We are into our 2nd run working with Reverb Nation in finding new artists to play and promote. Round 1 brought out some MAJOR scored in violet janine, grimmjack, moxie and the influence, and many many more and so much has been added to our rotation.
But finding these bands was tough. REAL tough. You've got a lot of crap to get through to find the good stuff and along the way you start to notice why you gloss over some and don't even listen to others and in the end, start to understand in depth as to why you will listen to a song again vs. hope to GOD you can forget that last bands name and you never lose a music lottery where you have to hear it again.
So, I thought I'd share some big reasons why over the years we've come to pick the bands we do pick to be on Renegade Radio and why we will turn bands away and some of the instant "hell to the no" things that people do that will get them kicked to the side of the road quickly.
First, understand when submitting your music, you are 1 of many and most people don't want to listen to 100000 songs if they don't have to, job or not. Oddly enough, you start looking for reasons to NOT listen and this is all centered around your branding. If you don't take all sides of your art seriously, you will fail.
Branding. Let me go heavy into this. Branding. Everything you do, everything you say, and every song you write becomes part of your brand. Every logo you go through, every bad photo you put out to represent you and so on is your brand. Take it seriously. Don't use a cool looking font no one can read for your logo. It's pointless and if i see a band title i can't even make out, 50/50 on whether or not i listen to the song or move on, finding a reason to kick you aside. Also, if you must use a font for your band logo, don't use a common "decorator" one.
If the VERY BEST PHOTO YOU HAVE is you on a small stage at a friends bar done with a 6 year old camera phone, DO NOT POST IT as your main/profile photo. that's 100% moving on to me and many more. If your music is worth it don't skimp out here as the visual will get the attention and your music should keep it. If the visual isn't there no one gets to the 2nd.
Now a biggie that is still a huge part of branding. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? What amazed me the most in getting our submissions from bands is the total lack of meta-data in the mp3 files. Why in the HELL would anyone go through this much trouble to write a song, go to the studio, produce it, create an mp3 for all to enjoy and when i put it in my mp3 player i get UNKNOWN for the band name.
Think about it - if you like a song and look at your mp3 player and see "unknown" are you going to hunt it down or move on? If you said move on, you win. That song better change my soul and take me out of a heavily self inflicted darkness for me to want to go in and code your mp3 files for you. TAG YOUR FILES CORRECTLY. I have gotten to the point when a song is submitted and I see unknown, I delete it. Otherwise that goes into our rotation potentially and when someone looks at our player(s) and sees UNKNOWN we defeat the entire purpose of being here.
Getting unknown bands - known.
Another factor is the shotgun approach many take. We ask for songs to be submitted and we get hip hop, country, industrial disco folk songs, (that may be cool, anyone got one?) and so forth. It's as if they never EVER hit "play" to know what we support, what we play and if they are even a fit here. For Reverb Nation, we say ROCK and we get all kinds of non-rock submissions and when we have 4000 submissions to go through, yes we most certainly will put the ROCK filter on and widen out as necessary but if you're alternative, country, pop, rap or anything but ROCK/METAL and a touch of PUNK don't bother as it just gets discouraging to keep getting rejected.
I know it messed me up in high school. And college. Hell, the other day. ANYWAY - it's tough to keep submitting music and never hearing positive words back at you. Yes I did listen to some of the pop cause I do personally like it. I had to reject all of it cause we don't play it and there were some good songs I said no to simply for it.
Know your target audience.
Now, if you have targeted your audience of stations you'd like to be played on, got your branding in order with professional looking logos, photos, and quality mix songs, what's next? Take an active interest in the station / place you're aiming for. Write them and follow up. Like their pages and the like. You may still get a no but you've done all you can at this point short of stalking. No we don't recommend that either.
So basically to sum this up:
1) Branding. Don't use decorator fonts no one can read, use quality photos / logos for main traffic areas, tag your mp3 files and have a professional looking site where people can find you. This is just to be at a good starting point, not the finish line but at least you're now ahead of 80% of the rest who don't do this first.
2) Targeting. Pay attention to the big guys who can help the most for one, but also to the small subsites out there like Renegade who promote bands on social media, writes and reviews here, live shows and broadcasts and so on. Find stations like this out there "in the scene" and work with them for mutual growth also.
3) Follow up. When we've had people care enough to follow up we work with them if we can at all times. Working with you may not be playing your song all the time or even ever, but it may be to tell you why and give feedback to help you understand and grow. We've been at this for 15+ years and have seen a lot come and go so our experience does carry value. If you targeted stations like this who have been around for awhile and have a proven record of support for you - work with them and I know they would appreciate it also.
There's so much more we can get into but much if you think about it would fall under these bigger umbrellas. We don't like turning bands away that work their asses off and we try not to. But if you're not working your ass off and if you're not taking at least these things seriously, why should anyone take you seriously?
Last bit of advice to metal bands - ever notice a shitton of skulls for logos out there? After a few hundred it blends. :) Be different with it if you must, please.
Good luck and hope some of these tips help you get selected next time you are asking to be played!