An open letter to everyone and anyone who sends me their music

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

Dear Aspiring Musician,

Thank you for sending a sample of your music, even though it came in the form of 27 megabytes’ worth of 320 kbps MP3 files that gummed up the inbox across all my devices. I appreciate that you want me to hear everything in the highest quality audio — I mean, you did put a lot of effort into these recordings, right? But in the future, please send links to external sources like Spotify or SoundCloud so my data charges don’t go through the roof. Thanks in advance.

I wish I could tell you that I’m definitely going to listen to your songs, but that would be a lie.

On any given week, I receive somewhere around 800 submissions just like yours from artists, managers, labels, and publicists, all asking for consideration for radio airplay, a blog feature, or some sort of in-depth critique of the material. This is in addition to new music served up daily by my Spotify Release Radar, recommendations from Apple Music, stuff that bubbles up on YouTube, new release notes in the plethora of daily newsletters I receive, and CDs that show up in the mail. (Yes, people still mail me CDs. Please stop.)

Even though keeping on top of what’s new is a major part of my job, the situation is overwhelming. There is just too much music out there. The pandemic has only exacerbated things as musicians spent their quarantine months writing and recording new material. And because it’s so easy to distribute your music to a worldwide audience, everyone seems to be doing it. (We’ll tackle whether they should be making music in the first place in a moment.)

Consider that Spotify recently announced that 60,000 new tracks were being uploaded to the platform every day. It won’t be long before we see a new song uploaded every second. And just to underscore everything, it’s estimated that 20 per cent of all tracks uploaded to Spotify have never been streamed even once. If you have time, check out a site called Forgotify, which will provide you with a stream of millions of songs that to date have only been heard by their creators.

Now some tough love. 

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “An open letter to everyone and anyone who sends me their music

  • May 3, 2021 at 10:32 am
    Permalink

    This is awesome.
    Like sending a demo reel to an NHL team, hoping to skip over the trials and proving grounds of the various stages of sports ascension.
    Well said!

    Reply
  • May 3, 2021 at 3:04 pm
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    Nice going, you killed Forgotify.com.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2021 at 7:32 pm
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    Hi Alan,
    Please feel free to forward any submissions, physical or digital, my way and I will weed through them and send you back the cream of the crop. Willing to work for duplicate promo vinyl releases that your shelf space deems expendable.
    Sincerely,
    Long time listener and reader,
    Mike

    Reply

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