At this point in our not entirely illustrious career we receive a decent amount of music submissions every week. We try to check out each and every one that comes into us. Well, almost. Occasionally, we’ll just skip right past one and it’s usually because the words “MAJOR ARTIST SUBMISSION” are in the subject line. That’s my pet peeve. That right there, all in caps announcing that a major artist is about drop some heavy shit on my ears right now. There seem to be a couple of hiphop / indie labels who have adopted this approach for some god-unknown reason much to my dismay.
I started to wonder what really gets to other music writers and how this knowledge might benefit bands. I then reached out to some of rad local music journalists for their personal pet peeves and suggestions for bands ready to enter the Submit-To-Press phase of their musical careers. Thanks to Jason Woodbury, Dee Wallace, Nicole Parasida, Troy Farah, and everyone else who took some time to share their suggestions!
But especially don’t: Call your band “delicious” or any word you might use to describe food.
But most of all don’t: Say “eargasm.” Ever. It’s never been cool to say “eargasm” and it never will be.
Do: Include names of bands you’ve toured with, played shows with, or have legitimate connections with.
Don’t: Include bands that no one’s ever heard of though. Because duh.
Do: Include something really condescending like “I know your blog doesn’t normally cover stuff as awesome as the music we make, but we thought we’d toss it at you in case you feel like pulling your head out of your ass and getting REAL down.”
But only if: Your band is really good. Like, the best band, and you like confrontation.
Don’t: Send a physical CD. Send a download link. Make a Bandcamp site with art, that way you don’t have to sacrifice the graphic element of your aesthetic.
Unless, of course: You’re reasonably certain that the person you’re sending a physical item to will be really into it. Maybe they told you they wanted it. In that case, by all means, send a cool thing. Maybe a cassette if you know they have a tape deck. Vinyl, if that’s what they’re into. But do your best to make sure that your item (and by extension, the money you spent making it) isn’t going to end up in a big pile of stuff that will have to be given to Goodwill when that writer moves.
Do: Be personable. But don’t kiss anyone’s butt.
Don’t: Ever be bothered by what a critic says about you, unless you agree with what they said. Don’t decide whether you agree or disagree right away. Think about it a little. Or don’t. Go with your gut on this one.
|Eargasm? Really? Pass.|
Do: Send a polite follow-up email reminding someone that you sent them something. Wait a minute to do it though, and remember that they get a lot of stuff. Be persistent but don’t nag. I can’t explain exactly how to do this, but you know what I mean, right?
Don’t: Take it personally if a person doesn’t want to write about your band. Keep being the band you want to be. If you are a good band, there’s a writer out there into what you do. Don’t be upset that the lady or guy writing about about noise music or EDM or free jazz doesn’t want to write about [your] acoustic reggae band or hardcore outfit.
Do: Read the site/publication/blog that you’re sending your stuff to. Read it real hard.
Don’t: Ask someone to do you a “favor” and write about you. That’s insulting. To the writer, sure, but mostly to you, the person making some art. The Stooges didn’t ask you to “do them a favor” and lose your shit to “Funhouse.” No one ever tossed on D’Angelo’s “Voodoo” as a “favor” to D’Angelo. They put it on because they were going to make the moves on a special someone. John and Alice Coltrane didn’t need someone to do them a “favor” when they set out to touch the face of God through their art.
Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t treat your art like something that requires a “favor” to be noticed. That’s gross. Have stupid, ridiculous, probably-unfounded-or-justified belief in what you do. If you don’t have that feeling in your gut about your songs, tear them down and start over. If your art can be deterred by someone sending you an email that says “no thanks, not my thing,” your art is lacking. It’s not that person’s job to like your songs. It’s your job.
Do: Have fun. It’s music, you know?
So there’s a few do’s and don’ts. Feel free to disregard any one of these entirely, dear reader, or change a “do” to a “don’t.” They’re entirely subjective, and I will most likely change my mind about some of them/all of them later. Except that thing about “eargasms.” I’ll never change my mind about that.