LANDR BLOG

Music GearMusic Promotion

SubmitHub Founder Jason Grishkoff Talks Blogs, DIY Promotion and Artist Discovery

SubmitHub Founder Jason Grishkoff Talks Blogs, DIY Promotion and Artist Discovery

Promoting your music effectively on a DIY basis is tricky.

Watching big artists pour thousands into massive campaigns can make the limitations of a low budget seem hopeless.

But there are some tried and true techniques that all artists can take advantage without breaking the bank.

One of the most effective is submitting your music to playlists and blogs to share with their audience.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/SubmitHubInterview_JasonGrishkoff_portrait-1024x513.jpg

Reaching out to them properly used to be a big job in its own right. That’s why Indie Shuffle founder Jason Grishkoff created SubmitHub to streamline the process.

We sat down with Jason to talk to about the blogosphere, DIY music promotion and the future of artist discovery.

Q: Hi Jason. Like many musicians, I have vivid memories of sending hundreds of cold emails to music blogs hoping for a post or review. It was difficult, tedious and I barely ever got a response.

SubmitHub seems to have eliminated all that while simultaneously rescuing curators from the endless pileup of pitches in their inbox.

When did you realize the blog submissions model was broken?

I started my music blog Indie Shuffle back in 2008-2009.

At the beginning I was just finding songs I liked on BitTorrent websites and I really had no idea there was a blog culture.

But I quickly found myself on Elbo.ws, which was kind of the precursor to Hypem.

There was a really nice community of other blogs there and we’d exchange tips on how to generate more traffic and get more awareness.

When Hypem took off and Indie Shuffle got added I started to get emails from musicians, managers, publicists and record labels.

When Hypem took off and Indie Shuffle got added I started to get emails from musicians, managers, publicists and record labels.

And I thought, “hey this is cool, they’re just sending me music to put up on my website.”

But a couple years later it got out of hand. I was receiving hundreds of emails a day.

And so I set up a fake submissions address and just said I can’t deal with it anymore. It’s all rubbish, nothing’s personalized and everything was getting lost in the BCC lists.

It was clear that people didn’t want to build a relationship. They just wanted to use me to get on Indie Shuffle. And I wasn’t even really making any money as a blogger. Not enough to do it full time.

That was 2013. 2015 was when I started SubmitHub.

I think the idea was spurred by the fact that Indie Shuffle was no longer a viable business for me to be employed by and I had to come up with a different idea.

I was playing around with all kinds of different business ideas that weren’t very inspiring and I was still faced with this problem of a completely overflowing inbox.

So I decided to try to tackle that with a smooth blog submission system.

Unlimited mastering &amp; distribution, 1200 royalty-free samples, 30+ plugins and more! <a href="https://join.landr.com/landr-studio/?utm_campaign=acquisition_platform_en_us_studio-generic-new-blog-ad&amp;utm_medium=organic_post&amp;utm_source=blog&amp;utm_content=left-hand-generic-ad&amp;utm_term=general">Get everything LANDR has to offer with LANDR Studio.</a>

Unlimited mastering & distribution, 1200 royalty-free samples, 30+ plugins and more! Get everything LANDR has to offer with LANDR Studio.

Q: One reason blogs became as influential as they did is the success of aggregators like Hype Machine. How do you view the legacy of Hype Machine in formalizing the blog system?

Don’t get me wrong, Hype Machine was great for blogs. I don’t think Indie Shuffle would be where it was without it.

And it was incredibly influential for a time. I definitely heard stories of record labels where every Friday they would sit around to discuss the popular chart on Hype machine.

But in my mind a lot of of its success was due to the fact that you could game it. If you were a publicist you got pretty good at figuring out the formulas and how to get ahead on it.

And since the blogs had stopped paying attention to their submissions, they just started watching what other bloggers were posting on Hypem.

And from there it just became a rehash of the same music. Even when I wanted to find new music, I would go to Hype Machine. As a blogger on Hype Machine! It’s kind of ironic.

A couple of my writers were still responding to publicists, but in general small independent acts rarely got a chance to get any sort of coverage.

A couple of my writers were still responding to publicists, but in general small independent acts rarely got a chance to get any sort of coverage.

When I enabled SubmitHub and starting paying attention to submissions again I thought, “wow this is back to the origins of why I was music blogging in the first place.”

With SubmitHub you finally have the bloggers actually listening to everyone’s music. It doesn’t matter if you are represented by a massive major label or if this is your first ever single.

Your song has just as good a shot as anyone else’s. What that means is that the bloggers aren’t paying attention to what any other blogs are posting nor are they paying attention to what hype machine’s posting.

They’re all just focused on the fact that they’re all getting 20-50 submissions per day in their feed, and that’s what they’re paying attention to.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/SubmitHubInterview_capture-1-1024x513.jpg

Q: SubmitHub does an amazing job of balancing the needs of both curators AND artists. Did the ideas behind the platform come more from the perspective of one side or the other?

It was a natural progression for sure. It’s been about three and a half years since I kicked off SubmitHub and what’s cool is that I’m the only developer.

It’s been about three and a half years since I kicked off SubmitHub and what’s cool is that I’m the only developer.

Our team is still really small. As the guy who does all the customer support and all the development I can see exactly where people’s pain points are what the users’ issues are.

For example, a very common complaint that would come up is that the genres didn’t match well.

People would say, “I sent this person a hip-hop track but they’ve never posted hip-hop, why are you telling me to send to them?”

And I would say well, I’m not telling you to send to them—they said they like hip-hop and it’s your decision ultimately.

Ok so that’s a bit of a problem, People are obviously frustrated so I’ll try to solve it.

So I’d go in and ask well how much do they like hip-hop? Sometimes even if these blogs have hip-hop enabled you probably shouldn’t send them that, but here’s a blog who totally loves hip-hop based on their history.

Taking this kind of information and trying to solve the pain points for the artists was definitely part of that progression.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/SubmitHubInterview_capture3-1024x513.jpg

Q: Music promotion platforms that rely on paid transactions from artists are sometimes viewed with suspicion. How do you balance bloggers’ and artists’ expectations with a sustainable business model?

As they should be! [laughs] This actually gets to something about SubmitHub that I feel like has been taken out of context in the past.

People have asked me why bloggers like SubmitHub and I say besides the fact that it makes their lives a lot easier, they use it because of the money!

People jump on that but it’s part of the reason that I rolled out the monetization component.

If SubmitHub existed without any sort of premium and I was a blogger on there getting 50 submissions a day, I would have almost no incentive to actually check them.

My only incentive would be that there’s potentially good music here that I could share with my audience. But for 99% of these curators, that audience isn’t generating them any money.

So premium credits are really a way of keeping bloggers engaged, active and feeling like it’s actually worth their time to spend 2 hours everyday going through these submissions.

The money is a small amount. It’s anywhere between $0.50 and $1.50 USD for each submission.

SubmitHub keeps what’s left and at the end of the day if you’re going to argue that $0.50 is payola well…[laughs]…it’s hard for me to counter that if you’re really stuck on the idea that it is.

But that’s the basic rule of the platform. Anyone on SubmitHub absolutely cannot have any form of payola. They get kicked off if we catch them and we’re always running sting operations.

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/SubmitHubInterview_capture2-1024x513.jpg

Q: SubmitHub offers connections to everything from traditional music blogs to Twitch streamers. What are your insights on which channels will become the most important for DIY promotion?

Well everyone is still talking about independent playlists.

I still get Indie Shuffle emails and they’ll email me asking to be on my Spotify playlist. And I’m like, “hey I’m an OG blog! And you want to be on my Spotify playlist?”

But I think it’s becoming increasingly hard for them to stay relevant because of how many fake playlisters are out there.

For myself I still really see the value in a Hype machine campaign. I would filter SubmitHub to hit every single Hypem blog I could and start out with a premiere request.

Even if your goal is to get on Spotify playlists the blogs still matter because the Spotify editors pay a lot of attention to them, especially Hypem blogs.

In the end though there’s no one clear path to success. To reference Chris Hillard’s recent quote from a piece on Pigeons and Planes, there still isn’t a formula that can find an artist before the formula does.

If you’re doing a promo campaign today SubmitHub can help but you still need to tell your friends, your family and hit it from as many angles as you can.

All I can say is that if someone offers you placement for money, turn the other way. No matter what, even if it looks good.

All I can say is that if someone offers you placement for money, turn the other way. No matter what, even if it looks good.

There’s a reason that’s illegal in the radio industry!

Q: Any other advice for artists promoting their own music aside from using SubmitHub?

Not being an artist myself, you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt, but today’s state of music allows listeners to dive into their specific niche.

Your strategy should be to find a niche of listeners people who care about your music and are focused on that, rather than looking for some runaway success.

What is my music? Is it ambient drone? Is it christian soundtrack music? Whatever. You can get in on that and really focus on that.

Q: What’s next for SubmitHub?

We’re working on multi-language support which is incredibly exciting. I’ve got a translation system I’m working on that will help me get the whole entire site into 10 or 20 different languages, which could open things up a lot.

There’s also the Hot or Not section. It’s a feature for artists to rate other artists. I coded it just for fun over christmas and it’s totally taken off.

We’re up to 3000-4000 ratings a day, so I’ll be giving that a bit more attention to see it where it goes.

It’s like a whole different product within SubmitHub, but people really like it!

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.

@Michael Hahn

Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.

Keep up with the LANDR Blog.

Latest posts

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.

@Michael Hahn

Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.

Keep up with the LANDR Blog.

Latest posts