How-to: Digital submissions to music blogs

March 19, 2009


Music bloggers are in the game for love, not for money. We love listening to new music and helping out emerging musicians, and most of us welcome submissions from artists. But the whole ‘doing it for love’ thing also means we trying to listen and write about new music in the interstices of our day job and the rest of our life. Here are some tips to help make it easy on us, which means that we’re more likely to listen and write about what you send.

The farther away your e-mail is from a form letter, the more likely I am to listen to your music. In particular, I can practically guarantee I’ll give it a listen if you say nice things about my blog and can relate your band’s music to my love of Britpop/geeks/overeducated musicians/(insert topic here).

Tell me why I should listen to it. Writing about music may be like dancing about architecture, but it’s the tool you have at your disposal to convince me to spend more time on it. No matter what, you should say something about your music, even if it’s the dreaded ‘we sound like x, y, and z.’

Send me links to individual MP3s – don’t just send me the whole album in one chunk. I’m not going to dedicate the hard drive space or listening time to a whole album from an artist that’s new to me without checking out a bite-sized piece first.

Use logical filenames. It’s your baby, so you don’t need this information. But I do. If I want to find it again, it helps if your fantastic new opus has a more mellifluous title than ‘Track 03.’ At the very least, put the song title into the filename. Note that I also have a new appreciation for band names that don’t start with ‘the.’

On a related note…

Give me good metadata. If I download your song to my computer, I’d like to be able to keep track of it. Make sure all the metadata is in place. Artist, song title, and album, please.

If I’ve gotten this far, there’s a good chance I’ll want to say something about your music. Make it easy for me.

Point me to an electronic press kit. It can be a website, a PDF, a SonicBids page. Anything with a bio and photos I can download (SonicBids disallows right-clicking and saving, which is annoying).

Hosting the MP3s yourself is a nicety (but not a necessity). While I host MP3s for my blog, not everyone is happy using their own storage and bandwidth. If you provide an MP3 link to share, it’s a bit nicer for the blog and it also makes it easier for you to track downloads.

Help me decide what song to post. Tell me if you’d like me to post a particular song, or if I can choose a song I like. If you don’t want me posting any songs, I won’t—but it’ll also make me disinclined to write about you, especially if you aren’t well-known.

Finally, please don’t send me DJ mixes. I don’t care what you do in your bedroom; I only want to hear you live, in front of a crowd. Figure out how to get shows in your area.

This list of tips is a work in progress – I’d love to get feedback, especially if you’re an artist who’s been on the other side of the process.

MP3: Clatter Clatter – Downpour [buy]

Edited to add:

Do not add me to your mailing list without first asking for and receiving permission. There’s a name for unsolicited commercial e-mail:  spam. Cluttering up my inbox will not predispose me kindly to you, to put it mildly.


  1. This is such a smart post. I’m so glad you took the time to write this out. I just hope it finds its way to the right people. Your #2 and #3 items are really big to me. If there isn’t a single word in the e-mail that describes the music, I almost never click through to give them a listen. And likewise, if there’s just a link to a whole album, while nice in it’s own way, as you said, is very detracting if I can’t hear anything to before I download an entire album.

  2. Thanks, Justin! I wrote it up because everything I found about digital submission was from the artist’s perspective, not the bloggers’.

    Please feel free to share it widely!

  3. Yes! The last thing Mike or I want are more physical cds on our shelves. But, definitely bands need to recommend some tracks, and tell us what they sound like. “we’re psycho experimental folk indie rock fusion” doesn’t mean anything to me. Tell me you like Modest Mouse and get over it.

  4. I will be honest here when I say that I am confused by the fact that you’re all like “hey DJ Mixes are a no” and I’m cool with that but then you go all “no bedroom music” and that’s what I DO.

    I mean I don’t have the equipment for super live shows yet. I’m a one man guy. A one man guy that makes electronica.

    difficulties abound D=

  5. Hey, Robert – I feel your pain. By ‘DJ mixes,’ I specifically meant mixing songs by other artists, which is really about the live experience, responding to the audience, as far as I’m concerned. But it sounds like you’re creating original compositions, which is a whole other thing. I don’t tend to review longer-form electronica here, but I’m sure there are other outlets for you. Keep it up!

  6. Really good post man – always good to read it from the bloggers perspective. My band is getting ready to start doing the whole contact bloggers thing, so this is helpful. Some common sense, but many artists seem to lack that, so a well organized post always helps!

  7. Oh.My.God.
    You said ‘give me good meta data’. That is truly awesome. Q-Burns recently did a great post on this subject, comparing his 11 year old niece to a record label – basically saying “c’mon labels, even my niece understands the importance of proper ID3 tags”.

    • Glad you approve, Justin. There’s some neat stuff coming down the pike on this front – check this out, for example.

    • Glad you approve, Justin. There’s some neat stuff coming down the pike on this front – check this out, for example.

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