Music ‘Zines and Indie Promo Submissions. Slam dunk or no-go?

Old-school music store - Indie Promo Submissions

Music Marketing works both ways. Bands should excel at it when launching a record – and the RMR crew wrote about this often thorny issue pretty extensively already. It is after all the lifeblood running through the veins of that music business of theirs. And this is exactly what it truly is, a business. It needs to be managed, cajoled, and strategically administered. Apart from letting your artistic creativity run free, of course. Not an easy job description at best, and it is thus understandable that not many are really good at every facet of it.

In contrast, music reviewers are part and parcel of any current music marketing strategy. They provide bona fide1) input to those bands and labels – and hopefully help drive sales. Yet, the music industry – as a whole – somehow conveniently decided that this activity must remain a free endeavor. But that’s a debate for another day, lest I get my hackles up and we don’t want that.

Now, all those webzines and blogs are at the receiving end of sometimes hundreds of promo submissions per day, and RMR here ain’t no exception. It’s an endless flow of music that clogs your review pipe and eardrums with a ceaseless array of all kinds of rocky delights. Good, bad – or truly indifferent.

New records reach any ‘zine basically from three different parts of the music business. These are labels, promotion agencies (PR), and indie promo submissions from bands directly. Outfits that fancy going down that thorny path to glory on their own.

And it is about the latter that we’d like to talk about today.

Meme - You send me your music, but you do it without respect

I recently lurked about an online discussion that centered around that very subject. Some arguments seemed to suggest that those direct indie band submissions weren’t acceptable for some reason. Only labels or PRs could possibly qualify. Which is – of course – total garbage, not to put too fine a point on it.

It is of course also true that labels and PRs usually sport a pretty good structure and – as a reviewer – you know exactly what to expect. It talks to my lazy ass to know what information to find at what spot in the file. Thanks to the Haulixes of this complicated music world of ours. And this despite some big labels that behave in a prissy way and treat the reviewers’ community like thieves that are out to steal ‘their’ music. And Loki forbid if you put out a negative point of view. But that’s – again – fodder for yet another discussion.

Now, for this ‘zine at least, independent music morphed into an important pillar, a constant source of unknown and freshly minted material. Unsigned bands that sometimes lack most of those marketing skills and come at you in an unstructured way. And – by this token – they refuse to even use a PR. But underground as they might be, their wares often are excellent. Only they don’t quite know it yet.

It has thus become unwritten policy over at the review committee’s HQ to give the underground a long and hard look. Serving the mainstream is great for clicks, potential revenue, and SEO, of course. But the discovery of new and independent bands should – at least – have a firm place in the strategy of any music webzine. In other words, accepting indie promo submissions will undoubtedly enrich the quality of yer blog. And this despite the fact that a reviewer quite often needs to put in some extra work to straighten things somewhat.

But – in the end, it’s all worth it. Take that from one who’s constantly returning to that particular well. And we’ll never tire of it. So keep them coming, ye bands out there. Slam Dunk!


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