Submitting music to the show: dos and don'ts #4
So far in this series of blogs offering advice on getting your music played on my radio show we have looked at, in part one, researching the shows you intend to send your music to and realising the importance of being brilliant; in part two, how 'being yourself' can give you a distinct advantage, and in last week's magnum opus, how vital it is to be your own worst critic.
I baulk at the amount of words that have been hacked to death thus far, so this week's final instalment is going to be brief and to the point. I promise.
DO think carefully about your band's name.
Check to see if another band is already using your name. Any kind of confusion or ambiguity further down the line is likely to be disadvantageous to all. Try to pick something that isn't likely to get buried under tens of thousands of other Google results. 'Free Porn' might strike you as a punkish and subversive name, but no one will ever (have the energy left to) find you. If you have a vaguely riqsué name spam filters will swallow you whole before you get anywhere near the likes of me.
DO send your best song / track. You know which one it is. Be honest with yourself, here. Very honest. And only send one or two tracks. See the opening paragraphs of part three for an idea of the amount of music I receive. And that's just little old me. Huw Stephens must feel like one of Elton John's pillows, with the countless thousands of expensively-transplanted hairs deposited on the pillow playing the metaphorical part of the amount of tracks he finds himself tangled in every morning.
I should make it clear that Huw played no active part in that analogy. I've never heard him moan about the music he receives. That is my domain.
DO submit your music according to the following guidelines. If you send it any other way I can't guarantee that I will hear it. Please submit your recordings either as (method of delivery in order of preference, high to low) .mp3's / download links to email@example.com; tracks submitted via the BBC Introducing Uploader; CDs/vinyl posted to Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales, The Centre for the Creative Industries, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, LL11 2AW. Links sent via Facebook will be buried and lost before I get a chance to see them. Seriously.
DO include a short, factual biography with an e-mail address and contact number. DON'T (important one, this) overcook your biography. You're not double glazing salesmen. Bands who hype themselves are invariably rubbish. Trust your music. If you don't, it's not ready to send.
DO keep the postage price down by leaving the glossy press kit out of the envelope. See point above about self-hyping bands. I've never played a band who sent me an 'EPK'. I want to think you spend all your time living life intensely, then writing about it, not wazzocking about in front of a camera. Getting a (crap) stylist won't elevate you to the heights of the musicians you most admire. Look as outrageous as you like, but make it evident that that is of less importance to you than the music.
DO ensure that your CDs have your band name and a contact e-mail written on them. Avoid stickers that are going to rip off in my CD drive and knacker it, please. Ensure that your .mp3's are tagged correctly. I have tens of thousands of CDs scattered around my room, if I drop a blank CDR it's lost and unidentifiable forever. No joke. My box bedroom floor is a Bermuda Triangle of blank CDs, my hard drive a Bermuda Triangle-squared of 'Untitled' .mp3's. If I can't identify it, I can't play your music or get back to you.
DO be civil with me. I'm a very lonely man and spend most of my existence forging friendships with attachments that arrive in my inbox. I will be honest with you because you deserve that honesty. If you're not ready for some constructive criticism, it's best not to send me your music. I'm a human being. If you're rude (which happens very rarely, thankfully), I could lie and say that I'll be the bigger man, forgive you and support you in the future. But rude people never earn good favour.
If you don't agree with any criticism you receive that's your prerogative, of course, but know that it's been offered after a great deal of thought. I know how hard this is. I know because I was rubbish at it, despite my best efforts. If only someone like me had told me a few home truths, I might not have wasted the best part of my twenties strutting around like a twit (feel free to use your own vowel) making all of the mistakes, and then some, I detail in these blogs.
This has been a long, long trek. I've been mostly positive... lots of do's, a few don'ts. To finish, then, a simple, stark, stone tablet of negativity: DON'T think that abiding to a pompous list of do's and don'ts is going to act as a substitute for inspiration. There are no rules in rock 'n' roll 'n' rap 'n' reggae 'n' folk 'n' punk 'n' pop 'n' metal 'n' blues 'n' country 'n', er, futurebass (well, I had to add at least one genre term that will date this article within minutes of it being published).
I do hope this advice has been of some use, but it's all about the music and how good you make it.
Over to you.
If you have any questions or comments about these blogs, feel free to leave them below. I'll answer them at the first opportunity.