Submit Your Music Like A Pro
As independent artists struggle with the fractional royalty rates they are receiving from streaming services like Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music, many of them are bitter, stressed out and angry. As the recorded music market continues to grow at double-digit rates, many musicians are left wondering how they can build sustainable careers. While the system is certainly flawed, there is an unmistakable opportunity for DIY, hard-working artists who take the time to learn, develop, modify and execute on a plan. As we move into a new year, now is the perfect time to start preparing for your future releases and learn how to properly submit your music to reviewers, labels, and other industry gatekeepers.
Learn The Right Way To Submit Your Music
As a recording artist, you will undoubtedly need to submit your music to various entities multiple times per year. If you have a new single or album coming out you will need to submit to blogs and magazines. If your band is looking to get signed, you will need to submit to record labels. Managers, clubs, agents, publishers, PR and licensing opportunities all require you to submit information about your project so that the stakeholders involved can assess whether or not you are a good fit.
While this may seem like an easy task, making a professional presentation actually requires work, creativity, and a certain amount of finesse. As an indie label and music magazine, Trend & Chaos receives dozens of submissions every week. You would be surprised by the number of submissions we get that are incomplete or that sometimes include no information at all. A recent submission was accompanied by only this one line; “a song about being in a toxic relationship.” The song may be amazing and the artist may be extremely talented, but by sending that one line with no additional information, this artist is showing us that they didn’t care enough to take the time to give us the information we need to make an informed decision on whether or not we should cover this release.
“The Music Should Speak For Itself”
Well – not exactly. While ultimately you will be judged by your music, if you make it difficult for busy writers, producers or A&R execs to get info about your project, they may never hear your music. No one has the time to scour the web for your social media accounts, videos or photos. Make it easy for them! If you want people in the music industry to get behind you and support your project, it is important that you show them that you care enough to submit your music like a pro.
First Impressions Are Everything
Before you submit your music anywhere, you need to make sure you have all of your assets in order. Let’s start with photos because the people that review your submission will usually see your photo before they hear your music. Blogs and magazines all have different formats that they use to publish articles. Some blogs need a landscape photo to use as a featured image, so it is important to provide a few different options. I suggest providing at least 3 images; an album or single cover, a landscape artist/band photo, and a square artist/band photo.
PRO TIP: Provide web-ready (72 DPI, 1600px wide for landscape, 1000px square) and hi-res versions (300 DPI 4800px wide for landscape, 3000px square) so the writer does not need to convert them. They will appreciate it! A Dropbox link to a folder is a great way to provide the images.
Craft The Perfect Artist Bio
An artist’s bio/press release seems to be something many artists dread writing. Perhaps some do not like to talk about themselves or struggle with how to approach it. This is a very important part of the process and you should take the time to craft something that you are proud of. Many artists choose to write it in the third person to make it sound more professional as if it were written by a manager or PR agency. This is totally fine as long as you make sure it is all grammatically correct and properly formatted.
PRO TIP: The first paragraph is extremely important. Do not start your submission with “This song is about…”
Begin by announcing the new release. Give the major highlights and most interesting aspects of the release to draw the reader in. I do not recommend beginning the announcement with what seems to be the go-to language that people tend to use; “This song is about”… While the inherent subject matter of the track is very important, leading with that is not advised. The best way to do that is with a direct quote from the artist or songwriter. Magazines love a good quote, so giving them something personal about this song is a great way to get your song’s meaning out there.
The second paragraph should discuss any previous releases and any major accolades or achievements that the artist has achieved, such as incredible streaming numbers, sold-out shows, tour opening slots, collaborations, etc. If you don’t have any of those, then be creative and use this area to give the reader a view into who you are as an artist or band. The writing should be clear and concise with just enough information to make them want to find out more.
The last paragraph or 2 should be more biographical. Use this space to discuss where your band met, how you got your start, or that you have been playing the piano since age 5 (if you must). This is more of a historical snapshot that gives some insight into your past and the path you took to bring you to this point.
You Are More Than A Number
Whether we like it or not, we are all being judged by our social media numbers – followers, likes and comments. When an A&R rep or magazine writer receives your submission, they will surely jump to your social media accounts to check out your numbers. What are they really looking for? Engagement! Accounts with huge followings can seem very impressive at first, but what is most important is how people are engaging with an artist. At Trend & Chaos, we would rather see an account that has fewer followers but more genuine interaction. It shows us that an artist is connecting with real people and building a core audience. Accounts with very large followings and very low engagement may be a sign that the followers were purchased instead of obtained organically.
You must provide the major social media and streaming links that everyone will be interested in; your Website URL, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. You can also include Bandcamp if you have an account.
PRO TIP: Make sure the social media links are clickable. You would be surprised by how many we receive that are not and require us to copy and paste the URLs instead. Definite minus points for that!
The Main Ingredient – Submit Your Musc
Obviously, the most important part of your submission is your music. If the song or album is not released yet, the best way to submit it is a private Soundcloud link. You can choose to make it streaming only or downloadable. Some magazines or blogs may want the option to download it. If you have a video, then a private YouTube URL is the best way to submit.
If the song or album is released, you will want to provide an easy way for people to listen to it on the streaming service of their choice. I would suggest using a service like smart.url that allows you to make a nicely designed, mobile-ready page with direct links to all of the popular DSPs. They have a free version which is perfect for most needs.
If you are submitting a pre-released version, it is very important that you let people know that this is a preview version. Because when the actual release date comes, you will want to update them and direct them to the publicly released URLs.
PRO TIP: Do not submit or email mp3, WAV or other audio files. No one wants to receive large files in their inbox. It is much easier for them to just click on a link and immediately hear the track. This may seem obvious but there are some people who still do it!
There Is No Such Thing As Bad Press
If you have had magazine and blogs post about your previous releases then it is very important that you let people know. Also, if you have a list of quality Spotify playlists that have included your song, this is the place to add that info. For press, you will want to have a simple list of featured posts. It is not necessary to list every single piece of press you have ever received. You can include a link to a press page on your website if you want to show it all. For submission purposes, you will need the blog or magazine post title, the name of the publication and a pull quote. Remember to include a link to the original post.
PRO TIP: A pull quote is the one or two sentences from a post that is the most flattering. Which line from the whole article would you share as a tweet? That should be the pull quote.
Early Preparation Is Important
The most important thing to remember is that when you submit your music to someone, you are not just submitting ‘your music’. You are giving them a snapshot view of your whole project or career. I can’t stress enough how important it is to put in the work weeks before you are planning to submit. Ask a friend or mentor to read it, check for spelling or formatting errors, make sure that all of the URLs are working and that the photos are properly formatted. The time you spend in preparation will make the process of self-promotion and submissions a lot less stressful. If you follow these tips, you will be able to submit your music like the pro that you are.
Good luck with your submissions!
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