to get inside despite being “on the list,” you may decide that this isn’t an ideal venue to be hosting an event featuring a half-dozen rock bands. And then you may quickly resent the snarly boulder at the door who not only denies the existence of your wristband, which is on your wrist, but also the guest list. Defeated and unable to cover the band that was your raison d’etre for getting out of Brooklyn at such a ridiculous hour, you may even shamble over to Katz’s to stress-eat a knish. And then you’ll summarily dismiss three-quarters of all CMJ-related antics as “rubbish” and go onto pen a list of tips, tricks, and gimmicks that indie bands vying for relevance would do well to heed, lest they incur their own #CMJFails. That list is after the jump.

● Guitars are great, but there is only so much “shredding” musicians can accomplish while swinging their unshorn manes. Many bands would do well to take a cue from CMJ Best of Show Rubik and have an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to performance, swapping out guitars for trombones and electronic doohickeys on a lark.

● Sense of humor. Really, music stopped being about the music long, long ago. Heck, it even stopped being about the skinny jeans long, long ago, too. In these recessionomic times, people are likelier to fork over barely-there cash to their friends than total strangers. So musicians, be chummy and turn that frown upside down. Crack a joke. Do a jig. Heck, half-assedly play a Beyoncé cover. Seriously, your post-recession future depends on it.

● Women are talented. No really, indie bands! Many of you sound like James Blunt in the middle of a roid rage and would do well to scale it back. This sort of gimmick could break you into the major label success that you so desperately need. Consider fallen pop titans grasping for credibility. The UK’s teeming with them: Jamelia, that one Minogue sister who didn’t just wrap up a Stateside tour, and that broad from S Club 7. Camp adds color to an otherwise monochromatic indie sound. Seriously.

● Do not exceed your allotted time. I don’t care if this song is for your “best friend who helped me celebrate my cat’s birthday three nights ago” — if you’ve got 40 minutes, and we’re currently clocked in at minute 47, there is a problem. You should probably shut it down. Also: Please don’t dawdle in between songs. There’s always a midnight happy hour that CMJ attendees need to get to afterward.

● Most importantly: Mingle. You can sleep in all of next week. But the remainder of this week, dearest indie bands, you belong to the city.

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