It’s been our experience that a lot of bands and promoters are doing it wrong. The process of submitting music to critics, bloggers, and other writers is complicated in one sense because each site wants things differently, but it’s often super simple. Here are a few suggestions to make your music submission process easier (and to guarantee more positive responses… or ANY response).
1) READ THE SITE’S POLICY: It’s amazing how few artists actually submit where or how we intend. For our site, it’s pretty simple. Just send us something we can hear to our email address and we’ll put you in the line. Other sites require specific submission methods and formats. Write it down if you have to, but do what they want.
2) DON’T SUBMIT A BLANKET MESSAGE: We don’t spam you, so don’t spam us. Press releases are one thing. To be honest (listen up PR companies) you are much more likely to get a response if you tailor your message to one of the writers at a given site.
3) TELL US ABOUT YOUR MUSIC: We don’t need you to go on and on, but we’re probably not going to give it more than a cursory glance if we don’t have some sense of what it is. I will add a caveat here; if the music is artist-submitted we’ll give it a listen 100% of the time (since it’s central to our mission). But if the music comes via a professional PR agency and does NOT include a description (at minimum a genre, preferably some level of description), odds are we won’t give it a chance. I’ve heard too much mediocre bar rock. Get us hooked.
4) SUBMIT APPROPRIATELY: We’ve had more than one band submit music here that is very far afield from the genres that we cover. While we have the occasional outlier, we tend to cover a few very specific genres. Most of the music blogs out there are the same way. Reading the “about us” (or similar section) on a site can really help you tailor your submission to the right reviewer. Mention them by name in the submission, “Greg would really like our sound because of our tight harmonies.” A reviewer sees that in his email and thinks, “oh sweet… this will be good.”
5) PAY ATTENTION TO THE SITE’S FOCUS: This is a bit redundant with point four, but in addition to genre it might be also helpful to consider the geographic and other focuses of websites. If a site says “Best Bands in Texas” and you’re from Long Island… save yourself the time.
A final suggestion is that we have to remember we’re a community in music. Share artists, friends, collaborators, and contacts with each other. While one person might be your “break,” good juju goes a long way. We’ve found several artists that we’ve featured on this site because another artist said “oh contact so and so… they’re great!” Lucky breaks usually aren’t based in luck.
These might seem like common sense ideas, but for the folks starting out in this “business” it’s amazing how many mistakes are made. The last point I’ll make is that you need a thick skin and a lot of perseverance. Remember that the Beatles were rejected by the first label that heard them. Seriously… the Beatles. If some blogger in his parents’ basement doesn’t like your stuff, don’t have up the guitar. Keep working. Write some new music. Submit to other blogs. Someone might really like your sound and what you do. You never know has a record deal or a tour contact. Do unto others… and keep making great music.