Sites & Services

What Artists Should Know About MusicSubmit

MusicSubmit

MusicSubmit is a music submission platform, similar to recently reviewed SubmitHub, but with a broader reach. They too cover music blogs, but their primary focus is online radio.

CEO Michael Corcoran credited me with 25 “Best Shot” submissions to give MusicSubmit a spin.

Best Shot Lite

Now sit back as I share my journey from painful anonymity to online radio glory. Approximately.

Step 1: Create Your EPK

Your music is presented to reviewers in the form of an electronic press kit, commonly known as an EPK. MusicSubmit calls it a Music Press Kit, or MPK. Close enough.

It took me all of 10 minutes to create mine. Fill in some basic info, links to socials, and a bio, upload 1-4 songs and images, and copy/paste an embed code for a YouTube video. If you’ve got a press release, you can add that too. I didn’t, and I’m told most don’t.

Here’s what my completed EPK looks like. See it live here.

Color Theory MPK

Step 2: Get Reviewed

Once you launch your campaign, you’ll receive an email notification each time your music is submitted to a reviewer. The bulk of my submissions went out within two weeks.

To be clear, the “reviewer” is the person who listens to your music. They may be a reviewer for a music blog, as the term implies, or they could be a DJ, music director, etc.

Let’s see what MusicSubmit looks like from a reviewer’s point of view:

reviewer dashboard

Upon logging in, the reviewer is presented a list of recent submissions. Mine is conveniently located at the top of the page. Click through and the first song starts playing automatically.

Color Theory review

After listening for at least 15 seconds, the reviewer can approve, reject, or defer (“maybe”) their decision. When they click approve, a pre-populated letter appears, which they can modify to suit the particular submission.

Color Theory approve

As with SubmitHub, the reviewer receives $0.50 per submission for their time and attention. If they limit their listening to the required 15 seconds per submission, they can earn $120 per hour!

Step 3: Submit Your Music Again

One would think that when a reviewer approves the submission, said reviewer would then proceed to download the songs, photos, and other desired assets from the EPK that’s literally right in front of them. One would be wrong.

In fact, everyone who approved me asked me to send my music to them again, some on CD!

In practice, MusicSubmit is a pre-screening tool. Approval is an invitation to submit directly to the reviewer off-platform.

Step 4: Review Your Results

Here are my results, a month and a half since starting my campaign. Reviewers have 60 days, so more could roll in, but I’m not holding my breath.

results
The Best Shot Lite package promises a 30-50% review rate. Again, “review” just means they listen to at least 15 seconds of the track. I ended up right on target with 44%. Put another way, my submission was ignored by 14 out of 25 reviewers.

My music was accepted by 6 reviewers and rejected by 5. The site won’t show you who did the rejecting, but if you call Michael and ask nicely, he may tell you!

Unlike SubmitHub, MusicSubmit doesn’t require the reviewer to share a reason for their decision. Can we at least get a “you suck” button? 😜

Here are the reviewers who accepted my submission:

Planet Earth Records – From what I can tell, this “station” is just a player on a Geocities-themed website. I can’t get it to play in either Safari or Chrome.

Sophie’s Spring Board Show – Obscure, but legit and sincere. 178 likes on Facebook (6 people talking about). Broadcasts here.

Bear Radio – LGBT 24/7 webcast featuring gay and gay friendly independent artists. The best looking site of the bunch. I somehow made their top 10 requests list:

Bear Radio Top 10 Requests

I’ve never heard of Boys’ Entrance, but they must be pretty good to take the top four slots. Yet they only have 14 monthly listeners on Spotify. The show must not get many requests.

Crisher Entertainment – Looks to me like they’re using MusicSubmit as a vehicle to sell their services. Their acceptance letter says, “After we receive your Press Kit, we’ll follow your career advancement via our contacts in the music industry and social media.” No mention of radio play, and btw you already received my press kit! 😡

The Discover Music Radio Show – A directory of stations, most broadcasting online at 48 kbps! Remember in the early 90s when 128 kbps was marketed as “CD quality”? They’ll get there someday!

Detroit Promo TV – Their website requires Flash, so you know it’s a winner. They sell $25 pop-up ads on their homepage. Are they a radio or TV show? Facebook says TV show. Their Twitter profile, 937 followers strong, is littered with ad sales and sponsorship requests.

Who is MusicSubmit good for?

With the possible exception of Bear Radio, my 6 acceptances are unlikely to move the needle in any measurable way. Their acceptance letters are the same types of solicitations I receive by email and Twitter DM on a daily basis, and for the most part, choose to ignore.

There was a time when I would pursue and follow up on every lead, however small, because “you never know.” And it’s true – you never know, but there are far more marketing opportunities online than one person could ever hope to pursue.

MusicSubmit’s roster for electronic music is extremely limited at this point. Normally submissions are split between radio and blogs about 70/30. In my case, all but one was radio.

If you make rock, hard rock, alternative indie, singer-songwriter, or Americana/folk, you’ll likely have better luck. 300 “Best Shot” submissions in those genres cost $150, with a 20-40% review rate.

MusicSubmit is a perfect fit for rookie artists looking to build up a press portfolio. Established artists should scan through this sampling of stations and blogs and decide if it’s worth the effort. SubmitHub is a better bet for pitching to popular blogs, and particularly for charting on Hype Machine.

Have you tried MusicSubmit? Share your thoughts and results in the comments!

Update 1/23/17

After my review went live last August, CEO Michael Corcoran offered to submit my music to sites in Alternative and Pop rather than Electronic and Dance. My music doesn’t fit neatly into either set of genres, and their roster of Alternative and Pop outlets is stronger.

So, seven months in the making, here are my final, final results:

MusicSubmit final results

The later batches of submissions brought five new acceptances:

The Mess Hall – A show hosted by Seraya Young on 100.3 FM community radio in Australia. Looks like the name of the show changed to Bay Drive at some point.

INDIE104 iRADIO LA – Named Best Internet Station of the Year in 2006, 2007, and 2008 at the Annual New Music Awards in Hollywood, according to their about page. Never heard of ’em. The site also features a submit page where you can send them your music for a small fee, which I never recommend doing.

Sonic Breakfast – The reviewer later clarified that he may or may not actually review the stuff he approves. In fact, he sometimes forgets why he accepts some things in the first place. My song appears to have fallen into that category.

Music Zeitgeist – This music blog posted a full artist profile on me. It’s basically a cut-and-paste of my bio, but still, it’s a prominent feature with a SoundCloud playlist embedded. Much appreciated!

Burning Flame – Another blog feature, this time just a short paragraph of bio and links to my socials. An audio embed would have been nice, but I’ll take what I can get.

The total cost for all submissions would’ve been about $56. Sounds like a bargain to me! If your music doesn’t fall through the cracks genre-wise, you’ll likely see much better results.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Alien Skin (@alienskinmusic)
    August 1, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you Brian, I appreciate you evaluating these services, spending your own money on them and reporting back to us. It gives us a fair indication of where we too may end up on the food chain with them. We are all welcome to test the waters as well of course, but we now have a solid idea of what we are possibly up against from the get go. Like sending in a canary first, down a mine, to ensure there’s no lethal gases:)

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      August 1, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      No lethal gasses here! But to be fair, I didn’t have to pay for this one. I would’ve though, since it was only $25!

  • Reply
    LILOU & JOHN (@LilouandJohn)
    August 18, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    We can most definately live without the “you suck” comments even if they helped us reconsider our approach.

    • Reply
      donsolare
      September 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      I gather all “you suck” comments and will print them on gold – such as “The guitar’s all right John, but you’ll never make a living out of it”

  • Reply
    Richard Scott
    September 10, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I am a fairly new country recording artist. With that being said, I wanted to use music submit to get a little exposure
    Is it worth using them or better off looking else where. Please give me so feed back it would be very appreciated. Whats a good package to go with If I go with them to start out. Thank You Richard Scott

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      September 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Richard,

      My only experience is what I’ve shared in the article. My guess is that you will do a lot better with country, and the price is right!

      I think it could very well be a useful part of a broader promotional effort, but by itself it’s unlikely to move the needle.

  • Reply
    Laura Luft
    November 25, 2016 at 6:58 am

    This is definitely the most useful summary of how it all works that I’ve been able to find.. I assume it’s OK to hyperlink here as a musician tool? Thanks.

  • Reply
    Phyllis Domingue
    January 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Thank you, very much, for the information and your insight.

  • Reply
    Brian
    February 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    My friend, I am continually moved by your investigation and sharing of all of this. Thank you so much. For an unknown artist, who abdicated huge dreams a way back, this aids me continually. And who is to say I’m not still secretly pining to sneak onto an indie film or a melancholy TV show scene. Here’s to trying!

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 11, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      It’s my pleasure Brian! Glad to hear you find it useful.

  • Reply
    Abby K
    February 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience Brian! Yeah to the obscure little guys who make great music. 🙂

  • Reply
    Team Clermont (@TeamClermont)
    April 24, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Brian, (first off apologies but I felt I’d offer a thorough thoughtful comment)

    Once again you’ve done a thorough job of researching something for the independent musician or indie band. Likewise, startup indie labels could learn something as well I believe.
    I think unsigned artists could benefit by seeing this type of service put under a microscope of sorts. Some will be legitimate, some maybe not.

    As for this service specifically I must disclose that @teamclermont has actually received referral business from indie bands reading one of the CEO’s articles which mentions our PR firm and thus hiring our team.

    I love the idea of an “automated” pr campaign or radio promotion campaign; I’ve spent years while at Team Clermont trying to devise a legitimate way to do such a thing ourselves. When it comes down to it, these are two different types of service (which you corectly mention in your article) and thus cannot be accomplished with any level of integrity or thoroughness.

    I applaud driven CEO’s like Michael at Musicsubmit; his service however is exactly as you put it, a low cost “pre-screening tool. Approval is an invitation to submit” music to those stations or media outlets after that screening has happened. Yes, it’s low cost, and yes it can work on a limited basis for a genre that just happens to fall in line with the service’s ‘top notch reviewers.”

    The other type of service, which this is not, is a traditional PR firm where relationships with writer or radio MD”s over time is what a label or band pays for. Those relationships are what get doors opened for the 15 second review or the whole album to be reviewed. A PR firm also “screens” music in a way as well; it’s just not in the way some muscians want to hear it. A true PR firm with integrity and who is repsected by it’s contacts in the industry must screen the music that comes in its doors, and that is done personally by humans who’ve spent years in music and years learning what each outlet seems to respond well to.

    In addition a PR firm that has taken on an artist’s music and believes in it, then puts its reputation on the line by getting behind it. That pr firm also has an idea of which of it’s outlets are best suited for that particular record. Not only that the publicists and promoters at the firm personally get on the phone with the MD’s, writers, freelancers, and decision makers to specifially discuss and promote that album to them. There is truly a personalized, hands-on, curated service being aquired when one retains a publicist or radio promoter. In addition to this one on one service a newer artist may then be associated with previous successful artists on that publicist’s roster and may even have their package/music listened to more quickly because of the track record of that company bringing each writer or MD many years of quality artists and releases. The cost of most radio promotion campaigns in the US to college and / or NPR – public radio is anywhere from $1800 to $2800 for a full campaign with reports each week for 6 to 8 weeks.

    I added up the rates of a Musicsubmit-type site and found the rate comparison to be different but actually fairly close (half of or 1/3 of) when considering the leve of service from PR firms.

    Traditional Radio Promotion Team: # of stations =1000-1200, 6-8 weeks, $2400avg. targetted
    Submitted Radio screening site: # of stations = 1200,(3 x 400)= 3 x $200 = $600, not targetted.
    (then an artist still needs to actually service their music/disc to each of those outlets or hire an indie pr firm or indie radio promotion company to do that. back to traditional pr & promo)

    Traditional PR team: # of media outlets serviced: 4,000-10,000. cost $3,000/month
    Submitted screening site (MusicSubmit): 4,000 outlets = $1000, 10,000 outlets= $2,500.
    (again, an artist needs to then actually service their music to each of those outlets or hire an indie pr firm or indie radio promotion company to do that. hence, back to traditional pr & promo).

    Obviously there is a difference in the budget an artist or small label will have to consider, and I leave it up to anyone reading to do that for themselves; plan a budget, plan fundraising, schedule a release far enough in advance to schedule all that one wants to accomplish, and once the money is saved or budgeted, decide what channel or avenue works best for you and for your own music, and career. It’s not rocket science, but as with anything worth spending your life working for it can pay off to do some homework, read, inquire, and do exactly what you are doing by reading this article.

    Best to all hard working musicians out there, writers, MD’s and all who fight to make a life in music.
    – cheers, nelson wells, http://teamclermont.com

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      April 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful response Nelson! You’ve drawn a stark but fair contrast between automated and professional PR.

      I’ve always wondered how I’d fare with a pro, but I don’t think my potential audience is large enough to justify it. I spent $4000 on radio promotion way back at the turn of the century, and it was a complete and utter waste of time and money. That said, I’m sure any reputable PR firm wouldn’t take on the project if they didn’t think it had genuine potential.

      At this point, my focus is on pleasing my fans on Patreon. I’ve spent over 20 years trying to acquire new fans, and while I never want to stop growing, I think I’ve reached a point where it’s best to turn my attention inward.

      Still, for a new act with broad appeal, quality material, and a promotion budget, professional PR seems like a great way to jumpstart a career.

  • Reply
    wibby white
    May 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    I really dont understand the motives behind these smaller comapnies who want to service indie artist. Either you can or cannot do a service. Price has no factor, meaning you only create a company if you think you can provide a service to people that no one will, or if you can do a more effective job at doing so while turning a profit for much less. You dont start a company boasting that your prices are 75% more affordable for a service that can only be 40% provided. I do believe many consumers have different endless possibilties, Nevertheless i am delighted to hear about other indie artist testimonies. As indie Artist and professional musicians, i believe that we can do without the basic courses in the music industry, and lean more toward your innovations and contributions to transform this shady industry.

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