Every city worth its chops as a center for the arts has its own music festival - Chicago has Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, Austin has Austin City Limits and SXSW, Los Angeles has Coachella and New York has CMJ. Each of these shows are reflective of the culture of the city, none more so than CMJ. CMJ is different from your standard music festival in that it's not one big event in a single large area, but rather ton of small events that take place in venues all over the city. The experience is something distinctly "New York," hopping from place to place seeing as many different shows as you can in a single night. It can be exhausting, but the effort is well worth it because along the way you're sure to see and experience many different parts of the city. New York is a city of exploration. With so many different types of people packed into a relatively small space, there is an infinite amount of places to discover. You never know what you're going to find when travelling around the city, and so by checking out all these shows you're bound to encounter interesting things - whether it's the venue the band is playing at, the bar around the corner that you get a beer at afterward the show or maybe a store you stop at on the way there. CMJ itself is reflective of this atmosphere of discovery. It is the premier event for seeing up and coming bands. Anyone who is trying to make it as a musician plays at CMJ. It is THE place to see bands before they blow up. Next year, many of the groups that you see playing in some packed tiny bar will be playing huge venues with thousands of people in attendance. With hundreds of artists performing all over the city, it's impossible to see everything. The best thing to do is take a look at the schedule and figure out a plan of attack. And if you haven't done so yet, head over HERE to grab tickets. To get you started we've got a track by rising Brooklyn pop star [mp3com-artist]Class Actress [/mp3com-artist]who will be playing shows with the Carpark/Paw Tracks, Blue Flowers and Puma/SPIN showcases and one by [mp3com-artist]Delicate Steve[/mp3com-artist] who will be playing at the Stereogum/PopGun showcase and at DROM. [mp3com-download url="http://files.radio.com/downloads/time-based/classactress.mp3 " artist="Class Actress" song="Weekend" expiration="10/31/2012" email="none" year="2011" label="Carpark Records"/] [mp3com-download url="http://files.radio.com/downloads/time-based/delicate-steve.mp3 " artist="Delicate Steve" song="Don't Get Stuck (Proud Elephants)" expiration="02/28/2013" email="none" year="2011" label="Luaka Bop"/] Stay tuned to the MP3.com Spotlight for the rest of the week, we'll be covering lots of CMJ shows and posting tons of free music!