By: AfroMonk (www.afromonk.com)
I’ve decided to put together a piece on the best practices for submitting your music and mixes to blogs. I get hundreds of promos sent to me, thanks to my blog, and I’ll be straight up and say that early on, I would read every e-mail and respond—most of the time. Unfortunately (but really, fortunately), things have picked up quite a bit with the site and I have brought on additional staff to help me pick through all of the promos. Don’t get me wrong—I still peek at what’s sent, but I’m much more critical about what I listen to and how it is presented.
The best piece of advice is know to whom you are sending your music. I can’t tell you how many electro house or tech house submissions I get. These are immediately deleted, because if they were to browse my site at all they would know that I ask not to send that stuff to me. Don’t worry, I’ll get my revenge when I blast them with the promo e-mail I’m putting together. Check out the blog, label, or DJ’s style and overall theme of music. I’m not saying don’t submit something because it’s different, but keep your target in mind. You don’t walk into a job interview completely clueless about the company you’re hoping to work for.
Second, always remember to use BCC when sending emails out! For those who might be unfamiliar with BCC, it stands for “blind carbon copy,” and it’s basically an easy way to hide the names and email addresses of all of your recipients. I can’t tell you how important this is, especially when well-known producers or DJs are on the list and you happen to have their personal email. It’s not a good look to have a giant list of people on there. You’ll want to address each person you contact by name, if possible. This discourages the whole idea of sending a giant, generic e-mail. I’ll be straight up when I get an e-mail that begins with JM or even Afro Monk. I’ll check it out, eventually, because they personally addressed it to me. I use this practice when I use to send out e-mails all day for work and noticed a dramatic increase in responses. If you do send out a massive e-mail, use BCC.
Third, include a description of the music you produce or play. Use genres as well as your own personal description. I don’t know what to expect from a lot of the submissions I receive, so I usually just skip over them, because I don’t know if it’s house, dubstep, hip-hop, etc. You might want to list similar artists that influenced you, if you have to, but give me your take on what you sound like. For the love of God, don’t use the stupid excuse that your music can’t fit under one genre or be neatly labeled. Whenever I hear a producer say that I just think they are lazy, aren’t creative enough to describe their own art, or don’t keep up with music at all. Have fun with it; describe it in such a way that can sell it and make people curious.
Fourth, do NOT, and I mean DO NOT list people you have played alongside. Sure it’s great that you’ve played with big names, but let’s be honest here: it doesn’t mean anything if your music isn’t up to par. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who cares who you’ve played with, they’re only interested in hearing your music, not you looking cocky. Perhaps some people might care, but it’s always an instant “ugh, lame” for me.
Fifth, put some effort into the presentation. Adding images, cover art, links, and more help. It shows that you put time into assembling your promotional package, and that you have passion for what and you’re doing and going the extra mile. Mentioning little details in emails like specific blog posts, particular releases, etc. all show that you really do have an understanding of how the industry works. Hell, just show some passion for your music. That’s what I’m looking for. Those e-mails are usually the ones that have the better quality music or mixes.
Sixth, use ID3 tags properly! You have no idea how many tracks I’ve been sent that have incorrect or incomplete ID3 tags. This frustrates everyone and makes it difficult to promote and post things about you—if it ever gets that far. Also, if you’re sending a mix please include the tracklist! I’m notorious for not including a tracklist but seriously, you’re going to want to include it. If someone sends me a mix and there’s no tracklist I’ll probably skip over it. ID3 helps tremendously. I constantly hear complaints about this from other bloggers and labels.
Finally, include your music! This one is a big one for me. Our job as blogger, A&R, press, or DJ/producer, is to help you and promote your music. If you don’t include downloadable tracks or mixes we can’t do much of anything with it. Sure we could use embed widgets if you’re linking to SoundCloud, but lets be real here. If a blog or any other outlet is going to support you (especially free press) the least you can do is send over your music as payment. If there is no download link, expect me to delete the e-mail. This does mean select your recipients wisely. Any blog/label that is widely recognized or respected should and will not leak your material. I would recommend sending 128kbps versions out, and if the recipient is interested, they’ll ask for a higher-quality version. I assure you that if you send anything to me, it’s not getting out. I have also briefed everyone on my staff about how important it is to keep things to themselves.
I hope these recommendations are useful and informative. Many of them are quite obvious, but sometimes people overlook these common sense points. I can’t even begin to tell you about some of the ridiculous e-mails I get. Other tips I can give include (a) don’t mention other blogs/labels who have liked or approved your stuff, (b) don’t mention how big or famous you are (even if you are), and (c) don’t try to name drop or say, “so-and-so told me they knew you.” Above all, be humble, stay true to yourself, and have a positive attitude.
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