11 Reasons Your Music Submission Goes in the Trash

Oct 6, 2014 by

Music submissions to radio, blogs and podcasts are something we’ve been dealing with for nearly seven years now. Having been in all three situations and now with our co-producer Claire doing most of the listening and selection of the submissions, we’ve got it down to a near science. I thought it would be good for us to share the red flags with you so that you might avoid having your prized music get thrown in the trash before someone’s even listened to it.

Spoiler alert: we advocate that you personally research every place you’re sending your music, find the right person, send it to them and personalize the email specifically for them. Then, follow up in a week or so if you haven’t heard back. When you do get in touch, foster these relationships by giving your favorites exclusives, send them holiday cards, signed stuff, etc. If you believe in your music, you’ll do this and be successful. It’s a slow process BUT it’s much easier to track, follow up and you actually look like you’re trying!

BCC emails to submit music

Adding a bunch of contact email addresses to the BCC of an email and sending it out with your latest track and press release makes you, the huge, ugly thorn-in-the-sock-on-a-five-mile-run for any who receive it, if they do. Many spam filters clear out most of the BCC mail that goes around these days anyway, and if someone gets it you can actually negatively effect your image – it’s an unprofessional, ugly and annoying way to send out anything – new album releases included.

What you should do: when you make contact, ask them if you can add them to your music outlet mailing list. If they say yes, add them to your Mailchimp (it’s free) mailing list and email them once a month with news and when you have your next release, send it to this list first.

The subject line of your music submission email

To a near certainty, if we see any of these in your email subject line, we’re not going to play the song on the show.

  1. Misspellings
  2. More than one X next to each other (e.g. “Our band Subjecxx Line’s new EP”)
  3. Not capitalizing the right words (e.g. “this Tune IS amazING!”)
  5. Poor grammar in your subject line

Take a moment and craft a nice subject line. Something like, “New Pickwick album sounds like indie and opera had a beautiful baby!” Be creative, short, eye-catching and not too hype-y. (I agree, my example is borderline too hype-y.)

The body of your radio/blog/podcast music submission email


Don’t get lost in the pile! Take your time and make your submission personal and special.

  1. Show off your personal research of the recipient right away in the first few lines. (E.g. “Hey Danny, just read your latest post about Emily Wolfe’s new single and you’re right, that’s a darn good track and even better than her previous.”)
  2. Add one or possibly two more short paragraphs about what you’re sending them. Include:
    • A tiny personal story about the song/band/single/something.
    • Who you sort of sound like, and make this fun. (E.g. “If the Strokes and J.J. Hooker played on the same stage for a night and covered each other’s material.”)
    • Why they should play your song NOW. And don’t put, “because it’s the best thing since sliced bread.” Perhaps, “our album is being released in a few weeks and we’ll be touring the pacific northwest for the next few months.” Or you could go this route: “Our single is promoting domestic violence awareness because our singer, Julie was attacked last year.”
    • THAT’S IT. Make this long and we’ll never get down to clicking on the link to listen. Keep it simple.
  3. Make sure we’re one click away from hearing your music. Soundcloud links are perfect for this.
  4. You’ll also want to make the EP or album available for us to download. Dropbox is perfect for this, check out David Jordan’s slick way of using it for this purpose.
  5. Don’t attach MP3s to your email unless they ask for it (we ask for it, but not everyone does.)
  6. Make it special. You’ll have to dig deep into your band’s branding, personal feelings, etc, but if it’s not special, we may not even listen.

We won’t always play your music, even if it’s amazing

Many of you understand this already: even if you have great music and you’ve done all of these things we’ve described and more, we still may not play your music. This could be a number of reasons: we’re not looking for your type of music, it’s not the right message for our audience… or many other reasons. If you ask nicely and you’re open to feedback, some of us will provide that, just please don’t snap at us. We do this every day and know what our listeners want to hear and sometimes it’s not your music.

Don’t let a rejection from one of us stop you from pursuing your career as a musician! Sometimes your music just isn’t ready for radio yet and that could be the production of the MP3 among many other things. Keep working hard and if you’ve followed our guidelines above and taken care with your conversations with industry, you’ll be able to submit again later.

Did we miss anything? Did we spark some frustration and anger from you? Please leave your comments and questions in the comments section below and let’s make this a solid resource for anyone trying to get their music out to the world!

All the best,