SubmitHub

What Artists Should Know About SubmitHub

In March of 2016, I published what quickly became my most popular post: These 59 Music Blogs Will Listen to Your Song, Guaranteed.

Four years later it’s up to 1100+, and also includes radio stations, YouTube and Twitch channels, Spotify playlisters, and Instagram influencers.

Jason Grishkoff, the founder of SubmitHub, walked me through the submission process for my latest single on a two-hour call. Along the way, he provided loads of helpful tips to maximize results while minimizing budget.

Credits

After uploading your song, the first step in the submission process is selecting what type of credit you’d like to use.

Premium credits cost about $1, with discounts for buying in bulk. I usually go for 100 credits for $80 ($0.80 each).

Be sure to check for coupons by clicking the “Add Coupon” button!

Everyone gets a “save10” coupon when they sign up, and I recently took advantage of the “covid19” coupon for 19% off, bringing my cost down to $0.63 per credit.

Curators charge 1-3 credits per submission and earn $0.50 each. To collect, they need to listen to at least 20 seconds of the song and make a decision within 48 hours. If they reject it, and most will, they need to explain why.

That seems entirely reasonable to me, but several commenters on my earlier post called it a scam.

Some argue that it’s a form of pay-to-play, arguing that artists should never pay for exposure (I suppose hiring a PR company is out).

But you’re not paying for exposure — you’re paying for a few minutes of someone’s time who would otherwise be too overwhelmed with submissions to listen to yours.

Most curators charge one credit and average listening time is two minutes per track. That’s $15 per hour, without factoring in the necessary back-and-forth communication around approved tracks or actual content creation.

Again, that seems entirely reasonable to me. There are plenty of safeguards in place to ensure that curators aren’t taking advantage of artists, from active policing of bad actors to user reviews.

If you’re not convinced, you can always use Standard credits, which are completely free. You get two credits every four hours, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a response.

As you’d guess, the approval rate is significantly lower at 5% vs 12% for Premium credits.

Feedback

Next up, you select whether or not you want written feedback, and how important it is to you.

Curator feedback is occasionally useful, but most of the time it’s not. It may not even make sense, as English may not be the curator’s first language.

At this point, I stopped writing so that I could scan my feedback for a couple examples of comedy gold, but there weren’t any! The quality of feedback has improved dramatically over the past few years.

Instead, you’ll have to settle for a couple of my favorite declines:

If you’re thin-skinned, you might think the ego-saving option of forcing curators to listen for 90 seconds is the way to go, but Jason explained why that’s not the case.

A curator can easily have another window open for email, or just mess around on their phone while the 90 seconds tick down.

On the other hand, if a curator knows they need to explain their reasoning, they listen more intently.

The proof is in the stats. “It’s quite important” has a 12% approval rate, “Not that important” 11%, and “at least 90 seconds” a mere 5%.

Select “It’s quite important.”

Genres & Filters

Then you’re confronted by a rather intimidating screen. First, select up to three genres.

Then scroll down and deselect SoundCloud, Radio, and On Twitch unless you have a good reason not to.

There are a bunch of additional filters you can use to narrow down the number of outlets into something manageable.

When you’re done, select “Genre match: high to low” at the top of the screen.

Curating the curators

Here’s an example that I marked up, for a blog that also has a Spotify playlist.

Working through my highlights left to right, top to bottom:

A single $ means that they charge 1 credit.

The speech bubble with a heart icon means that the blog is listed on Hype Machine.

The Really Good Blogger designation means that they write original content rather than just copy/pasting your press release.

Be sure to check the approved percentage! If it’s less than 1%, you might want to save your money. If it’s over 30%, it doesn’t count for placement in SubmitHub’s popular charts. Really Good Blogger approvals count double!

Every week I check the Synthwave/Vaporwave chart for additions to my playlist. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The Quick Facts section, coupled with average Spotify plays, likely has most of the info you’ll probably need to make a decision. Still, I recommend clicking the name of the outlet to get to their profile page.

There you’ll have access to even more stats, their curator settings, and a rundown of their playlists and growth:

On the settings page, you can see their approval rating by genre, which goes a long way toward determining if your track is a match.

Even better, take a listen to some of their recent shares:

Working through all your matches like this can easily take up an entire afternoon! That is, unless a curator has already made the decision for you. 😭

Once Genre Match gets below 4, Jason recommends sorting by something else. I’m usually out of credits by then.

My SubmitHub results

I pitched my song “Juggernaut” over the course of three campaigns.

Why three campaigns? I confess that I didn’t exactly follow Jason’s advice on thrift.

Compared to what I’ve been paying for Facebook ads and a PR company, spending a couple bucks per submission is an incredible bargain. My policy has always been “when in doubt, submit!”

The first campaign was the one I started on the call with Jason. The second was in response to an email alerting me that a curator who was “taking a break” was now accepting submissions. The third was created after 48 hours when the first expired, and included resubmissions to outlets that didn’t respond. I selected three different genres to pull up anything I might’ve missed the first time around.

In total, I spent 123 credits, which would cost $98.40 without a coupon at the 100 credits rate.

I submitted to 98 outlets and received 75 decisions, 8 of them approvals.

That’s five playlist adds (including one not mentioned above), four blog posts, two Instagram stories, a SoundCloud repost, and a YouTube channel feature.

Was it worth it? Hell yeah! 🙌🏻

Looking back at my SubmitHub history, it seems my overzealousness didn’t pay off. In the past I’ve gotten similar results submitting to half as many curators.

Should you try SubmitHub?

Absolutely. It’s cheap, transparent, and fair to both parties.

If you’re considering spending a few hundred dollars on a Spotify PR company like Playlist Push, test the waters with SubmitHub first. You’ll likely reach many of the same curators!

What’s your experience been with SubmitHub? Share your thoughts, strategies, and wild conspiracy theories in the comments!

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Brian Hazard

Brian Hazard

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42 Responses

  1. Hi Brian! I have used Submithub for 7 tracks so far and not got a single positive response out of it!! I still do it, as it is cost effective, but it seems to be sometimes like the curators may like a song generally but their criteria is near impossible to meet as there is always a ‘but’ in it. When I read a generally nice review that says they like elements and then comes the BUT, I just think ‘come on guys, give people a chance, your listeners may really like it!!!’.

    Personally, I feel like many curators consider themselves to hold all the power and are proud to be the new gatekeepers who can make or break artists, and so they are hyper-picky. That’s just my thoughts – I don’t believe my music is so bad that no one in the world could possibly like it (it’s singer/songwriter, indie-pop- perhaps my genre is the most over-subscribed and therefore I am at a disadvantage??) but when you get nothing but ‘no’s’ from sites like SubmitHub you are start to feel like you are truly the worst artist in the universe!!! This really knocks your confidence and you think ‘well, if I can’t even get on one list, why am I still doing this?’.

    I think we have to remember that these curators are not necessarily music experts – many of them are simply fans like you and I – and therefore, although they have got themselves in a position where they do hold the key to accessing more listeners, their taste and their decisions are not really that important at the end of the day, and we should be seeking our true fans via other methods.

    I am still working through the Fans on Demand and Fan Finder courses (all found thanks to your articles!!!), and the more I go through courses like this the more I understand that I shouldn’t be chasing numbers/stats but real people who will genuinely love what I do, and that it is quality over quantity when it comes to listeners!

    Stay safe x

    1. It’s really, really competitive. You’re fighting for attention against not just other indies, but majors.

      While I’m not a SubmitHub curator, I curated for Playlist Push for awhile, and I get at least a dozen submissions for my playlist on social media every week.

      The way I see it, my job is to make the best playlist I can — something that I would truly enjoy as a listener. If I can’t use my own taste as a guideline, how else do I decide?

      I can’t just give everything a chance because some people might like it. If they don’t, I lose followers, and I have a weaker platform to offer to the artists that I really believe in.

      Anyway, just playing devil’s advocate here. I appreciate that curators try to let me down easy for the most part, by pointing out something they like. Yeah, it can feel a bit phony and formulaic, but it beats a flat “no.”

      What really rubs me the wrong way is when they say “keep trying.” I try to assume positive intent, but it feels so condescending.

      Like you said, you don’t have to go this route at all! You can build your music career entirely direct to fan.

  2. I’m a new Submithub curator for my urban edm playlist (2500 followers/ 500 listeners) and I’m astonished by the amount of submissions I recieve that don’t fit my playlist in the slightest bit! Please guys, if you use Submithub, don’t just waste money but research the curators thoroughly..

    1. So far I’ve been accepting submissions to my playlist wherever they come from, mostly DMs. I’m worried I’ll need to switch over to SubmitHub or simply stop accepting them soon. And yeah, half aren’t even close. It says “vocal synthwave” right there in the title. If someone doesn’t know what those two words mean, they have no business demanding my time.

  3. Submithub sucks, stop paying for fake promotions…invest your money in your live performance and get REAL fans that will love your music/vibe. The feedback they provide on Submithub is all opinions.

    1. Matt, the promotion is genuine. You can look up all my results and see for yourself.

      Of course the feedback is all opinions. What else could it be?

      If you’re going to claim “fake,” you need to do a better job defending your position.

    2. Hey Matt, there is alot of payola in the music industry but certainly not on Submithub, I don’t really get why you are attacking Brian on this… he is just commenting on Submithub’s features and results..

    3. “Attack”

      verb
      take aggressive action against (a place or enemy forces) with weapons or armed force, typically in a battle or war.

      noun
      an aggressive and violent action against a person or place.
      “he was killed in an attack on a checkpoint”

  4. I agree with Brian Matt – I am a curator and genuinely looking for music to keep my playlist fresh.But it needs to fit and it needs to be an amazing track.

  5. Frame – as you are a curator, in the interest of this debate – I would like to hear your insider perspective in a little more detail please. When you say ‘amazing track’ are you talking in terms of production, songwriting or vocal performance as many indie artists may have great songs but not polished due to financial restraints and lack of resources. Do curators expect perfect tracks that could compete with the big name artists, because isn’t the point of SubmitHub to discover new artists (and perhaps be the first to do so)?

    I have heard of many unsigned and unknown artists who also struggle to get added by curators and when I hear their music I can honestly say it is head and shoulders above some of the stuff the majors are releasing – there are way too many impressive and talented indie artists out there who will sadly never get heard and whose gifts are truly being wasted. Curators could really help in this area by perhaps relaxing their attitude that something has to absolutely stellar.

    We all know the stories of huge artists who were turned away by record execs for being rubbish but then become loved the world over by music fans. I am not saying to lower your standards and just add any old tat – but if a song ticks the boxes of production, songwriting and vocals from 7/10 and up – isn’t it worth testing them with your listeners even if you don’t feel they are 10/10?

    Personally, the 7 tracks I submitted are all fairly different – ranging from singer-songwriter and indie-rock to dance pop and ballad. They have been done professionally and generally the comments I have had say that vocal performance, production and songwriting are all decent, and yet, not one of them has resonated with a curator and there is always a ‘but’ – often not even a logical ‘but’. I deliberately tried campaigns for all of them because I wanted to see if any one type would fare better. To this end, from my experience, I just find that curators have impossibly high standards.

    Would you be willing to listen to even just 10 seconds of the choruses of a couple of my tracks to confirm either that indeed curators find me ‘rubbish’ because I am just deluded – OR if the number of submissions and competition is simply too fierce and that curators make is neigh on impossible to be heard because they are looking for some form of ‘perfection’? I know this might be fruitless as your genre is EDM and mine is more mainstream – but perhaps you might still be able to offer some kind of insight – perhaps regarding production quality that curators are seeking?

    This is NOT me trying to get promote myself (that is really not my style and perhaps this level of insecurity and not being pushy enough with my music is to my detriment?!) – I am genuinely at a loss as to why my strike rate is so abysmal and I think some of Brian’s regular readers might also be curious to see what’s what having had similar experiences themselves.

    Cheers!

    1. Hey Apostolo, first thing you have to know is that the music industry is tough. Very tough. For every yes, there are a hunderd No’s. I’ve released with labels, supported by big DJs, toured a bit but the amount of No’s you have to face before you get there is astonishing. And after I guess I recieve even more No’s because I’m working more independent.

      That’s why it best to have a system, to constantly improve, network, and build up a dedicated fanbase – even if it’s just a small amount of people.

      “but if a song ticks the boxes of production, songwriting and vocals from 7/10 and up – isn’t it worth testing them with your listeners even if you don’t feel they are 10/10?”

      Let me comment on that. That’s just not how the psychology of music works. A track needs to grab you by the gut and deliver a powerful emotion. That’s what music does – and that is where everyone is looking for.
      Producers, songwriters (including myself) always think that a song deserves recognition if its well made, ticks all the boxes and introduces something new. BUT THATS NOT HOW IT WORKS!! Music is EMOTION and must STRIKE the listener.

      You say you released songs in different genres – thats a huge red flag and a big mistake. You should try to find your own sound, experiment with it, find out what people like about it. check what emotion it displays and then start pumping out tracks like crazy, each of them being a little different. Also, study other music, dance on the ‘best’ music then dance on your music – is the energy as good, does it feel as easy to dance to? Take songwriter classes, take production classes. Do you know Ed Sheeran says himself he first released a floodwave or horrible songs before he eventually got to write those hits?

      ‘I can honestly say it is head and shoulders above some of the stuff the majors are releasing’
      For me the chance that I like an submithub song is as big as I like a major label song. To be blunt: 95% of what the majors release I think is shitty.

    2. This is an incredibly important point. It’s not too difficult to write “b-sides”; that is, songs that are merely “pretty good” (within your genre). These songs check all the boxes – good chord progression, melody, rhythm, production, etc etc – they’re good songs. It’s VERY difficult to write “a-sides”; that is, songs that are “really good” and will resonate, or strike a chord (no pun intended), with your intended audience. And the line between a-sides and b-sides is very thin (and taste-dependent and often hard to define). Sometimes the artists themselves aren’t quite sure whether a particular song is an a-side or a b-side – that’s where producers, managers, etc come in. (And sometimes the latter don’t know either… lots of subjectivity, obviously.)

      In the Metallica documentary from several years back, Lars Ulrich would describe songs as “stock,” as in, “Yeah, that’s a good song but it sounds kind of stock.” What he meant was the song was good – it had the Metallica stamp, folks would like it, but… it didn’t resonate; there was something undefineable missing. Out of 50 songs they recorded, 10 (I believe) made in on whatever record they were making. I’m sure those other songs were pretty decent… but they weren’t (in the band’s eyes) a-sides. (I’m only a passing Metallica fan; I don’t know a lot about them and I’m not much into metal. But that notion of “stock” songs stayed with me.)

      Unfortunately, the way the music business works… only a-sides matter. And with the exception of the “hit machine” song writers (who write all the schlock for many of the most popular artists – they write songs like it’s paint-by-numbers), it’s hard to set out to write an a-side… I think it just kind of happens (when it does, that is); for 99%+ of artists, of course, it never happens. And that’s just the way it is.

    3. I can definitely relate to the idea of a “stock” song. As you describe, there’s nothing really wrong with it, which makes it hard for curators to give a satisfying reason why they turned it down. On paper, it could be a perfect song, yet it lacks soul.

    4. Spot on comment.

      I would add to that the industry (especially dance and edm) revolves alot around releasing the same type of song everytime. Also because big industry players can make a profit out of it everytime or just a small loss. And because the audience at festivals and at Spotify playlists will love it and they dont really care.

      This confuses artists who think that they have to make a song that ‘ticks all the boxes’. In dance music you have a whole generation of artists that do this and focus way to much on it – usually to get a record deal, but in the end they don’t come far because they don’t have their own identity or become super-dependent on that record deal for everything.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to reply… I am still non-the-wiser on why I am not getting any joy on SubmitHub, but thankfully we Indies have the Brians of the world to educate and evolve us through the myriad of options out there to find the ones that fit. And dear Brian often steps on the landmines of the industry so we don’t have to!!!!

    1. Thank you! As it is your professional time and energy I will go through the official channel, but I cannot search curators to submit to – do you have a way/link that I could do that via the site?? In regards to genre – the tracks are not miles apart – more like say, Pink for example would have. She is generally mainstream but some tracks lean more towards rock-pop and others more dance-pop, then there are her more raw singer/songwriter or country offerings. Genres are so hard to define nowadays!!

    2. Thanks, I did it – 2 diff tracks for this experiment that will hopefully prove useful for others on this page!!! You can tell me if they are so awful that no one could ever want to add them or if I have just been unlucky so far!!!

    3. You are just about the only person out there not seeking to extract money from Indies by trying to sell them this or that magic method to make it. You share your knowledge and experiences more as a community service and that doesn’t go unappreciated by all who read your stuff. I promise that if I ever make it to the status that I was given an award, you would be one of the first people I would thank on that stage!!!

    4. Just want to reinforce what Frame is saying about genre, because it’s so important!

      I remember one of my sync contacts years ago was always giving me the advice to follow up with everyone who was pitching my music, and ask what was working, and specifically “what can I give you more of?” It was never about trying something different, just iterating on little successes.

      So find something that works for you that you can build from, and keep at it so the world knows that it’s you in the first five seconds.

  7. Thanks for this amazing article but after so many times i’ve tried with Submit Hub it’s so frustrating paid to get rejected and the only fews i’ve got picked wasn’t big enough in streams or exposure, so do not waste your money on this.

    1. I can relate to that frustration! As for the exposure not being substantial enough, keep your eye on each curator’s Influence score. Usually the more influence a curator has, the more selective they are, so it’s a double-edged sword.

  8. So, Frame listened to two of my tracks that are a bit diff in style (one singer-songwriter and one dance pop) and he said there is nothing wrong with either tracks – they are well produced etc so he doesn’t see why they are not getting picked up on SubmitHub other than I am labelling them as in the same genres as some very big, successful female artists that I could never compete with, which means I need to be offering something more – something different that would make me stand out. If I correctly phrased all that – Frame can confirm?! He was very nice and insightful with his feedback, so thanks! So, not sure there is a conclusion really to the how SubmitHub curator debate… from my perspective it still seems as though standards can be impossibly high. Nonetheless I will still continue to use it simply because it is affordable to do so, unlike one of the big playlist placement providers which require a steeper investment and still get me nowhere!!!

    1. I can confirm the above 🙂

      Some other things that have an impact:

      Alot of big curators are probably not on Submithub but instead doing the payola thing.
      Submithub is not very centered on pop music like Apostola’s? I think it’s hard to find her niche there.

  9. I like Submit Hub. We had generally good results there the one time we used it. And we didn’t even properly use all of the helpful suggestions included in Brian’s article. So, I expect next time it will be even a bit better.

    I think the big trick with Submit Hub – which has been mentioned – is that you really need to spend time going through the various sites/curators to make sure your music fits with their guideance. That should take several hours if you’re doing it correctly. (We half-assed it the first time around and it still worked pretty well.)

    Regarding one poster’s charge of payola… for christ’s sake… a couple of dollars? That’s payola? Gimme a break. The curators don’t make diddly on this after taking into account the time required. Now, if we were talking hundreds of dollars or more… different story. I think of the small fees as acting as some minimal gatekeeper for the curators – they’re going to prioritize artists who are serious, and who realize that their (the curators’) time isn’t completely worthless.

    In an ocean of useless, illegitimate sites and services, Submit Hub is pretty decent.

    1. Taxi used to describe their $5 submission fee as a “discouragement fee.” I think the same applies here. It’s the bare minimum not to be flooded with poorly targeted submissions.

  10. Good afternoon!
    Thank You Brian for what You are doing!
    I have used SubmitHub and have an opinion.
    This is a good idea, but we need to work out the details.
    The performance should cost less. It can be 0.1 $ (10 cents).
    But ONLY if it is accepted, then 1 or 2 or 3$ is paid. This is a fairer deal than the endless search for a black cat in a black room.
    Real service – real payment:)
    What do you think?
    Thanks!

    1. I just signed on as a curator, and seeing things from the other side, I strongly disagree. 10 submissions takes me about a half hour, for which I get $5. I’m a mastering engineer, and can’t afford to value my time at $10/hr. Nobody is getting rich off that.

      Paying only for placement is called payola, and provides no incentive for artists to choose curators carefully. They would just send everything to everyone, which amplifies the problem SubmitHub was build to solve.

  11. Make sense. But now I don’t see any incentive for bloggers. I’m talking about some sort of reallocation of pay, a proportion.
    In reality, they get the full price for listening (only for listening). Nothing motivates them to add a song. In this case, it is impossible to detect fraudsters.
    And this is no different from the “payola”. It’s just “payola” without guarantees(of additing).
    And for the authors, this is an illusion. Endless running over the horizon.

    1. I’ve reread your comment several times, but I don’t understand your logic.

      When you say it’s impossible to detect fraudsters I assume you’re referring to curators, but there’s a bunch of info about each curator’s behavior, plus user reviews, on their profile.

      It’s different from payola in that you are paying for someone’s consideration rather than placement.

  12. Brian’s right. There’s plenty of info on the curators’ behavior. And if you ask them for written comments, they have to provide them or they won’t get paid. The dollar amounts are too pathetically low to equal anything resembling payola.

    Alex, that nothing motivates the curators to add a song… is a good thing. The only reason they’re going to add one is that they actually like it (or think their listeners will like it). You’re getting an honest opinion about your song from someone who hears a sh1tload of music. That has value, even if your song doesn’t get added to the playlist.

  13. Now that may sound crazy but can we actually quote parts of the feedback we get on our website in further single promotion? Sometimes even if my song wasn’t accepted, the feedback was pretty good.

  14. Hey, SubmitHub owner here — you absolutely can! Let’s say Indie Shuffle says “Loved the guitar solo, but found this a bit classic rock.” You could take some nice artwork, slap the quote “Loved the guitar solo – Indie Shuffle” on it, and share it with your audience. As Brian suggests, asking permission is a good idea, but it’s often not easy to do that if you’ve been declined and the curator hasn’t opened up a channel of communication. So in that case maybe @tweet them in your promo as well.

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Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting eleven Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion.

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