In the few years I’ve been in the music industry I’ve had my foot in different areas: marketing & PR, licensing, artist management and, the latest, publishing.
As an artist manager I’ve dealt a lot with independent musicians with all kinds of experience and, now in publishing, I very often go through several submissions from bands, producers, songwriters and all kinds of artists seeking a deal. Or at least that’s what you’d think from seeing them contact a music publisher.
However, many of these emails come with little or no information like the basic: who are you and what do you want?
I meant to have written this a while ago after meeting one too many bands who needed guidance. A LOT of guidance! But there are so many of these articles around in more popular websites, that I thought I’d focus on other areas…looks like people haven’t been doing their homework though so I thought I’d offer a word of advice.
Based on a large number of artists I’ve come across in the past few years, here are some tips that are way overdue. Some seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised with what people think is an acceptable submission! (Ps: this is a HELPING guide! No offence intended.)
- who are you and what do you want?
When sending your music to a label, it’s very likely that you want a record deal. However, it might be that you’ve got a finished, mixed and mastered album and all you want is to license it for a well-connected label to release.
With publishing, it might be that you are a songwriter wanting to sell your songs to more popular performers, or maybe you’re a composer, a producer. Let them know who you are and what it is that you want. I’ve lost track of how many times I had to guess!
- SoundCloud. SOUNDCLOUD!
One of the biggest faux pas in music submission is to attach a heavy file to an email, especially nowadays when a streaming link is so easy to share! But still, please don’t send dodgy links. It’s likely people won’t even open them in fear of downloading a virus. There’s nothing wrong with Soundcloud (at least not for now!): it’s easy to use, pretty simple and basically the industry standard. If you’re not very techy, I’m sure you have a friend who is.
Don’t forget to label your tracks accordingly and have some kind of decent artwork, even if it’s a photo you took of the park with your name + album/track title. Please avoid Comic Sans =) There are several apps/websites that can help you with that too (ie. Canva).
Overall, make sure your page is tidy, organised and everything is easily identifiable (including links to your website + social profiles)
- Speaking of song submission…one track might be all it takes, but it’s probably also not enough. Try to put together a collection of around 4 to 5 songs so people can get an idea of how you sound like.
- Text: keep it simple but thorough. A few words about who you are, where you’re based and all your social links. Try to avoid attachments (ie. release). Just a paragraph with the key info is enough.
- Recordings: if you’re a songwriter who can’t sing, it’s a good idea to find someone who can…you might have the world’s most beautiful songs, but it’ll be hard to hear it if it sounds like a drunk karaoke singer.
- Unfortunately, social numbers are important…make sure you have all relevant social profiles (Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram. YouTube) and that you update it fairly regularly. The aim is to show you’ve been busy – not taking a million mirror selfies, but doing something music-related: composing, recording, playing, even seeing some live gigs! – great opportunity to support your local live scene, make new connections and create some content.
There’s a lot more to music submission and general approaching of music executives and we’ll bring you more tips over the next few weeks.
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Word of advice:
“Making unsolicited approaches to A&Rs doesn’t work these days…Most of the time A&Rs will turn to their trusted sources, be that writers, artist management companies or other connections they’ve built up. Otherwise, they just get bombarded.” – Jon Skinner, Music Gateway
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