5 tips for artists & publicists submitting music

by W. Andrew Powell
Music Submission

Every day, I listen to a lot of music. On average, I get anywhere from 20 to 50 songs a day from artists across Canada and around the world. So what does it take for a song to catch my ear?

There are a lot of factors that can make a submission stand out, and since I get sent so much music, I thought I’d offer a few tips to try and help artists and publicists pitching their music.

I can’t speak for every outlet, but these are the things I would suggest considering before you submit your next track.

When you’re ready to submit a song, you can send in your track on Music Submissions.

Music, arrangement, mix, and style

I accept a lot of genres, but no matter what kind of music I’m listening to, my feedback is often the same when it comes to tracks: polish, polish, polish.

You need to be at the top of your game when it comes to the track you submit. From the lyrics and the arrangement, to the mix, vocals, and everything in between. What you submit should be your best work.

I only accept about 10% of the tracks I’m sent to feature, and that’s partly because I only have so much time in a day to write about music, so I’m generally only picking the most unique songs.

Well over half of the tracks I reject need to improve either the vocals, the lyrics, or come up with an arrangement that hooks the listener in the first 15 seconds. If you can’t hook the listener by 15 seconds, it’s even harder to keep them hooked at 30 seconds.

First impressions

Like all things, great first impressions go a long way, and with any music pitch, you’re probably introducing yourself to someone who could become your biggest fan.

Take the time to line up everything you need for a great first impression when you’re submitting music. That should include a professionally written biography, at least one great photo, album art, and ideally a press release or note about the single you’re submitting.

I also look for artists who have active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To me those are the big three ways to reach fans, and while it’s a lot of work, great artists use social media to share their work and passion for music.

And one other thing: spellcheck and proofread that submission at least three times. If you can, have someone else double check it for you too. It’s harder to take an artist seriously if they make mistakes in their submissions.

Find your audience

It can be tempting to blast out your music to anyone who will listen, but when you’re submitting, try to get a sense for who you’re asking to listen to your last song.

If I’m a writer covering pop and folk, and you’re an alternative rocker, your submission is likely not going to go over well. If you really feel the need to submit to someone who may not cover your genre though, at least give them a reason to listen. Don’t make things up, but suggest a creative angle that may interest them.

That said, researching where you want to submit music is half the work, and it will pay off if you find the people who want to hear more of your style.

Wow factor

As a bonus, try to have something that will wow them in your submission. Does the photo pop? Is there a riff in the track that’s going to blow their mind? Did you learn to play the guitar from a legend? It never hurts to have an angle when you submit a song. Just make sure you call it out at the right spot in your pitch.

A good publicist can help you hone your angle too, and it can be very important. Ultimately, that angle could also be the way an audience first connects with you before they even hear your music.

Listen to feedback

This is not always possible, but if you get the ear of a journalist, blogger, or music industry professional, you should try to listen to their feedback.

Feedback can help you grow, adapt your pitches, or figure things out.

You can choose to ignore their advice, or maybe you will find it immediately useful, but regardless of what they say, take it with a grain of salt and see how you can adapt. You can’t please everyone, but some advice could change your career.

I know a singer who was focused on folk music for a number of years, but she wasn’t getting very far. When someone suggested she try country music, it was ultimately the decision that helped ignite her career.

Now go submit your music

We’ve launched our new music submissions page to accept songs through the website. Times have changed, and this is how The GATE is adapting. We’re going to accept as many tracks for features and sharing from our own system first.

We also love finding new artists through SubmitHub too. The platform accepts submissions to an incredible assortment of journalists, bloggers, and music outlets around the world, covering every style of music.

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