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Friday
Apr262019

Submit Hub - A Scam

I’m part of a band that has had its fair share of false-starts over the years. Preparing for these false starts, I’ve repeatedly put together lists of potential blogs to pitch our music to when we’re building up to a release.

To do this, I head over to The Hype Machine, head to the indexed sites, filter what’s relevant to my music, and then take down the details from the list I’m presented with. I’ll generally head to each blog, look up their submission guidelines, and make a couple of notes to personalise my emails to them, where possible.

A couple of years ago, the vast majority of the blogs suggested the same – a variation on sending an email with a link to stream, be it via your own email or a web form. Since then, there has been an increasing trend towards using a service called Submit Hub.

If you’re not familiar with Submit Hub, it’s essentially a site that you can create an account to run campaigns from to send them directly to blogs who use it. A lot of blogs exclusively use this service now. There’s also a “premium” service, where you can buy credits to ensure that blogs have to listen for 90 seconds, and have to provide written feedback within 48 hours. It’s not expensive, in fairness; it works out at around a dollar per credit, and blogs charge between 1 and 3 credits.

It sounds great, doesn’t it? I’ve approached my music career with a fierce independence since day one, and the potential to reach blogs without having to pay a PR agent was very appealing. Unfortunately, the veil has been lifted somewhat, at least for me.

As I mentioned above, a lot of blogs now use Submit Hub exclusively, and will not accept email submissions at all. There’s a very good reason for this – they get paid for using Submit Hub. The premium credit is split between the Submit Hub company and the blogs, with blogs reportedly receiving $0.50 per submission. Now, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that; blogs are an important part of the music ecosystem, but isn’t it damning to think that yet another facet of the music industry now has an apparatus to take money straight out of the pockets of the artist?

The notion of the starving artist is hardly new, and it goes without saying that monetizing your music is, often, a very difficult thing to do, at least consistently. Looking at the blogs that use Submit Hub, they get THOUSANDS of submissions. I was reading a post by a music blogger yesterday who boasted about making $450 (I’m UK-based, so around £350 at current conversion rate) a month on the service. Can you imagine how much easier your life, as an artist, would be if you could have that amount of money as a virtually guaranteed income every month? It’d certainly make my life a lot easier.

Bearing in mind that blogs simply do not have the expenses that artists have either – there’s no paying for rehearsal rooms, for vans to carry your gear, for instruments, for studio time, for distribution. At most, they’ll have their domain costs (which artists often have themselves) and, if they’re interested in live music, their travel to the venue and entry price (though obviously we do our best to get them on guest lists).

The way I see it, the independent music scene is somewhat symbiotic in nature. Artists need blogs to reach a wider audience. But, make no mistake, blogs need what we create to have something to write about.

Still doesn’t sound so bad? Try using Submit Hub, and see how far it gets you. My experience, and that of those I’ve spoken to, is that blogs will find something to dislike about you enough not to post. I’ve had incredibly complimentary feedback with a “song declined” next to it. Music is a subjective thing, but when one blog criticises the thing that the next blog loves the most about the song (for example, my band having a “weak” singer with “powerful, soaring vocals”…that sort of thing is NOT subjective) you start to get the feeling that this is literally just a cash cow for these people.

What exactly is stopping someone from making a fake blog, buying thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, setting themselves up on Submit Hub, and waiting for the money to start rolling in? They’d only have to write about 1 in 10 artists to have a pretty desirable rate on Submit Hub, and they’re up-front costs would be minimal to the profit they receive. We all know that blogs are under nowhere near as much scrutiny in that sort of thing as artists would be, and a large wedge of the artist community will look at those stats with good faith, partly because we don’t have the time to check it out, having to hit so many outlets because everyone’s got their hands in our pockets, and partly because, to us, it’s only $1 at a time. But that adds up quickly.

I could go on. Part of me is tempted to, but it disgusts me. The sad fact of the matter is that it’s likely the most efficient way to work. A boycott would never be successful, as it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and there are surely many artists who would see their opportunity to slip in with their submissions while the rest of us hold out. We’re not unionised in the way that more classic industries are, and it continues to be our undoing.

 

Submit Hub - A Scam

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