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Many artists write to ask me how they can get their songs to blogs, DJs, and music companies without breaking the band promo budget. I get it; band budgets are tight and you want to save everywhere you can. You’re willing to put in the time & energy to reach out and follow up with radio stations, music blogs, and labels on your own.

Maybe you’ve read this article by David Wimble (the Indie Bible) advising how to contact music sites. It’s a long read but contains crucially important information, and so I’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down into general guidelines, with an easy-to-reference graphic. Keep in mind, you’ll still want to check with each individual website for the specific instructions before submitting – but the graphic should help you with the basics.

And, of course if you wear yourself out doing all this muckwork, re-check the band fund for spare change and use one of these submission services. They’re much better today than the earlier years of internet music promotion, and pricing usually start at under $15.  Okay, Back to DIY!

music-formats-blog-chart

First Universal rule: Remember this! Never attach an MP3 file to in email unless specifically asked to. Instead, use a download link to your mp3 that also streams the music, like Dropbox or Box.com.

Second Universal Rule: With very few exceptions, sites will almost always accept a streaming link of your music at first. Streams are most convenient for screening your music. However, streams are not always that last step. Many types of sites will need more than just a stream, as you’ll find below & in the graphic.

Use these guidelines for submitting music, depending on What Type of Music Company you are sending to.

Radio Stations

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Preferred vehicle:   Hardcopy CDs

Might accept:          MP3s, EPKs with download links

Can’t use:               Streaming links, Videos

Most radio stations have staff working different hours, with no central digital database to store potential music for the air. CDs are much easier to share and pass around at a radio station.

Usually they prefer to screen your music first – so don’t waste a CD on a station that hasn’t heard you yet. A streaming + download link may be acceptable – but to air your music, the station will eventually need your digital file or hardcopy. Be ready to reply and get the station what they ask for.

Webzines & Blogs

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Preferred vehicle:     Embeddable music player, Videos

Might accept:            CDs, digital press kits

Can’t use:                 MP3s

Bloggers share music in a different way than DJs; they do it digitally, usually with streaming links. Some webzines that do full album reviews prefer the hardcopy CD, but this is getting rarer.

MP3s are of no use to most bloggers – they don’t have the bandwidth to host a database of MP3s.  Streaming links from Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube are so much easier.

Festivals

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Preferred vehicle:   Digital Press kits

Might accept:          CDs, hardcopy press kits

Can’t use:               MP3s

Your digital press kits contains your band’s pertinent info:  Music, Bio, Photos, Links, Press Release information, Short Description.

A festival will need to learn a lot about your band before considering you for a slot. Basically, they need every piece of music marketing material you have.

Record Labels/Producers

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Preferred method:    CDs or press kits

Might accept:            Video or streaming links

Can’t use:                 MP3s

Labels generally prefer to listen to your music first, then request more material if they like you.

It’s best to send your streaming music, then wait. Be ready to send a Hardcopy CD + press kit, or a digital press kit. MP3s aren’t useful, unless the label loads all their music into iTunes, which they don’t.

Venue/Promoter

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Preferred Method:   Digital Press Kit

Might accept:           Live Video

Can’t use:                Streaming link, MP3s, CDs

For venues, it’s more about your band information you provide rather than the music itself. Don’t waste your hardcopy CDs with a venue owner – save it for the merch table!

TV/Film Sync

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Preferred method:       MP3s ( use download link, and properly tagged)

Might accept:              Hardcopy CDs, video

Can’t use:                    Digital press kit

Sync supervisors collect large databases of digital music that they can refer to later. They may use streaming links to weed out the bad stuff, but they’ll still need your fully-tagged digital file for keeping track of who gets paid what in the event of a placement.

Hardcopy CDs may or may not contain the necessary information. A video may be used to judge your “sync-ness.” A digital press kit contains too much irrelevant info for a sync supe.

[This article originally appeared on MusicSubmit.]

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Hate to be a wet blanket, but I stopped sending CD’s when I realized most of it is a scam to make money selling them in lots on Ebay and the like. 234 lots for sale on ebay alone http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR2.TRC1.A0.H0.Xindie+cd+lot.TRS0&_nkw=indie+cd+lot&_sacat=0

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Hate to be a wet blanket, but I stopped sending CD’s when I realized most of it is a scam to make money selling them in lots on Ebay and the like. 234 lots for sale on ebay alone http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR2.TRC1.A0.H0.Xindie+cd+lot.TRS0&_nkw=indie+cd+lot&_sacat=0

  • gemusic

    Thanks, but how do you get past terrestrial radio stations who will only play music when labels pay them to play them. I have tried for decades, only to have everything rejected and many times radio presenters (some top level legends) have admitted they love my music and admit they are perfect for their station style and listeners but do not get to choose what they play as ‘head office chooses only label music who still do payola……

  • gemusic

    Thanks, but how do you get past terrestrial radio stations who will only play music when labels pay them to play them. I have tried for decades, only to have everything rejected and many times radio presenters (some top level legends) have admitted they love my music and admit they are perfect for their station style and listeners but do not get to choose what they play as ‘head office chooses only label music who still do payola……

    • Big commercial radio isn’t going to happen (probably) without a label or connected radio promoter ($$$$$$). So it’s more about starting with local stations that have local segments, community radio, etc.

      Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Spotify.

    • Big commercial radio isn’t going to happen (probably) without a label or connected radio promoter ($$$$$$). So it’s more about starting with local stations that have local segments, community radio, etc.

      Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Spotify.

  • Larry Green

    CD are dead! No one has CD players anymore.The only valid formats are streaming or USB Stick. I was told this by WMG A&R VP.

    • Romina Jones

      I thought so too but still am asked for that when submitting to radio stations: college stations, local ones and or small ones but terrestrial stations. I am sure it will be phased out but worth taking note still in 2017 if someone is radio focused on their submissions.

  • Julian Angel

    The format depends a lot on the music genre. If you submit mp3s or streams to rock/metal blogs and webzines they will most likely be very annoyed. Many bloggers etc. run their blog in their free time and don’t make any money from it. A CD in the mail is the only (and best) reward they ever get for their work. So this will be highly appreciated.

  • gerrydantone

    This is a very useful article. I currently do not have a SoundCloud account but I will want to send links to streams of my tunes to various bloggers and others for review, etc. As a CDBaby and HostBaby customer, I can stream entire songs on my band’s web site, which is easy and what I do. IS there any reason why I should have a SoundCloud account to send links to bloggers when I can send links of my songs from my web site?