You could argue that ever since hip-hop blogs became a thing, independent artists have been submitting their own music to these same blogs.
As an artist, you’re probably aware of the difficulty in actually getting a recipient to listen to your music, let alone post and share it with their following.
As a recipient of these music submissions, you’re most likely frustrated with the kinds of email submissions that plague your inbox.
Artists, bloggers…I’m here to try and bring everyone together. I recently published a short piece on some general email submission etiquette, but now, I’ve taken it a step further to help indie artists everywhere craft better music submissions not only for their own sake, but for the sanity of the bloggers who receive these submissions by the hundreds day-in and day-out.
I reached out to multiple experts – people who’ve reviewed music submissions for a long while – and asked them one, simple question:
What is the most important aspect to consider or thing to do when writing a music submission?
Each influencer responded as you’ll see below. I urge artists to heed this advice and work to improve your chances of getting your music heard, posted and shared with the world.
Here is a list of all the experts who contributed to this article:
Brian “Z” Zisook
“At DJBooth, we’ve found the best submissions are often those that allow the music to do the talking. Instead of writing an essay in the body of your e-mail, complete with your backstory or mini bio and links to every website your work has every graced, try to pen a short, professional 2-3 line introduction and leave the link to your song or video — not your project — along with your social media platforms. If a site receives hundreds or even thousands of submissions per month, the less is more approach will increase the odds your material will even be heard.”
Tip #1 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Less Is More - @djbooth Click To Tweet
MAAD Management, LLC.
“I honestly don’t take submissions unless it’s someone requesting to hire me or someone I know and [who] is referred [to me] directly. [I] just don’t have the time in my day to listen to all 30 emails sent per day. Most have no call-to-action – they don’t even clarify what they are asking from me, which is the most frustrating and why I dont even bother responding/listening.”
Tip #2 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Have a Call-to-Action - @MichaelJTrampe Click To Tweet
News Writer, Freelance Writer
“Don’t be generic. You have to show that you’re actually invested in the site or blog posting your music. The submission can’t look like it could be sent to any other outlet if you’re truly trying to get noticed. You’re trying to build a connection, so don’t make a bad first impression.”
Tip #3 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Don't be generic - @JustinIvey_ Click To Tweet
Surviving the Golden Age
“So many people submit with just “check out this track I just made. It’s FIRE!!!” I’m not going to listen to that. I do not know who you are, what your deal is, or even what kind of music this is. A couple of well crafted sentences could entice me into listening but just a command of “Listen to this” makes me want to do the exact opposite.”
Tip #4 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Say more than, 'listen to this' - @STGAdam Click To Tweet
I Still Love H.E.R.
“For me, one of the most important things is to have it look as professional as possible and nicely formatted. Also making sure all information the blogger might need is included. Keep in mind that blogs receive lots and lots of submissions every day and the easier you make their job, the higher the chances are that your track will be listened to and posted.”
Tip #5 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Act and look professional - @IStillLoveHER Click To Tweet
Adulis “Chedo” Mokanan
The Come Up Show
“The most important aspect when writing a music submission is keeping it personal. When people send an email blast, whether it’s a BCC or an email list, they are taking a shortcut. An email newsletter should only be used once you’ve established a relationship and a rapport. Funny enough, artists who I feel are on the come-up…still take the time to do this day to send me a personal email when they have something new out. They’ve been doing it for years now, to be honest at this point if they sent me a BCC or an email blast I wouldn’t mind because they have WON me over.
So if you are a new artist who doesn’t have a relationship with the writer that you are sending your music to, please keep it personal. Take a few moments, check their twitter or social media stream or their latest piece on the website and comment about it. If their favorite football team lost, mention it sucks they lost or even have a bit of fun and tell me who your team is. Basically, connect with them like a real person. So send an email directly to their email address; this alone, in my opinion, increases the chance they reply to [your] email because they see you have personally emailed them. I, as a blogger, feel more compelled and on the hook to respond back to you because I know there isn’t anyone else on the thread. Build that relationship any way you can.”
Tip #6 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Establish a relationship first - @thecomeupshow Click To Tweet
Matt “Malbin” Albin
“The number one thing to consider when writing a music submission is to be sure that everything that someone like me would need is in the email. Social media links, a short bio on yourself/artist you are representing, and proper links to stream the music are cornerstones for sure. A nice added touch would be to actually comment on our work (we can’t tell if it’s genuine or not, but it helps 😉). The one thing that irks me about submissions is unsolicited attachments. In an ideal world, the email would list a link to the artwork for the song and a stream to the song, not an attached artwork and MP3 file.”
Tip #7 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Include all necessary info - @fashearlymusic Click To Tweet
Dead End Hip Hop
“It’s all about respect, not just for us the writers, but even for yourself the artist. If it’s not dope, don’t send it. Have enough respect for yourself to get your music mixed before you send it. I don’t care if you messed up one line make sure your art is polished before you send it. Also remember writers have lives outside of YOUR project and approach accordingly. Writers want to help get your music out too, but if your approach is wrong you just sound rude.”
Tip #8 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Respect the writer...and yourself - @BigSto Click To Tweet
William E. Ketchum, III
Okayplayer, BET, COMPLEX + more
“I think it’s important to stand out, to be professional, to be good, and to have a story. Don’t expect folks to post your music just because you submitted it, and don’t spam or diss on social media. Be professional: keep your email polite, brief, and descriptive. And include everything the writer would need to post your music: that includes a link, a horizontally-[aligned] photo, a short bio, and your social media handles. But most importantly, find a way to make your submission stand out from the hundreds/thousands of messages we’re getting every day. Don’t think you’re entitled to a post, because that’s the best way to not get one.”
Tip #9 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Find a way to stand out - @WEKetchum Click To Tweet
Justin “J.Good” Goodwin
“I think the most important thing you can do as an artist is actually visit the site that you are submitting to. Most of the times artists copy and paste from a list and hit send. You should look around the site and make sure that your music fits what they post. Also look at their contact page. Most sites have very specific submission information. And last but not least, be patient and follow up.”
Tip #10 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Know your audience - @str8outdaden Click To Tweet
“The most important thing which attracts me to a submission is the personal touch of the email. If I feel like the artist or his rep is directly speaking to me in the email as opposed to a common blast to everyone else, there is a good chance I will check out the music.”
Tip #11 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Add a personal touch - @navjosh Click To Tweet
“Tailor your submission based on what would appeal most to the recipient, not strictly what you want that person to do for you. Understand that the people you send submissions to likely get dozens or hundreds of submissions daily. Recognize that you need to stand out if you want a chance of being noticed.”
Tip #12 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Appeal to the recipient - @MichellCClark Click To Tweet
The Dope Show
“When submitting to music publications (online or print), the most important thing artists should do, in my opinion, is to check and see if the places you’re submitting to have their own set of submission guidelines. Some places don’t even consider listening to your music if it’s not sent in the proper format they ask for so it’s important to do a little research before submitting anything.”
Tip #13 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Follow submission guidelines - @Tia_The_Writer Click To Tweet
You Heard That New
“The most important thing to consider when submitting music is to understand that you’re not the only one submitting music which ultimately means you’re not the only one I’m focusing on. I also want artists to realize that saying “YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS” only pushes me away from actually listening to your product. Presentation is key, so it always helps if a Soundcloud link, artwork, [and] blurb about the project are included. I’m not trying to put the pieces to your puzzle together.”
Tip #14 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Respect the recipient's time - @LowKeyUHTN Click To Tweet
Garden State Hip Hop
“Personally, from my experience as a music publicity intern, the ideal content submission should consist of a press photo, MP3 files (Radio & Explicit), artwork, track summary, and a one sheet. One sheets are huge in the music industry. It’s like a job resume on steroids. It tells the public who you are and what you have accomplished. More artists should focus on submitting quality bios and one sheets, a great song does not hurt either.”
Tip #15 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Include a one sheet - @RodneyGSHH Click To Tweet
“I’d say the biggest and most important aspect is to be original. Too many artists out there are trying to copy what gets noticed and is the fad and seem to lose themselves and their pride and have no stance nor will to make righteous music. They worry too much on what the other person is doing and replicates it whether they agree with it or not, just as long as it gets them attention. Music is one of the biggest platforms to express one’s self and yet the majority of artists would rather abuse it by trying to be someone they’re not and become the next this person or that person instead of being themselves.”
Tip #16 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Be yourself - @OkThoMag Click To Tweet
“The most important thing to me when reviewing a music submission is how the information is organized. With the high volume of submissions, it helps a lot to have the artist’s name, song title, short description, links, etc. in an outlined format to make posting easier. Nothing is worse than listening to a great submission and having to scour the internet to find a high-res image needed to post or bio etc.”
Tip #17 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Be organized - @ccelli Click To Tweet
The Word Is Bond
“Pay attention to how your submission looks and sounds. We are not talking about the track or video. We are talking about a good quality and high resolution image, something that pops. Also make sure you write at least a couple of paragraphs about the track you are submitting and another 1 or 2 about yourself. This doesn’t take long, and it would make a huge difference, as most of the submissions we get, are lacking heavily on what’s mentioned. Unfortunately, if we don’t know what the artist and track is about, as much as we like what we see/hear, we can’t really write about it. Help us, help you.”
Tip #18 for Submitting Music to Blogs: Write about your song/video/album - @rveenewman Click To Tweet
Editor’s Note: Some of these tips have been edited for clarity.