Photo by Sam Horine/Gothamist

CMJ 2012 has arrived, and while you can totally shell out $549 for a full badge getting you into all eight bajillion official shows, parties and panels (a paltry $149 ShowPass only scores you access to the music), there are a whole slew of shows that are free for the budget-conscious and badgeless. And in our experience, those are usually the best shows. Here are our picks for the seven best free showcases at CMJ this year:

Impose's Terrorbird Media CMJ Day Party 2012
An RSVP will get you in to see gratis live sets by WIN WIN, Prince Rama, Mykki Blanco and Pictureplane, among others. And be sure to get there early to snag some free PBR and a Terrorbird tote bag.
Wednesday, Oct. 17, noon to 6:30 p.m., 152 Ludlow Street

We Listen For You x The Needle Drop x Beats Per Minute CMJ Showcase
Moved from Delinquency BLVD to Public Assembly, this 18+ show features performances Dent May, Mac DeMarco, Teen Suicide, Poor Lily, The Deloreans, Attic and Abasement. No RSVP or badge required.
Wednesday, Oct. 17, noon to 6 p.m., 70 N 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

My SocialList & Domino Street CMJ Showcase at Public Assembly
Check out this free day party for performances by Royal Baths, Wild Yaks and the Intelligence, with a fourth act TBA.
Thursday, Oct. 18, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 70 N 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

CMJ/KEXP Live Broadcast Series @ CMJ Union
CMJ's teaming up with Seattle's KEXP radio station to put together this showcase, which is free for non-badgeholders with an RSVP. Friday's daytime show is headlined by the Antlers and features performances by Wild Nothing and Kishi Bashi.
Friday, Oct. 19, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., 27 Union Square West

Pitchfork @ Villain
That music website everyone once-loved-to-hate-but-probably-doesn't-really-care-about-hating-anymore has put together a killer, unofficial and free lineup in Williamsburg. Death Grips headlines, with sets by local artists like DIIV, Joey Bada$$ and Le1f. And if you're looking to get in on this show early, Pitchfork will be giving away 200 priority tickets tomorrow and Thursday at Topman in SoHo between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., 50 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Bowery Presents: CMJ 2012 Day Party
Pianos hosts a bunch of free sets both upstairs and downstairs, including The Orwells, Savages, Foxygen, Born Ruffians, Ava Luna, Sky Ferreira, Opossom and San Cisco. No RSVP necessary, but make sure to come early for $3 Bloody Marys from noon to 2 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 at noon, 158 Ludlow Street

2012 CMJ Imposition
Close out CMJ week with performances by LE1F and Black Marble, and a DJ set by MEN's JD Samson. An RSVP gets you free PBR all night; original venue Delinquency looks like it's temporarily closed, so keep your eyes peeled for a new location.It is now at The Paper Box, across the street from Shea Stadium, at 17 Meadow Street.
Saturday, Oct. 20, 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

CMJ kicked off today and continues through Saturday: check out the official schedule here for a full list of shows and events.