Disclaimer: I created SubmitHub. This article is not meant to defend it; rather, it is my attempt to identify some of its pros and cons with the hope that I can work toward improving them.
What is SubmitHub?
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).
The platform arranges these submissions in a neat and orderly manner so that those aforementioned blogs etc. can easily sift through them and make a decision about whether they want to share it or not. As of writing this article, roughly 1.3 million submissions have been sent in, of which ~86,000 have been approved for coverage (6.6%).
An important component of the website is "premium" credits (optional), whereby the submitter pays for a guarantee that the blog will listen and provide feedback within a certain time-frame. For the submitter, a guaranteed response is a huge improvement on standard email campaigns; on the other side of the coin, blogs have earned nearly $300,000 with this model.
Okay, so why does it suck?
SubmitHub sucks for submitters because:
- With an overall 6.6% approval rate, chances of your song being rejected by an outlet are quite high. Sending your song to 100 blogs? Expect of them 93 to say no
- Feedback doesn't always make sense. Sometimes it's vague; sometimes it seems completely wrong; sometimes it feels like they didn't really listen. On the flip side, sometimes it's too specific -- sharing technical or mixing details can be frustrating to someone who has more experience and understanding than the one providing the feedback
- Getting negative feedback for a song you've worked long and hard on can be emotionally draining and deflating to the whole music-making process
- Increased competition -- the playing field is completely level (eg, a bedroom producer has just as much chance as a band with a major label team and/or high-quality publicist doing the submission for them)
- It's impersonal -- those listening to your music are generally focused on the song itself, rather than considering any personal relationship (bad for publicists who have built a career around their digital network)
SubmitHub sucks for bloggers/channels because:
- The volume of submissions you're paying attention to can become overwhelming
- The increased volume also means more time spent blogging
- Having to come up with feedback when you don't like a song but aren't sure why can be frustrating -- it feels like saying something negative for the sake of saying something negative
- On the subjective of negativity, constantly declining people's submissions can emotionally draining, and you might find the dismissive approach seeping into other areas of your life
- Each piece of feedback needs to be unique, and the SubmitHub team will probably hound you if it's too repetitive
- The compensation is minimal, working out to between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on how fast you sift through your submissions
Why use it, then?
SubmitHub is useful for submitters because:
- It dramatically increases the odds that the person you're sending your music to actually listens and considers it
- It significantly cuts down on the time spent identifying and reaching out to blogs
- The feedback can be informative or identify larger issues that you may not have noticed
- For many, it's the first time a 3rd party has listened to their music -- which means it's often the first time they get an honest reaction
- Many blogs prefer to not take submissions any other way
- For the few artists who are able to get "consensus" and achieve a ~20%+ approval rate, the reward can be plentiful: major labels and streaming editorial teams (Spotify, Apple Music) are closely watching the blogs for cues on who to share with their audience, and the knock-on effect can have a big impact on an artist's future
SubmitHub is useful for bloggers because:
- It compensates them for the time they spend listening to new music; this helps cover server costs, web design, editorial staff, events, new computers, new headphones, etc.
- It reduces the inconsistency and clutter of unsolicited emails. Many bloggers feel overwhelmed by how many email submissions they get, and SubmitHub allows them to clean that whole process up
- Under the deluge of emails, many bloggers (myself included) stopped paying attention to small indie acts because the volume of submissions was too high. SubmitHub means that I'm once again paying attention to everything, which has led me to blog about hundreds of songs I would probably not have otherwise encountered
This list is a work in progress. I may add things along the way.
At the end of the day, SubmitHub is an experiment. I created it for two reasons: 1) to learn some new coding languages; 2) to help accommodate the overwhelming amount of submissions that I was receiving at Indie Shuffle on a daily basis via email. The idea clearly resonated with many other blogs.
While there are concerns that some blogs are primarily focused on the earnings, I do sincerely believe that the majority of those using SubmitHub in a "reviewer" capacity are doing so because it makes their passion to find the best new music easier; not because they're getting rich.
Feel free to reach out at any time with constructive feedback or suggestions for improvement. I cannot promise I'll agree, but I'll certainly listen :)