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Music Blog 101: Submissions, Social Media, and Music Streaming Platforms

New year, new you? What to send to a blog, what platform should you be on and other tips from a music blogger.

About two years ago GUM tried to post some tips specifically for artists looking to submit their music to blogs. Obviously things change constantly and here are some updated tips that I’ve ventured across that expands a little further from the original “what not to send to music blogs.” Yet, in the span of two years (when I originally wrote this) I realized that things have changed again and all of this is probably irrelevant. One thing has not changed though: just be yourself. This goes out specifically for artists. You will want to know everything below but when it comes down to it, if you’re not yourself it won’t work. Use these tools to your advantage and don’t let the tools use you. Also don’t be a dick.

What to send to a music blog?

Touched on this before but to reiterate, send the purpose of the submission. If you can provide as much information, while sticking to the point, the better. EPK, any Press Releases and press photos are always great to send along with a personalized message. Personalized as in taking the time to research the blog to see if your music is a good fit, and so it doesn’t look like you just copied and paste; don’t waste anyone’s time with the submission. Those 50 arrows thrown in the dark could’ve been used to get at least 20 valuable leads of people actually interested in your music.

Less is more? Sometimes, yes. As long as everything that is relevant for the submission, bloggers should be happy. From experience there’s a mysterious artist who always sends me new music, dates, and images without a name or location, which drives me insane, but that is just their atheistic and appeal since day one–also a great marketing approach — let us not forget Radiohead’s online disappearing act, but then again they are Radiohead and can do whatever they want.

This touches on the old saying of “being yourself.” I understand many artists, PR reps, and even bloggers, at times may use aliases at first, but as a personal exhaustion that I must share: if you’ve already disclosed who you are with the blogger, don’t continue to use your alias.

Social Media Links: If you have them, add them at the bottom if it’s not in your signature or EPK. Makes life easier when “tagging” or linking back. Nothing worse than being on a time crunch and trying to double check names, location, or anything else and not being able to find your band (realizing that you don’t even have that social media outlet).

Teaser videos:  As of late I have noticed more teaser videos for EP’s and album releases. I love it and think it’s a brilliant idea. Sometimes you want to put a vast amount of information within the email to lead up to the grand release. I am going to be 100% honest, I skip it and head straight to the link or video (hyprocticial, I know, since I write novels for reviews but will touch on this later). My justification is that it is fair in terms that nothing else is being swayed in the opinion of reviewing and sharing the music. Once I’m listening and intrigued, I begin to read your life story which I genuinely enjoy reading after.

Where do you submit your music?

Submit Hub: IndieShuffle owner Jason Grishkoff  branched off with another brilliant idea to help both bloggers and musicians in a very simple structure of logic that is so clever, it pains me why anyone didn’t think of this before.

Basically, Submit Hub is a watering hole with music blogs, labels, direct contact, and new music. You’re able to submit all at once and find blogs that are serious about sharing new music and the platform even branches into genres. This way it isn’t a stab in the dark if you’re sending a jazz submission to an EDM blog, you will know what type of music submissions they have received, and which ones they are interested in. A great way to get constructive feedback as well even if your submission is denied through the premium submissions option. Yes, you pay a small amount for “credits” but your track goes to the top of the list and guaranteed to get a yes or no answer –which is something scarce these days, especially for the busy music blogger. We’d like to personally give everyone feedback if we had the time!

Same “what to send” applies to this platform. You can link back to EPK’s via dropbox and include all social media links within the main submission.

We’ve tried this before and did love it when it worked for our schedule. Unfortunately, GUM had to stop using SubmitHub for the sheer aspect of time and specific artists we were trying to showcase.

Doesn’t mean we hate it, just means it’s not for us.

Google: It’s the answer to everything, seriously. If you are completely lost, just Google “music blogs” + “location.” Based on Google’s algorithm and relevancy you should get a pretty decent amount of blogs. Start there. See what music they are sharing. Then branch out. Don’t be intimated if a blog has a zillion followers and you think your music isn’t good enough, or get discouraged if a blog doesn’t have that many followers, I mean, sometimes the writing is solid. Hidden gems go both ways.

Similar bands: Look to your fellow peers and see where they got some press love from. It always starts within a community and expands.

Hype Machine: Hype Machine monitors what blogs are writing about and the only way to get your music on this platform is to get a blog associated with HM to share your music. As a blogger who writes essays, this helped expand to those who don’t want to read but just press play. An assortment of blogs come together and anytime that blog publishes a track, it appears on that blog’s profile. Not only does it reach the blog’s fan base, but as well as “recently blogged,” trending, and by genre within Hype Machine’s directory. Music lovers make profiles and easily “heart” their new favorite tracks, thus aiding an artist’s ranking within the sites own algorithm (fancy huh?). You can start there and look at the blog directory and find an assortment of blogs and their genres, while looking for your own specifications. Pretty neat for a blogger, listener, and musician.

Tip: Do not make a blog feel this is the only reason why you reached out, for their Hype Machine association. Makes one feel like a prostitute, a high paying one, but none the less a prostitute.

Should I hire a PR rep?

It’s not so much of if you should hire one, it is when should you hire one. There’s some artists that never have representation and run everything independently. This is amazing, admirable, and very time consuming. As someone who aims to help these artists, down the line this could be a very valuable investment. I’m not saying do this immediately, but as you grow within your craft and are willing to expand to the next level, a PR rep will definitely create a campaign to reach you to your goals. Before it was crucial then DIY came into the realm and as time goes by alongside with technology, there seems to be a need to be somewhat “established” before going to a PR.

Sometimes it is who you know, which is why GUM will continue to stay here for artists who cannot afford a PR rep.

You’ve submitted your music, now what?

Be patient.

People get inpatient, I get it, and life is hectic. Without making excuses and keeping a business ethical side to this next part, please be patient. Personally, I don’t mind reminders at all or even an update request. Yet, if it gets to the point where there’s hostility, believe me that one track will be shared and that is it. I don’t tolerate bullying on any realm especially if it’s trying to help you out.  This isn’t just towards musicians attacking an overworked blogger, I’ve also had to realize that musicians are busy as well when I request an interview and will serve the same amount of patience.

With all of this said, even if you don’t submit your music and just at least share it with the world on a platform, it will eventually be heard. I say this because any music lover will branch out everywhere to discover new music. Just like an artist, a blogger should stick to their own values for music discovery. It’s time consuming but that’s why music bloggers are…music bloggers.

What to do after being rejected?

Keep going. No matter how many rejections you get or lack of responses. Keep going regardless of what musical “scene” you’re apart of, or not. Best thing about music is that it doesn’t expire. If it doesn’t reach now it will reach later as sound travels but you’ll never know if you don’t put it out there — never know with anything unless you put it out there.

If you really want to know, ask the blog why they decided to pass on the track. Sometimes (hopefully more than 50%) a blog will be cool enough to let you know why they didn’t see it as a fit. Learn from them. If they take the time to answer, even if it’s a couple of words, be thankful because there’s about 2k more submissions and not everyone will get a response. Also ask them if you could send future submissions to them. I’ve rejected and accepted tracks from the same artists.

What you shouldn’t do is attack blogs on your social media after being rejected because you didn’t like the responses (yeah, we look). This makes you look like a sore loser. We all lose. We all get criticized. It’s what you do after that moment, which applies to everything you do in life. Maybe it’s the tea talking that leads to philosophical thoughts, but what someone says is their Karma and how you react is your own Karma. Yeah, sometimes responses aren’t as fair or detailed as we would like them, but move on. If you want it bad enough you will find a way.

What about Social Media?

I hate to say this but this is a necessity. Not only for marketing but for people to discover new music. Personally, this is an evil I wish to not be part of but understand its value. Goes back to “be yourself.” Make it your own.

Hashtag Game Strong: #NowPlaying #Instagood #NewMusic #NewMusicFriday #MusicMonday #NightimeTunes ….list goes on. These are basics for you to master as you build each platform. Artists should check out these tags and other tags that stem from the cluster it’s associated with. Might be a couple you can apply to your own posts or may trigger some ideas.

For music junkies: Check out basic tags like this and you will stumble across a few gems that were just shared on social media and nowhere else. Then you can brag how you liked them first when they only had 11 likes #truestory.

Instagram: Music clips match our attention span on Instagram and with trending tags people can discover new music as well as make sure an artist’s music is discovered. This is also one of the easiest platform to just press play and listen without redirecting to another application which is something I think is pure genius.

Instagram’s business profile connects with your Facebook band page (or any professional page, which you should have) and presents a cleaner profile.Not only visually is this appealing, but you have access to the same analytics on a FB Business page. Besides the numbers, IG’s serious revamp and own rebranding have made them extremely important for any artist. Personalize with IG Stories or share those “spammy” flyers in that feed without ruining your IG game.

This may be an artist’s most valuable tool yet when branding themselves and sharing their music. It’s only the first month of 2018 and I’ve already seen a huge push in making Instagram the main hub.

Facebook: You just need one. Remember that everyone doesn’t search for music the same way, you literally need to be on everything, but this is just the basic and standard holy grail for any business, brand, and viral video.

Twitter: Personally, I love Twitter because of its instant communication share, ability to look for anything, and direct to the point appeal within their now, 280 characters. I have found that some musicians don’t really like Twitter and think it’s dead space, BUT there are a lot of music blogs and PR reps on Twitter, as well as fans that go on Twitter to vent about their day, not to mention the trending hashtags that consume Twitter hourly! That’s your audience. Remember not all people will have every social media outlet; they might be pro Twitter and anti-Facebook, but now they are pro “insert your band name here.”

Snap Chat: The Snap of Chat’s. The nude-selfie holding cell. I have no idea how this works other than selfies with filters. It’s a huge success though, based on my research, yet now with Instagram’s constant appeal, this could be used more so for personal use. Doesn’t hurt to have it though–I get giddy when my favorite artists share more than a flyer. BUT this isn’t where I’d go to find music, this is where one goes to stalk you after you establish yourself. #goals

Google Plus: For musicians? I think this is pretty stupid. For listeners? I think this is pretty stupid. It’s more for business and networking on the other side of the fence, such as a music blog or for an individual. Even then, I think this is pretty stupid.

LinkedIn: Individual and professional, but ranks higher than Google Plus. Not a needed platform for a musician (personally speaking since I don’t find new music there), but you can connect on a “business” level. Remember though, it’s still business. Do not blow up someone’s inbox with your mixtape followed by fire emojis because you will be ignored. This is a professional platform that you can build as an individual after you actually start to “build.”

Website: Eventually you will need one, but as the world has deemed, social media trumps a website these days. This is when you already built your social media, have a couple of press statements to share, as well as that lengthy bio that didn’t fit on IG. This is your portfolio. This is your best outfit. But you can’t dress up a non-existent body, because then you are dressing up air…or a ghost. Let’s be realistic, ghosts don’t make music or have websites. Unless you are an emo band from the 2000’s and are doing a 10-15 year reunion tour. #musicbloghumor

YouTube: Dude, why not? If you have material though. As a listener, not a blogger, I’ll look up one song after a deranged clip of stand-up comedy and just trail into the abyss of related tracks. It also can work  if you’re into “Vlogging.” It’s always a treat to see an artist in their own environment and this intimacy of shared vlogs is the equivalent of a personalized message. Find what works for you. There’s also YouTube Red and YouTube Music now which leads to….

mobile-phone-iphone-music-38295

Music Streaming Platforms: Where to be on and where to look besides social media.

Bandcamp: For music discovery, all time favorite platform hands down. Bandcamp’s layout is simple, precise, and is extremely fair. Not only do you get to see what their own staff recommends, small reviews, and what is trending, you get to filter through music based on tags. Completely fair for every musician which gives them an equal opportunity of being heard. I may not share that many embedded players from their site (back in the day Hype Machine didn’t pick up this code, only SoundCloud) but I have found the majority of artists through Bandcamp.

Also noticed most musicians link back to their SoundCloud page for sharing reasons. Could be the look and feel that isn’t appealing from BandCamp, could be SoundCloud’s popularity, but one thing is certain: This is where you can find any artist. Some great hidden gems were found through Bandcamp. You can also support the artist by buying their merch directly from the site. Labels are also here, fans create profiles and collect their favorites, overall a great community to be apart of and the staff’s writing and recommendations are always pure gold.

Soundcloud: This is the second biggest music streaming service.  Regardless, I have a love hate relationship with SoundCloud. When I already have an artist or track in mind, I will come here for sharing purposes (usually redirected from BandCamp). For a musician, please upload your music here. Lots of blogs specifically use SoundCloud, along with their 175 million monthly users. I suggest having Bandcamp and a SoundCloud account- appeal to every user.

As a blogger looking for new music, not really a fan. The Chart section pulls up the tracks with the most plays for the week/ all time. How can you compete with Chance The Rapper? Even when browsing by genre it’s pulling up what “you should” listen to versus options for what “you could” listen to. Their “Discover” section isn’t bad but this is based on your own personal likes. The best way to find new music is through related artists and trickle from track to track. I am a fan of their app, it’s easy to play everything I’ve “hearted,” but once again I come here after I discovered someone already.

Soundcloud Go: Yeah, ads now. This sucks. The mission was to have short, related, discrete ads similar to a “radio PSA”, which they are, but still annoying.

Not to mention only allowing samples uploaded for certain tracks which of course could be waived for a monthly fee. This is extremely irritating as a listener.  From the business side, I know this is to pay royalties but SoundCloud did start on a mission for musicians to build an audience. With other giants in the mix, it seems that this value is depleting. Rumors have always been that major labels have a stake within the streaming platform (Universal, Sony, and Warner) which why certain artists from their “roster” are pushed out more. So many pros, and so many cons when principles meet business.

Words of Wisdom: If you want a blog to share you music and have the “sample” preview, it won’t be shared.

Spotify: Could be one of my favorite apps that I am willing to pay monthly. Surprisingly, Spotify doesn’t pay out the most to artists (Tidal does) but I think the platform may know its value and is waiting for the next move. Ease of access but more importantly the eclectic range of artists that are found here make it one of the easiest places to discover new music. The team curates well-crafted pieces and its appeal reminds me that to the likes on Bandcamp. Yes, there were rumors that Spotify allegedly “made-up” fake artists to be featured, since most of the time it was only one song and no social media presence, but once again as a blogger, this isn’t that far fetched. I’ve come across musicians with nothing but a track. So, who knows? The point is that Spotify has a good mix of a human and algorithm touch when pushing out artists on their charts.

Apple Music: Not really a fan as a listener, blogger, consumer, YET I think this is a must for musicians.

Apple has an image and syncs wonderfully to iPhones, which is the most common device people have nowadays. The appeal would be for exclusivity. The trend as of late has been dropping an album or track on Apple prior to any other platform, especially with bigger, mainstream artists. So, naturally, you want to be where there is a bigger circulation. My only cringe would be their selection. Just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

pexels-photo-459719

Tidal: I only used this to listen to Beyonce’s Lemonade and left pretty quickly. Sorry, it’s not appealing and is an inclusive platform that hasn’t figured out their niche, aside from somewhat mirroring Apple Music. This could also be why they pay out more?

IndieShuffle: Not technically a streaming platform, but this primarily applies to listeners. I love the app and Jason Grishkoff’s constant picks. It’s not only an instant app of the indie blog, but an active assortment of fresh music. For a musician, this is wonderful exposure though. Not only to have a couple of lines shared by the team but to also reach listeners through their app.

Labels: Also, not technically a music streaming platform but I wrote an article that listed how one label with your favorite new artist will lead to a ton more when searching for new music. Also appeals to musicians who are looking for a label; you need to research and find a label that will truly represent your sound based on their current roster. Read more here.

Radio: This appeals more so for listeners. If you truly want to discover new music, I think now radio is the last place to look– this generally applies to commercial radio stations. Fan of NPR radio stations, as well as non-commercial and college radio stations, obviously. You will truly find a great mix of old hits as well as music you’ve never heard before from a college radio station. This is a stepping stone for both an artist and a listener as musical tastes grow.

If you can, try to get on a college radio station. Both sides are trying to learn and it’s a win for everyone.

Podcasts: Touching on that radio vibe, podcasts mirror the non-commercial aspect and gives you control of the sets. Since podcasts require editing, you are sure to find a solid and cohesive flow to one’s set. I see this eventually replacing certain radio stations for the freedom of selection.

Final thoughts on being a musician, artist or generally a human in this world chasing a dream?

 

  • Don’t be a dick.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Try social media; if you can’t do it, hire someone.
  • Be happy.
  • Repeat.

 

 

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