How to submit your songs

How to submit your songs to music blogs, record labels, radio, and press

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Music blogs, radio stations, and record labels have specific guidelines on how to submit – and how NOT to submit – your music

This post was revised January 2019.

As the publisher of the Indie Bible and the Indie Venue Bible, the most frequent question I get from artists is, “How do I contact the music services listed in your directory?” The answer is always the same: Whether you’re contacting magazines, music blogs, radio shows, record labels, music distributors, radio stations, or promotional services, you have to check THEIR SPECIFIC submission guidelines before getting in touch.

This is the most fundamental rule of promotion. It is the rule now, and it will be the rule 2,000 years from now when humans have giant heads and tiny bodies.

There’s really no excuse not to check. Ninety percent of music services have their submission guidelines clearly posted online.

Why do artists ignore submission guidelines?

My guess is, as is the case with most people, musicians and artists are in a gigantic hurry and are always on the lookout for any available shortcut. It’s a habit that lies deep within our psyche and is hard to break.

Shortcuts are great when you end up where you’re trying to get to. If you don’t end up at your destination, it’s not really a shortcut.

In the music business, because there are so many thousands of people submitting their music daily, if you don’t follow the submission guidelines, you may as well open your window and throw your CD onto the street. That way, it has a miniscule chance of someone listening to it.

Gone are the days when you would make a music demo and mail physical copies to record labels, college stations, and homemade zines. With the Internet – including audio and video websites, music blogs, review websites, Internet radio, podcasts, and social networking platforms – it is no longer possible to even keep track of all the places that could help you to gain exposure for your music. And they all have their own special way that they like to be reached.

Still, a lot of artists tend toward a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to making initial contact. They believe that it’s more practical than taking the time to research each music service individually.

But if it doesn’t get you anywhere, how practical is it?

How to submit your music

The remainder of this post explores various ways to submit your music to music services (or in some cases, reasons why a music service doesn’t want your submission).

I have created this list to show you that there are MANY ways that you may be asked to submit your music. Sending your music without checking the submission guidelines is a waste of your time and money — and frankly, it just irritates people.

How to guarantee failure

1. The generic email blast.

We all know this one. We’re all subjected to it daily. It’s called SPAM. The logic behind it all comes down to basic math. “If I send out X number of emails, and only one percent of the people respond, that’s still a lot of responses!”

I can guarantee you that no music submission guidelines in the history of the world have ever stated that their preferred way of being contacted is by an email blast.

2. The generic email blast with fries.

To get an e-blast from an artist that has cc’d you and several hundred other people is the lowest possible form of communication in the music business, especially if there are MP3s attached. It frustrates everyone involved. If you’re going to send out a blast, at least have the decency to use the blind carbon copy (bcc) function so that recipients sees everyone’s email addresses.

3. No contact name.

When sending an initial email to a music service, take the time to find out the name of the appropriate contact. This will show you have sacrificed a few seconds of your time to at least find out who to contact.

These are human beings you’re contacting and it frustrates them to continually receive requests from people that call them “Hey” or “Dear Music Reviewer.”

There are cases where no contact name is available. A lot of bloggers like to keep things mysterious. In these cases you have no choice but to start your correspondence with a generic salutation. However, in most cases, the name of the appropriate contact is posted, usually in the “About Us” or “Contact” section.

4. Sending unsolicited material.

One of the most frustrating things for independent artists to deal with is the large number of labels and music services that do not accept unsolicited material. It creates a kind of an outside-looking-in feeling. How do you become one of the “solicited” and why are these people being so mean?

There are two mains reasons for this vigorous screening. The first is for legal protection. In the past, there have been many artists who have filed suit against labels, claiming that the label ripped off their song. They claim that they sent XYZ Records a demo, and a year later an XYZ Artist released a song that sounded similar to their demo. It gave record companies no choice but to protect themselves by having lawyers or management firms ask for permission to send in a demo on behalf of their clients.

The second reason is that it helps to make sure the music is targeted. It enables labels to avoid the deluge of inappropriate material that they would receive if they welcomed ALL material. At some point, a human being has to go through all the submissions. If the label welcomed unsolicited material, they would be fortunate if ten of the music sent to them actually fit the style that they were looking for.

5. Submitting when the label has announced “submissions are closed.”

Many services, especially small labels, review websites, and blogs, reach a point where they’re maxed out. They have a small staff and have a backload of submissions and cannot possibly get to any new submissions, at least for a while. In their submission guidelines, there will be a notice that submissions are closed until further notice. Once they get caught up, submissions are opened up again.

6. Using an incorrect email address.

Most music services have several contact emails, especially the larger ones. The email to use depends on your reason for getting in touch. There may be an email address specifically for submissions, reviews, press releases, demos, general questions, and advertising. Make sure you use the appropriate email address.

If a music reviewer’s personal address is listed and they ask that you send all submissions to the music@ address, do NOT send your music to their personal address, even if that’s the person that you would like to send your music to. It’s likely that the music@/demos@/reviews@ messages go to a different account that can handle large files and a lot of incoming emails.

7. Poor spelling, grammar, and text speak.

If you’re a rotten speller, just admit it. Run a spell check or get a friend to look over your copy before you send it to anyone. The same goes for grammar. The last thing a blogger or music reviewer wants to do is to try and plod through a mess of misspelled words and grammatical oddities.

The same thing goes for text speak. You’re not texting someone, you’re writing a letter of introduction. That age-old rule about the importance of first impressions applies.

8. Asking a question that is answered in the FAQ.

Most music services have some sort of FAQ on their website — a page that features answers to the most frequently asked questions. They’ll ask in their submission guidelines that you take a moment to read the FAQ before contacting them. The usual policy is, if the FAQ doesn’t answer your question, then by all means get in touch. However, if you send them a question that is answered in the FAQ, you’re only going to tick them off. It’s doubtful that they’ll get back to you.

9. Not using a required permission form.

Many music services, usually Internet radio shows and video broadcasting websites, will not play your music or video unless you fill out their online permission form. In some cases you are asked to print out the form, fill it in, and mail it to them. If you send them your music without the form, it will not be played.

General guidelines

1. Know what style(s) of music the service welcomes.

Nothing slow burns a radio host, music editor, label owner, or blogger like getting bombarded with music that is totally unrelated to the style they promote. It displays a total disrespect. It’s like sitting down and ordering pizza in a Chinese restaurant. It shows them right away that you haven’t taken a moment to even look around to find out about what it is they do. Your songs, of course, are trashed immediately.

2. Contact before sending your music.

Several music services are more than happy to accept your music. All they ask is that you contact them before sending in your music, just to make sure your music is a good fit. It’s their way of pre-screening submissions.

3.Do not contact before sending your music.

Some services do not want to be bothered with an initial contact. It’s a waste of their time. They insist that you go ahead and send your music in without any preliminary introduction. Contacting them only irritates them.

4. Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Some music services prefer to be contacted through their Facebook page or Twitter account. Often you will not find any other contact information on their website other than a link to their Facebook or Twitter page. Sometimes you will find a contact email within the About section of their Facebook account.


Many bloggers don’t post any contact information at all. In order to get in touch you have to post a comment on their blog.

6. Know what formats they accept.

This is another key element that is often overlooked. Music services usually post their format of preference. Often, it’s a combination of several formats. For instance they may accept digital and physical submissions. Or, they may accept digital submissions only. They may also welcome videos. Or they may be old-school and will ask for physical submissions only.

7. Vinyl only.

There are some music services that only accept vinyl. They are usually record labels in the punk, electronic, and hip hop genres.

8. EPs and demos.

Many reviewers will accept demos and EPs to review, but MANY DON’T. Again, it’s important to check before sending out your EP or demo.

9. Time-sensitive material.

There are a number of music blogs, radio shows, promoters and review sites that will only deal with music that has been released recently. The cutoff date varies, but the allowable time of release is usually six months or less. If your music was released prior to their “cut off” date, it will be ignored.

10. Local music only.

There are a lot of local music resources, including radio shows, print and online publications, blogs, labels, and more. What is meant by “local” depends on the specific resource. For some it may a particular city and its surrounding suburbs. For another it may be an entire state or province. Local could also include several states, or even a specific section of a state (i.e.: Southern California or Central Ohio). While for others, local can be a whole country.

A common exception is if your band is on tour and is playing in the community. Often, that qualifies you as “local” even though you’re not from the area.

11. Which reviewer accepts my style of music?

There are music blogs and review websites that have a stable of reviewers. Each reviewer accepts one or more style of music. So, even though the overall website may welcome many styles, the onus is on you to find out which of the reviews/bloggers deals with your particular style of music. Once you determine which reviewer covers your style of music, you can contact them according to their specific submission guidelines.

12. Is this a free or a paid service?

Most bloggers, magazines and radio shows will promote your music as a free service. It’s what they love to do. However, more and more services are charging a fee, usually between $10 and $50, depending on the services they offer and the number of songs involved. There are also music services that offer both a “free” and “paid” option. The main advantage of the “paid option” is that it gets you to the front of the line.

13. Third party submission services.

Often, a music service will only accept music through a third party submission service. MusicSubmit, Sonicbids, and Musicxray are three to check out. These submission services act as a protective buffer. Instead of being bombarded by thousands of submissions, many bloggers, reviewers, radio shows, etc. hire a submission service to handle ALL of the incoming submissions. The submission service makes their money by charging the artist a fee for the submission – which should be indicated along with the listing.

14. Sending a press kit.

Another important consideration when sending your music is the accompanying bio information about you or your band. Submission guidelines are usually specific about what sort of information they would like to have included. They could either ask for a full blown press kit, a one-sheet, an electronic press kit (EPK), or just a few lines about you. They may also want a photo, a scan of the album cover, press clippings, and so on. Your best chance to succeed is by sending exactly what it is they want. If they ask for a one-sheet and you send them a novel, you’re only going to frustrate them.

15. College radio.

Some college radio stations allow you to send your music directly to a show’s host, but many insist that all music be sent to the Music Director. The Music Director then passes on the music to the various shows, according to the genre. Make sure you’re clear on whom to address your music to.

16. No shrink wrap or glitter.

When sending a CD, make sure to remove the shrink wrap first. It’s highly irritating for someone receiving hundreds of CDs a week to continually have to waste valuable time removing annoying shrink wrap. And don’t fill your envelope with glitter to try and be unique and get their attention. It’s universally hated by everyone in the music business.

Digital submissions

1. Attachments.

Nothing fires up the rage-O-meter like receiving an email with a MP3 attached when the submission guidelines clearly state, “Please DO NOT attach MP3s!”

2. Sending MP3s.

If a music service does welcome attachments, make sure that you follow their particular specs (if they have them listed). There are a variety of ways to format/compress a MP3. For starters, you always want to make sure that it’s tagged/labeled right. The formatting details vary according to the individual music service.

3. Links to your music.

Services that accept digital submissions, but don’t want attachments, will often ask that you send a LINK to your music. Having a link allows the end user to take their time because there are no storage issues. They can visit your link whenever they have a moment. If they like your music, they may then ask you to mail in your CD or send them a digital file.

4. Streaming.

For some music services, the preferred delivery is via streaming from SoundCloud, YouTube, Reverbnation, Bandcamp, etc.

5. Online forms.

A lot of music services have set up an online submission form. It allows you to fill out information about yourself and your act and it also enables you to upload songs to their server.

6. File sharing services.

Some music services, especially reviewers and bloggers, ask that you send your digital files via file sharing service that will transfer large files on behalf of their clients. This cloud-enabled transfer allows a music service to download submissions without having to worry about their personal server getting clogged by the endless influx of submissions.

7. Digital music aggregators.

In order to get your music posted on many of the larger digital music websites, such as iTunes and Spotify, you must have your music submitted through a digital music aggregator. Aggregators are music services that distribute audio files in bulk to these massive digital websites. Of course, CD Baby will distribute your music on Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many more.


Submission guidelines not only tell you how to make FIRST CONTACT, but more often than not, they also tell you how to follow up (or not). The follow-up can often be as important as the first contact.

The most common rule is that if they like your music, they will get in touch. In other words, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” It’s nothing personal, they just don’t have the time to respond to all of the submissions they get. Others may welcome a gentle reminder. Radio show hosts often ask that you follow their playlist to see if your music has been played (instead of contacting them and asking). A lot of places emphasize NO PHONE CALLS!

A sure-fire way to irritate someone is by following up in a way that they specifically asked you not to in their submission guidelines.

The best way to have your submission stand out is by making it personal and by following their submission guidelines to the letter. If you don’t follow the specific submission guidelines, your music faces the inevitable fate of being trashed.

Music blogs and moreDavid Wimble is a musician, songwriter, and publisher of the Indie Bible, The Indie Venue Bible, and The Indie Bible ONLINE. His company has combined all of their directories into The Ultimate Indie Bundle to create an affordable resource for struggling artists. Email David at

Get Your Music Noticed!

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62 thoughts on “How to submit your songs to music blogs, record labels, radio, and press

  1. Two critical aspects must be considered while making 808 samples sound better. We must first change the Attack, Sustain, Decay, and Release settings to make the sample fit your tempo. The second (and arguably more important) step is to experiment with the EQ tools in your sampler or application. The 808 sample packs sound like a jumble of clattering metal scrap mixed together into one massive soundscape where it’s difficult to focus on any single frequency. The 808 sample packs sound like a gigantic pile of clattering metal trash all mashed together, unlike a guitar or synth sound, which has its essential frequencies set out front and relies on other frequencies as auxiliary space fillers.

  2. Now, this is the era of technology and everything is easier to promote. I think these tips are very effective to promote music.

    I really love the tips, thank you for sharing with us.

  3. I have a copyright song I’d like Dolly Parton to hear. I’ve sent a permission request to her publishing company and her agent and received a “No”. Suggestions Please.

  4. These are great points. It is always important to be respectful and to show others that you are willing to take the time to get to know their process. Being successful in business is a long term process.

    When leaving followup messages, I always like to be extra-sensitive and say something like: “I know you are busy….” This lets them know that you are offering a gentle reminder, not pressuring. Often times, the person you are trying to reach is just busy and the follow-up is a reminder in and of itself.

  5. Great article Dave!
    Hi I’ve got an amazing idea for a new music video but just don’t know who to tell about this. I can finally ask my brother to stop being just a bathroom singer xP
    Thanks anyway!

  6. Really good information and point wise description of the terms and conditions which artists normally ignores. Internet has changes the way of working in music industry too.. therefore checking out and get familiar with new things is really important.

  7. Hi I’ve got an amazing idea for a new music video but just don’t know who to tell about this can any one help set me in the right direction x

  8. So far, I’ve noticed three instances of the word “advise” used incorrectly in the comments. The word y’all want is “advice”.

    “Advise” (pron: ad-VIZE) is a verb meaning the act of giving advice. Not to be the grammar police, but a good point made in the article is: “Run a spell check or get a friend to look over your copy before you send it to anyone. The same thing goes for grammar.”


  9. I am an artist manager at SLABB MONEY ENTERTAINMENT. In the beginning I experienced a lot of the issues that you wrote about when submitting to different record labels on behalf of my artists. The information that you shared is definitely on point and very true. I say that for the benefit of anyone who reads this information and is not sure of whether to believe it or not. If you want something from them, then you have to give them exactly what they want.

    I was at a show with one of my artists, (CRAZY CHRIS), and I was talking with DAZ from THA DOGG POUND, THE LADY OF RAGE, SNOOP DOGG, all former artist of DEATH ROW RECORDS; also WARREN G, who was never actually signed to DEATH ROW, but did a lot of work and performances at DEATH ROW and was featured on almost all of DEATH ROW

    1. …continued… artists releases. Also BUSTA RHYMES was there. All of them told me the same thing when asked how do they feel about up and coming artists contacting them or approaching them. They all pretty much said that they don’t mind it, but that it really irritates them when someone tries to give them a lot of, or any of what they are not interested in. They said that it shows that you have not followed them or researched them because if you had, then you would have a bit of an idea of who they are and what their interests are when it comes to music.
      As you may know, DAZ and WARREN G. are two of the top HIP-HOP producers in the industry, and so it was very educational to get that straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, as I was just starting out as a manager.
      Thanks for this article.

  10. thanks mr David wimble im so greatful for your a pop artist looking for record deal i dont know record company to show case my song have already down load it on people are listing it there with likes and comments what should i do next because am Nigeria base in guinea equatoria i need your advise sir

  11. This is one of the best music biz articles I’ve read in quite a while! Great advice, especially what NOT to do 🙂

  12. What they won’t tell is this.. you have to PAY to be posted on blogs, PERIOD. No one cares about your music because they just don’t have the time to listen and review every submission, nor do they want to. A trick that worked for me is to simply ask, what are the prices for getting posted on the blog. They will almost always respond quick because it’s a business of making money off of aspiring artist while collecting ad dollars. Do yourself a favor and just get right to business. It’ll save you time in the long run.

    1. Not true at all. There will be some that will charge or have a “premium option” to guarantee placement, but they are by FAR the minority. Most are free.

  13. Thank you for sharing such valuable information for the music community. Keep up the good work,

  14. Awesome article. It’s crazy how a lot of the things this article says is what they teach me in business college. Simply show the companies you’ve invested time in researching them, and you’ll succeed far better. Like resume’s, You succeed far better with five specifically tailored resumes, rather than sending out a hundred of the same resume.

  15. If your music is any good you will be successful. You have to have talent and ambition. If your music sucks it doesn’t matter how many times you submit it to the bloggers, the labels or to the general public; it won’t sell and it won’t make you any money.

  16. Thank You David for taking the time to share this info, especially since most bloggers are greedy about there music business knowledge.

  17. Although I agree with 95% of this article, there is one thing we must remember that some labels are just as bad at sucking you in to signing up to their sites with free submissions offer. Then when your in and you want to submit your track, you are forwarded to another page asking for your credit information. It is so frustrating as an artist to find that you jumped all the hoops to get all your info and music ready for upload, to then be redirected to a payment section. That SUCKS TOO! Unfortunately it’s all about making money and the companies offering this type of service have you in their sights. They know your desperate for exposer and success and so the vicious circle goes on and on. Don’t be fooled in thinking they are interested in you, as they have thousands of artists to choose from. Be wise and patient and pick the one’s that at least give you a chance for some small exposure at no expense to you.

    1. There are thousands of services offering FREE help in regard to blogging, radio airplay, reviews, label submissions etc. I would advise anyone to keep away from the “paid” services for any of the above. Spend your money elsewhere … on promotion, publicity etc.

  18. Where can you even find guidelines for submitting on a record labels website? Of course I have never submitted any form of music yet to a record label. But how can you find a guideline? Is it best to always ask to send your track to the company first? Will be doing loads of research before sending any type of track in. Thanks for the advice!

    1. Dan

      It’s important to read the guidelines on the label’s website. They are usually posted, often in the “Contact” section. The way to contact them will vary from label to label. Many are now using Dropboxes. A lot are old school and want a CD mailed to them. And then you have everything in between.

      The larger labels, more often than not, will not accept any unsolicited submissions.

    2. Not sure what you mean? The larger labels usually just state that they will not accept unsolicited material. Some of them are now using Dropboxes or submission services. Most often, the smaller labels will post their submission guidelines. It will be under the heading CONTACT, ABOUT or SUBMIT. Sometimes in the FAQ.

  19. Great advise on submitting songs. The difference between success and failure is getting the right song in to the right opportunity. Following these guidelines will improve a songwriters chances of getting a song placed.

  20. Quit your Whining! Its a new age. You sound like a dinosaur. No wonder record labels are falling fast.
    Get to work, check out the creative input coming to you free! or go home. Let somebody else do your job.

  21. I agree is all in who you know ..I have followed these steps for yrs. now with no luck ..only a few who expected me to pay them a rediculous amount of money to critique my songs … I sing gospel music both southern and contemp. God has blessed me with the ability to write and sing…I recently released an original cd of my own by using disc makers..The Child of Yesterday .. dedicated to the memory of all the children who left this world too soon! And even after speaking with radio station manager and him promising to air the title tract at least ..when I took him the cd I was told I had to hire a promotor …I told him ,” I have One..His name is God!!!”….This is a Christian radio station too…but that is ok is being played on an AM station locally and get this the only store I could get to sale my cd in is an animal feed store..which is ironic..Mary and Joseph were turned away and Jesus was born in a stable with animals about and our local Christian book and supply store turned me away and the owner of the feed store welcomed me in..not getting rich by no means lol..can hardly keep the lights on but praise God my cd containing His inspired and guided words is touching the lives of others and helping to ease their pain one soul at a time!!! God is so gracious and will open doors!!

    1. God is not going to promote your CD for you, but God gave you the tools to figure it out. You can “leave it in God’s hands” as people like to say… but understand that your hands are God’s hands.

      OK, so the animal feed store will stock your disk, but the Christian book store will not. Learn to use that to your advantage. How about contacting the local press and have your picture taken at the feed store with your CD. The store will get free publicity, and the story has human interest value.

      Given the subject matter of your disk, maybe you can schedule some free performances at churches or shelters. Contact the radio stations and press in each case and emphasize the charitable aspect of it.

      Those are just a few ideas, but the point is to stay creative, in both music and business.


  22. As the music industry changes as fast as the speed of light, this is a most informative article an I thank you for the clarity Dave…yes it is a challenge keeping up and organizing it all, but the road map you have created here is extremely helpful…the only thing I ask and look forward to is an update in a month or so as things will likely change again, and that fast!

  23. Ive,written songs, and need to place them in the right places, thanks for the Imfo, I always read every thing I have placed infront of my eyes.Like all you send me, send more, we never stop learning. Cheryl Thanks again.

  24. This is all very true except for one thing,,,,,,,,, you have to know somebody /……That’s right I mean know someone …….Every person that ever made it knew someone that helped them……….They won’t admit it ……I may have someone now helping me,…….. it’s been thirty some years maybe it’s my turn………. J.B. Hudson

    1. J.B.

      I agree that it helps if you know somebody, but you have to ask yourself … how do they know this person that’s helping them?

      Sometimes it will be a friend of a friend or a relative, but I believe most of the time these helpful people come into artist’s lives as a result of hard work.


  25. Thanks for all the info… It will be my pitching Bible.
    Also.. seems like maybe playing submissions might make a good computer show and
    maybe a fast way to get properly labeled with name and address,,etc. might
    be a fast way for many to hear much music?

  26. Thanks so much, David, for this simple invaluable advice for those of us who would love to get our stuff heard and seen by someone… anyone! It’s so easy to forget that, as our music gets funneled further and further down the media pipeline, it will eventually land in someone’s lap who just might pick it up and pay attention to it if we have played our cards right. Thanks for the tips on how we should play those cards so we can stay in the game.

  27. Traditionally musicians do not like to play by the rules… but this is one time that being a nonconformist can really hurt. Thanks David for making is really clear that we need to find out what the submission guidelines are and follow them.

  28. As an internet radio host I can’t stress enough the importance of filling out the ID3 tags properly! I get tons of submissions every week and if I don’t know what it is I am not going to play it. I will not remember who you are and I don’t have the time to figure out where this file or that came from so I can fill out the tag for you. Also make sure the file works, believe it or not I get submitted mp3 files that won’t even play. Happens all the time, sometimes even from labels. You want exposure and I want to help with that, but I don’t have time for you if you can’t even make sure your own stuff is in order.

  29. I agree and disagree somewhat. This is what they get paid to do, they’re not volunteering their time to help promote your band. They get paid to write stories, and you’re providing the story. Having this “holier than thou” because I can “make you or break you” attitude is very unprofessional. . . and being professional goes both ways.

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