Hi! My name is Heidi DuBose. By day I am a boom operator for film & television, and by night I am a “friend-ager” for Maiah Wynne, a 22 year old singer-songwriter. I’m not an official manager. I have no prior experience in music and I have no industry connections or traditional wisdom to share with my co-conspirator, but I do help out whenever I have the time. Together, as an “up-and-coming” musician and a “not-a-real” manager with a full time non-music job, we’ve learned a few things that I wanted to share with others that are in our same position. Maiah is unsigned and neither of us were born into a wealthy family that is just dying to fund her music career, so everything we do we have to fund ourselves. If you identify with this situation, then please, pull up a chair and have a look, have a listen and ask a question, or share your own unique experience regarding these websites.
I also want to give a shout out to Ari Herstand, whose book “How To Make It in the New Music Business” we have listened to over and over and whose blog we read regularly. He is the one that has pointed us in these directions and really what inspired me to write this up. Since he is a recognizable name, he can interact with these programs differently then we can. I encourage you to read up on his reviews of these same websites. I enjoy reading his reviews because they are well written and informative. But, I have to read his blog knowing he is 1. a well known player in the music industry 2. a male artist and 3. his genres and our genres are vastly different. That is why throughout this series I will be describing those notes in detail so that YOU, my dear reader, can see how those things color our experience as well. For instance, Maiah is not a hip hop artist. If you are a hip hop artist then your interaction with SubmitHub will be very different than ours (there are a ton more blogs looking for your music!)
This article is about our experience with Submithub and tips to get the most out of your time and money. Later on in this series will cover our unique experiences with fluence.io, Playlistpush, Sonicbids, and Submittable. If you all have suggestions or questions send them my way!
What is SubmitHub?
Below is a direct excerpt from Submithub founder Jason Grishkoff’s blog
“SubmitHub is a website that I started late in 2015 that makes it easy for musicians (or their representatives) to send their songs to blogs, record labels, radio stations, and/or a variety of channels (YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify).”
In summary you pay $1-$3 to a representative from a blog, channel, radio or label to listen to your track - and hopefully they will review it, share it, or add it to a playlist. There are “standard” submissions that you do not have to pay for so you can use this site for free, it just severely limits how frequent and sometimes who you can submit to.
SubmitHub claims to get you access to blogs, playlists, channels, radio & labels. But what I’ve personally experienced as far as real listens, real interactions and real follow through has just been with the blogs and a little bit with radio.
Why are blogs helpful?
Before I jump into my review let me take a moment to answer the Why? What good does it do to have a blog do a write up on your song? For us it has been a way to get some good press for a release and some great quotes to have on our website & epk. (You can check it out yourself at https://www.maiahwynne.com/news/) None of the ones we got onto have gotten us tons of plays, tons of traffic or tons of subscribers. There are blogs at SubmitHub that do have that kind of clout, for instance getting the attention of IndieShuffle could be a huge deal (more on that below).
If Spotify numbers are truly all you are interested in then I don’t think SubmitHub is a great place for that. Yes, they have playlists available to submit to but from our experience with them, we were much better off with PlaylistPush. Tune in for my next blog post on PlaylistPush which popped us up from an average of 30-40 streams a day to 300-500 streams per day. (and if you can’t wait that long and just want to go it alone, then at least use this coupon code that will get you 7.5% off and me 7.5% off on our next campaign - 2CTR5ZW)
The benefits of premium credits
We cannot afford a publicist to push our music for us, so for us SubmitHub allows us to get our music in front of people we had no shot at ever getting our music to for $1-$3 a pop. Not all the blogs on SubmitHub are worth a dollar, but some of them are. The best blogs we have gotten onto were ones we paid for.
Standard is: Completely free, Capped at two credits every four hours to keep bloggers from getting overwhelmed, No guarantee of response or feedback
Premium is: Guaranteed response within 48 hours, if they don’t respond you get your credit back, your submission filters to the top, Bloggers / playlisters must listen for 20 seconds before making a decision, you'll get at least 10 words of feedback if your submission is declined. If you don't want feedback, there's also an option for 90 seconds minimum listen time instead of feedback.
****Worth checking out is this article on SubmitHub submission strategies ****
I can’t stress enough that you need to genuinely dig into who you are submitting to before sending them a song. Some of them just repost your bio along with a massive amount of other songs, and some of them take your soundcloud link and throw it into a playlist that only 3 people listen to (and if your song is number 60 then those 3 people probably didn’t listen that long). However, some of them are truly lovely, like The Revue. Through their blog we have gotten a decent amount of listeners and two well written and thoughtful reviews.
If you have the time to truly do your research you can find a blog that will review any kind of song. We even found a blog that wrote a beautiful quotable review for our sad, slow song about a woman with cancer. After doing research, we found just 3 blogs that might be interested in the genre and topic, and were happy when this one picked it up.
Look at the statistics
SubmitHub gives you some great statistics to start out with to help you find your match. Pay a lot of attention to their “Genre Bias” data and their approval percentage rating. If it’s under 3% approval or over 10% approval we usually don’t apply. Under 3% means they you really have no chance so why waste the dollar. Unless you have done your research and know for absolute sure you are a match for what they like, in that case I’d say “It’s only a dollar, why not try!”. Over 10% means they are approving a lot of music and your song will end up drowning in a sea of music rather than being highlighted. Again, these are my recommendations based on what has worked for us, it’s your music and your money so I encourage you to do it any way that works for you.
When uploading - direct them to your preferred website
When you submit a song you get to choose your source- a link or an mp3. We try to submit our Spotify link first, Youtube link 2nd or an mp3. (if you do an mp3 make sure your metadata is tight!) Some blogs will only take SoundCloud, so we have that ready too but in private mode and only as a last resort. Soundcloud numbers really haven’t helped us in any tangible way. We want Spotify numbers and YouTube numbers if we have a music video for the release, so that is what we push first. You can submit more than one type of streaming link.
Say no to feedback!
The option for 90 seconds listening time instead of feedback is new. If you only get one thing from this whole write up, it’s this: Do not opt for feedback. Choose the 90 seconds minimum listen time instead. If you want to know why - the feedback is usually not constructive or informed. We, as well as many others, have had a very negative experience with their feedback option.
Use filters to your advantage
When filling out the genre for your submission, you also have the option to use filters. I recommend using the filters for “Really good bloggers” and “Listed on Hype Machine”. Next check out their profile. Make sure first and foremost they actually like your genre. For instance, Indieshuffle does not have Folk listed on their genres so I have only approached them with “Sleep”, a song that falls under the indie rock category.
A good story goes a long way
At the end of the submission process, there is a place to put a quick pitch about the song. This has actually been a key factor in our songs getting picked up. Songs that had a fast and intriguing story attached were more likely to get chosen. Remember they are writing about music and that can get repetitive. Make the story for them and they will love you. For our song “Ballad of Lefty Brown”, it was tough because it is western/folk and there are not a lot of blogs covering country. But, we had a great story “Maiah Wynne was a crew member on a feature film shot in Montana. She wrote the song on set and pitched it to lead actor Bill Pullman over chili. It is the end credit for the feature film out now!” We got picked up by Adobe & Teardrops and Two Story Melody. For “Sleep” our quick pitch was "Millions of people all over the world suffer from chronic sleep disorders, I am one of them, for me, this is what it feels like."
Watch & Wait
After you’ve made your selections and have finished submitting, all you can do is wait. There is a handy Dashboard area where you can view your submissions and even see who has listened and how long. This is really where SubmitHub gives you data that you can use to hone future campaigns. If you’ve found 50 blogs you want to submit to, start with 10 and look at the data you have. Your campaign history will show you how long they listened and how many times they listened before making a choice. This is priceless information and is how you decide who to keep submitting to with future music. It was agonizing to watch Indieshuffle listen to “Sleep” all the way through, FOUR times over a few days time only to ultimately decline it. BUT because of this, I know that I can send them more music and that we still have a real shot at this blog. Other blogs that immediately decline at 91 seconds, I re-evaluate. I double check the music they are into and see if I got it wrong. If I’ve submitted more than one song to them over the months and gotten the same results I permanently remove them from my “try” list. If your song isn’t listened to, your money is refunded. I’ve never had any issues with this.
SubmitHub also gives you the option to download your campaign history as a .csv file. Be careful not to resubmit the same song twice, as this can be accidentally done.
Chat & Follow Through
Once you are approved, you’re given a Chat session with that blog. Say hi and give them more info if they need it. I usually send them our epk with password so if they need more photos or more information it’s right there. Give them time. Once they publish, make sure to share it with the world! Remember: this is a two way street and you want to build a relationship with them so that the music you make in the future has a shot at being featured again.
SubmitHub wants to know how things went. They help you follow up with a blog if they have been quiet for awhile. You can rate the experience and you can quietly share with them if something went badly. I give positive reviews to people even who declined us simply for listening to the whole song. That, to me, is awesome of them. I go out of my way to review and loudly recognize the blogs that do great write ups. That’s the whole point of this site! SubmitHub does a great job at refunding the credits that weren’t used and I’ve even had a blog tell me (this was before when they didn’t have the “no comments” option) that we were declined because our music video wasn’t “professional” enough. This was for a music video that was shot with my union coworkers from TNT & Netflix on 4K and then we cut in real footage from the film “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” which was a 35mm Film starring Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Peter Fonda and more. It’s a very professional, very good looking official music video for an internationally distributed film. I pointed this out to SubmitHub and they agreed with me and promptly refunded me.
With time and research you can get your music truly listened to by blogs for a reasonable price.
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