As someone who manages a record label – one which has shifted entirely to digital online releases after initially pursuing a semi-traditional vinyl-release format – I am deluged with email messages from musicians, groups and individual artists intent on having me or someone in my organization listen to their demos. The requests seem to come in waves, with 5 to 10 a week forming the crest of the onslaught, gradually dying down to a few per month until a new surge once again presents itself.
Now, I have no issue with artists promoting their own music. In fact, I feel that this is the single most important responsibility that an artist has, after of course the creation of their art. There was a time, before it became impractical due to time constraints, where I responded personally to every request, no matter how off-base the content might have been to our specific musical niche (primarily electronic). I still feel somewhat guilty when a new submission hits my inbox and I don’t take the time to send the musician a message.
However, there is something that many music makers neglect to consider when vying for the attention of record label personnel. In a word, convenience. I receive a healthy percentage of submissions from artists across a variety of genres in the form of Rapidshare links. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rapidshare, this service provides free uploads and downloads of any file, so long as the downloader doesn’t mind answering a skill-testing question and waiting up to 60 seconds to view ads before the download begins.
Here’s a tip: record company workers are busy people, and they have absolutely no interest in jumping through hoops in order to listen to your music, no matter how amazing it might be. In a world where registering your own domain name and setting up web hosting can be done in as little as 10 minutes for a minimal cost, why put a barrier like this between the fruits of your hard work and its intended audience? Not only does it make you look unprofessional, but it also sends the message that you value the time of the person you are sending your music to far less than your own. Not a great way to start a relationship.
This same advice applies to those who host their tracks at one of the many free services that allow members to log in and listen at no cost. If I have to sign up for something in order to hear the music you want me to eventually release, then it’s not going to happen.
In short – sending direct links to downloadable files is one of the best ways to ensure that your tunes will actually make it to the ears of the right people at a record label. Keep it simple, and keep it direct.