Writers for music websites have it hard. Their inboxes are usually stuffed to capacity with hundreds of capable artists looking to get their music featured on the website. Nine times out of ten, it’s almost impossible to get through every submission and show each one equal attention so they either pick based on whichever they come across first, or they avoid submissions altogether. This draws the ire of artists who believe that they’ve been slighted based on a personal vendetta that doesn’t actually exist.

I’ve been in that position. Over the years, I’ve written for a number of publications that take music submissions. Here at 1AMRadio, I check songs to place on playlists still. When my inbox gets full, I know that I can’t reasonably check out every email – especially since there are publicists, interview requests, and other types of inquiries for different kinds of businesses inside as well. So often times, unless I know you personally, or you reach out to me on social media, I may not get a chance to check out the music you’ve sent me.

As it turns out, I’m not alone. Many music journalists that write about upcoming music usually find themselves having to make tough choices about what they check out and post because of time constraints. Also, the sheer volume of what they get means that they can be very particular of what they can endorse. One thing that you can guarantee, though, is that any music website with a submissions corner nearly never gets checked. You’ll have much better odds submitting to writers directly, even if they are busier.

I spoke with five music journalists about what makes them check out music.

Greg (@Gregisonfire) – Staff Writer at ELEVATOR, Hilly Dilly, and Fresh Out The Mint

When I personally find music, I wait to hear something super exciting or risk taking. Whether it’s by production, melodies, or instruments – I’m looking to get wowed. If it’s getting referred to me, I’m taking into consideration my relationship with the person who is recommending it to me and how much I trust their tastes. It’s normally someone who also look for the artistic risk-takers or the perfectionists because I know that they are looking for the same stuff that I’m looking for.

Jasmine Johnson (@_issajasthing) – Editor at Respect Magazine and Contributor at The Source

What makes me check out someone’s music is the originality and the message behind it. The quality of the sound and how it can depict a perception of their movie about the story of their life is important. For example; Valee has an original sound and represents the city of Chicago, but many hip-hop artists bite his sound.

Kendall (@TheDopestNWord_) – Editor-In-Chief of VirginiaGotNow

The first thing that makes me check out someone’s music isn’t qualified by “stats” (retweets, plays, followers). It often starts with how the artist approaches me, whether it be email or direct message. It should have some air of respect or professionalism. First impressions! From there, it’s free game. Things like conceptual cover art and unique marketing tactics draw me to that artist. Moving images/music videos allows the artist to be seen as more intriguing and serious about marketing their art, versus, say simple spamming of SoundCloud links.

Mally Mack (@MallyMack_) – Editor-In-Chief of SWIDLIFE

I think that it’s important to keep the artwork in-line with the music because that look/feel will already start to intrigue the potential listeners. It’s essential that the response of their music matches with that of their artwork, because it’s the primary visual representation of their work. Artwork can be as pivotal as the music and certainly serves multiple purposes so I believe artists shouldn’t half-ass this process.

Jake Markow (@jakemarkow) – Staff Writer at ELEVATOR and Dirty Glove Bastard

There’s nothing in particular that will make me check out someone’s music. I listen to music nonstop so if I see something that I haven’t heard before, I’ll listen to it. Getting recommended new music by friends is always a huge push to listen to a new artist, but I’ll listen to almost anything that comes across my timeline or SoundCloud feed.



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