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How to Submit a Music Demo

Recently finished a demo that you want more than just your fanbase and network to hear? The list of self-promo options for up-and-coming artists is almost endless. To *hopefully,* make it a little easier, we’ve curated some of the best ways to get your new music heard by brand-new audiences. We also included tips on making a positive first impression with labels, playlisters, promoters, and other industry figures with a loyal following of music fans that are always hunting for the next big thing.

How to Submit a Music Demo

Submitting a demo isn’t rocket science, but it is a fine art if you want your campaigns to succeed. Ideally, when submitting a demo, you will have all of these boxes ticked:

–             Create an EPK with a press release, artist photos/cover art, social media links, and a link to your music.

–             Practice your pitch. Hint, leave your ego for your live show, and walk the fine line between friendliness and professionalism while introducing yourself and your music.

–             Know your audience and focus on the quality of your pitch rather than the quantity of frantic half-baked emails sent!

–             Don’t make it all about you! Want to submit original music to a label? Talk about bands already signed to that label, or mention how your ethos matches theirs!

Where to Submit a Music Demo

In our digital era of music that is extensively lamented, it isn’t only record labels that can take artists to new heights. So, if your original music doesn’t scream P R O F I T to a label owner, not all is lost!

You can submit your original music demo to independent music blogs and magazines which fit your niche. Try to gain the attention of influencers. Bid for a spot on a relevant playlist. Plug your demo to indie radio stations, or if you have money to throw at your promotion, you can invest in some PR help.

If you want to go it alone, if your music is good enough, there are plenty of ways to boost your sales and streams while bolstering your fanbase. Although we can’t stress this enough, make sure your music is worth it first. If you can’t stay objective, find someone that can, preferably someone that knows the industry and isn’t your mum.

Some of the best-known sites for independent and unestablished artists to submit their demos to include:

–             Indie Underground is always crying out for creative, substance-fuelled, and melody-focused music.

–             A&R Factory, we are recognised as one of the top 10 UK music blogs for independent artists for a reason!

–             Obscure Sound: an online blog which has been running since 2006 and repping some of the most promising up-and-coming artists.

–             Various Small Flames: for artists that want to make a connection with their music, this site which celebrates home-recorded indie music, is a must.

–             Indie Shuffle; instead of running as a blog format, Indie Shuffle is a hybrid between a streaming service and a blog.

–             Submit Hub; in just one click of the ‘submit a song’ button, your single is transported to a network of indie music curators.

–             High Clouds; if you are looking for airplay as an unestablished artist, this multimedia platform is hailed as the Holy Bible for music junkies!

Top Tips When Writing Indie Music?

In this how-to guide, we will assume that you’ve got all of the songwriting basics and structuring covered, and you are looking to take your songwriting to the next level.

We have curated some of the best tips from award-winning artists leading by example in the charts. Unfortunately, we can’t help you find your signature indie sound, but we can give you the best pointers when it comes to how to write indie music that catches on and becomes meaningful to the masses.

How to Write Indie Music: 5 Top Tips

  1. Start with Lyrical Sincerity and Build From It.

Do you want to create a hit song, or do you want to encase raw emotion in a hook-filled, euphoria driving track that will resonate with people on a massive scale? If you’re in the first camp, change your attitude to indie. Pop artists may be able to get away with insincerity, but in indie, it stinks. For artists aiming for candid lyricism, start by writing a poem without a major focus on syllable patterns or end rhymes. Let the emotion flow before you start thinking about how the verses will form and how the vocal melodies will sound. In other words, write with your heart, edit with your mind.

  1. Give Your Track Entrancing Elements

Some indie tracks, you can’t help dancing to them – or at least physically appeasing rhythmic pulses by bobbing your head or tapping your feet, and that is no coincidence. Just think about the most enlivening tracks by New Order, Keiser Chiefs, The Killers, The Smiths etc. Whatever your indie brand is, you can always put a hypnotic groove behind it.

  1. Check Your Vibe Before You Head to the Studio

This tip isn’t just the usual new-age hippy ‘good vibes only’ toxic rhetoric; the vibe of your single really does matter. Always pay attention to your mood while you are writing and recording the single. Make sure your emotions are in line with what you are conveying. If you want to create an upbeat track, if you’re overly earnest in the process of writing and production, your listeners will instantly know about it.

  1. Accept That Not Every Song You Write Has to Work

Do chart-topping, award-winning songwriters record every single that they write? No. Why? Because some tracks are better than others, and it is not until songs are finished that a songwriter can see if it’s a real gem or not. This process of writing songs to discard them may sound like a waste of time and talent, but it’s anything but. With each new song written, something new can be learnt along the way, and songwriters only become great via experience.

  1. Allow Your Song to Evolve in the Writing Process

If you’ve had an idea for your next song, don’t get too attached to the aural dream you initially had once you get to work on it. Some songs feel like the easiest jigsaw puzzle in the world to piece together, while others feel like an intricate and explorative process, and you may as well be learning how to defuse bombs. The trick is to allow your song to evolve as you get closer to finalising it. You can always return to your initial idea if it doesn’t pan out.

If you have an indie demo that you’d like to get in the ears of an experienced A&R team, submit your music to our new indie music blog for a full, fair and thoughtful dissection of your track.

What Is the Alternative Music Genre?

For some artists, the only descriptor or genre that comes close to describing their music is the word alternative. As more artists start to find the redundancy in genre constraints, more artists are using the eccentric catch-all genre as an alternative to lumping themselves into a category in which they scarcely fit.

As a genre, it doesn’t give away many indications of the sonic experience of their sound. It simply indicates that it falls away from the mainstream. A lack of mainstream aural tendencies doesn’t always mean that it lacks commercial potential – although the experimental nature of alternative music often means that it is inaccessible to what many consider the mainstream. Take prog-rock tracks that last for 9-minutes compared to the 3-minute perfect pop songs, for example.

Alternative genres include shoegaze, goth-rock, steampunk and no-wave, amongst many others; there will never be a definitive list; however, these genres start to paint a picture of the soundscapes that earn alternative status.

What is the definition of alternative music?

By the most simplistic definition, alternative music deviates from popular trends. As popular trends change, so does alternative music by proxy. Alternative music is also music that has lost its mainstream audience to the decades. It was probably pretty trendy to keep dusting off your Loveless record by My Bloody Valentine in the 90s. In 2021, the shoegazey noise rock masterpiece has fallen into the alternative camp.

The phrase started to become commonplace in America during the 80s; it was a way to describe the acts that offered an alternative to hair metal and pop. After music by the likes of the College Rock Gods, R.E.M. featured relentlessly on college radio stations throughout the 80s, national radio stations and record labels started to catch on and see the value in the alternative music industry. This meant that the rise of indie-rock and alt-rock happened simultaneously.

In America, the alternative music movement started with alt-rock; as a general rule, alt-rock was a derivative of punk or rock. Some of the best examples are Nirvana with their grungy sound and Sonic Youth with their harsh, discordant and endlessly enlivening experimental nature. On the other side of the pond, the punk rock movement in the UK gave way to the alternative music scene in Britain in the 70s.

To date, the most influential alternative artists include Radiohead, Joy Division, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Pearl Jam, Jane’s Addiction and The Jesus Mary Chain. And alternative music is so much more than a chapter in music history. There are plenty of upcoming alternative artists making waves with their less than archetypal tonal palettes.

You can take Nadine Shah and her jazzy pop-noir sound, Amanda Palmer and her cabaret punk theatrics, Hands Off Gretel with their infectious grunge-punk cross-over style, Empathy Test with their gothy EBM earworms, and Red Rum Club with their Tarantino-Esque Western vibes for the perfect example.

We’re always on the hunt for new artists that are pushing the boundaries with their experimental sound, creating fusion tracks, or simply refusing to follow the rules of convention. Submit alternative music to our award-winning blog that is frequented by label owners, playlist curators, and other major influencers in the alternative music industry.

How Do I Submit My Music to Your Blog?

Submitting music to A&R Factory has been made as easy as possible. To help you feel confident with your submission, and other submissions that you will make with your demo, we have outlined some of the best tips to help the submission process run smoothly.

How to send music to blogs: 5 top tips

  1. Get Familiar with the Submission Guidelines

Each music blog runs its submission process differently. There will always be an appropriate channel to send your submission through. To get your demo reviewed on our award-winning top 10 UK site, head over to the submit demo page on our website and fill out all of the appropriate fields. Other blogs will accept submission via email. Unless music blogs explicitly ask for submissions on social media, avoid using it as a method of contact.

  1. Get Your Press Material Ready First

Not every artist has the money to pay a professional photographer for their band/artist photos or a visual artist for their cover art. But always do your best within your means when providing music blogs with cover art or press photos. Avoid sending grainy selfies or random images to accompany your review. Yes, it does happen.

  1. Give Enough Info in Your Bio – But Don’t Go Overboard

When it comes to how to send music to blogs successfully, perfecting your bio before submitting it is a vital stage in the process. Think of your bio as your first impression. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger, blurt out 3,000 words, and expect them to pick out the important bits. Hopefully, you wouldn’t be unforthcoming and unenthused when someone asks you about yourself either.

Make sure you’ve always got the basics covered in your bio, plus all of your bragging points. Include impressive streaming stats, previous airplay, interviews, gigs etc. If you can’t get excited when you’re talking about your music, how do you expect others to get excited? Even if it’s early days in your career and you haven’t had too many highlights, you have room to make a good impression by talking about what is different about you, what inspires you, how you want the listener to feel.

  1. Send the Right Link to Your Music

This one *should* go without saying, but there are plenty of pitfalls that people fall into here. Firstly, avoid sending a pre-save link with no mention of the release date of the music. Secondly, if you are sending a private link on YouTube, make sure that whoever has the link can access the video and it is not set to private. If you have sent a private SoundCloud link, do not take down the track while waiting for a review. If you do need to take down the SoundCloud link for any given reason, update the blog with a new link.

  1. Where Possible, Send New Content.

Fresh music content is what allows music blogs to thrive. Where possible, avoid sending old music. If you do want to submit old material to garner hype around a new music release, let the music blog know about it. That way, the reviewers will have a better angle to spin your music review. And as a final note, always send your demos to the appropriate blogs.

Hopefully, we have covered all the bases for artists wondering how to submit music to hip hop blogs, indie blogs, rock blogs and multi-genre blogs. Once you’ve followed all our tips, your chances of your submission being successful at competitive blogs will be infinitely higher.

How Can I Develop Further as An Artist?

It may sound a little cliché, but each artist is their own journey of discovery. For some, the roadblocks will seem impassable at the first hurdle; for others, there will be a little engine trouble down the line that means some fine-tuning is needed.

With that said, experienced A&R reps and artist development executives have a wealth of experience behind them; checking in with them is often the best way to ensure smooth sailing. Below, we have curated some of our best tips for artist development success.

Four industry-approved tips on how to develop your style as an artist

  1. Grab a Slice of Humble Pie

If we had a pound for every time that we received a submission from an artist claiming to be a genius, a prodigy, or someone that can take a whole audience’s breath away with just one vocal note, we’d probably be richer than Elon Musk. More often than not, the aural bark doesn’t match the bite.

The point is, many artists can get wrapped up in the idea that they’re the next big thing in any given genre once their career starts gaining traction. When it comes to a downtick in acclaim, it is no wonder that it can feel like a nosedive into career suicide for some. The trick is to stay humble. Recognise that there is always room for development in your creative abilities and your brand identity.

  1. Work with the Best Producers

Producers can make or break a record. Usually, they do the former. Every artist starts with an idea of what the final product should sound like when they enter a studio. If your production team deviate from the aural dream, don’t be quick to reject their idea. Now, we’re talking about *real* music producers here, the ones with years of studio experience behind them, not beatmakers that are found on YouTube. If you’re working with one of those, we’d highly recommend investing in a producer with some level of respect in the genre – they don’t always have to cost the earth.

  1. Invest in Artist Development Services

Music artist development services help to solidify and spotlight an artist’s brand. The reputation of artist development companies depends on their ability to guide musicians in the right direction. After all, an artist development company is only as attractive as their most successful campaign.

The award-winning artist development team at A&R Factory have launched many successful campaigns that increase the fans, followers and reach of artists. This is done through advising artists where to spend their money in relation to production and marketing and getting artists playlist spots and features in popular publications.

  1. Find Your Signature Sound

When asking yourself how you want to develop your style as an artist, are you striving for commercial success or the ability to be a better artist and songwriter? If you’re fixated on maximising your commercial potential, you will overlook one of the most valuable tools at your disposal; autonomy.

If David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Prince and Nirvana stayed inside the popularly coloured lines, would they have made it to the heights they did? Probably not. Those artists stirred something within their wide fanbases by disrupting the status quo – not the band – and finding something powerful and expressive within themselves. Why be Megadeath when you could be Metallica; why be Greta Van Fleet when you can be Led Zeppelin – you get the idea.

Ballin’ Jacks revive singalong indie with debut single ‘Success’

Ballin’ Jacks debut single ‘Success’ has been independently released by the London based indie outfit. Following on from their biggest and most successful shows over the summer, including Latitude Festival, the five piece are gearing up to release their debut album, due for release in summer 2022.

‘Success’ is quintessential British indie to it’s very core. With anthemic, sing along choruses that are hand crafted to be chanted from muddy fields during festival season and upbeat positivity throughout. While the vocals are heavily inspired by indie contemporaries such as Sam Fender, the instrumentation leans on inspiration from yesteryear, more specifically in the production of the track. The 60s style production lifts the single to a higher level, creating interesting wall-of-sound-esque dynamics, making the single much more powerful.

Although the song is intrinsically joyous, upbeat and full of hooks, the subject matter is more concerned with dry, sarcastic wit. This again lends itself to the British indie scene of the early 21st century, as this witty takedown of show business highlights their perceived flaws of the industry.

By using familiar chord progressions and warm production, every aspect of ‘Success’ demands that you smile and dance. While this can come across disingenuous in other examples, Ballin’ Jacks recorded the track in such a way that encapsulates their energy, you can feel how real this is to them.

With this hooky, sing along track cookie cut for the festival season, it will be no surprise to find Ballin’ Jacks on many a line up come the summer and if ‘Success’ is anything to go by, their debut album has the potential to be the sound of the summer.

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