Sending Us Music: How It Works

Moderation page on Soundcloud
Soundcloud moderation page for our Fresh On The Net dropbox

Have just spotted the following comment by Barrie Jones:

Hi Tom + team Freshnet.
Apologies for communicating about this via the comments section, but my browser doesn’t seem to recognise the email link. We sent a track to the Freshnet dropbox, it was the last batch, #50. Of 31 in total ours was the only one not chosen for the listening post and I just wondered if there was any particular reason? Naturally we thought and felt it was good enough musically for inclusion.. – was there some problem with any lyrical content? I’m aware that perhaps this might be a cause for omission.Of course, if it wasn’t chosen by simply on the grounds of like or not like or like least, then fair enough, but if there was some problem content wise, it would be most helpful for us to know for future reference.
Thanks in advance for any illumination you can provide.
Best regards
Barrie Jones + ‘BE’.

Just on a point of information, the “31 in total” that Barrie saw was down to a glitch on our Soundcloud page that always shows one extra phantom contributor to the group. The number of tracks actually submitted each week is always well over 100, which are seen only by our moderators. So to try and make things absolutely clear, here’s how our submission process works:

LISTENING POST/FRESH FAVES
Our Soundcloud dropbox is cleared every Monday around lunchtime and then opened for business. While the dropbox is open anyone can send us one tune and our team of moderators will listen to every single track that comes in. Simply send a track here and you can be sure that several people will listen to it, including me.

We generally get between 100 and 150 tracks sent in every week, most of which are pretty good. But unfortunately the maximum number we can expect the public to check out on our Listening Post is about 30. It would be impossible to go through deciding which tracks aren’t “good enough” – because so many of them actually are.

So instead, we have roughly 10 active moderators on duty each week, and each of them is only allowed to approve just 3 favourite tunes. That way we ends up with 30 approved tunes on the Listening Post, and every one of them will have been absolutely adored by somebody in the team. Over the weekend our readers listen to all 30 tracks and post their five favourites in the comments section. We add up the votes and review the 10 most popular tracks as our Fresh Faves every Monday around lunchtime. Then we clear the dropbox and start all over again.

RADIO PLAY
Separately from the above, I also check through everything that is submitted to our Soundcloud dropbox, regardless of whether it gets approved for the Listening Post, looking for tracks to include on my BBC Introducing Mixtape. There’s  room for roughly a dozen new tracks per mixtape, so again I can only include my absolute favourites from each batch. Those personal picks aren’t neccessarily “the best” tunes in the pile or the ones “most likely to become successful”. They’re just the tracks that – to my ears – jump out of the speakers as different, fresh, special, original.

Sometimes these favourites turn out not to have been uploaded to BBC Introducing, so they can’t be included in the mixtape. Sometimes they turn out to be other people’s favourites too, and end up as Fresh Faves here on the blog. But it doesn’t work the other way round: becoming a Fresh Fave won’t turn a track into one of my favourites, or get it included on the Mixtape. The two things are quite separate.

Obviously we get sent too much music to give individual feedback. But if you send your very best track to our dropbox during the times when it’s open, your music WILL get heard by the team and myself, regardless of whether it gets “approved” for our Listening Post. And if I like it, I’ll play it – it’s as simple as that.

If anything’s unclear, or if you have further questions – please post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More…

11 Comments

  1. Ash

    Hi Tom, just a wee query. I understand what you are saying about tunes standing out and he volume of submissions you get and how the process works but was wondering also does the quality of the recording have a bearing on things too? I am guessing if a recording isn’t well done and has hiss or other noise on it then it is not up to scratch for radio play but also does this apply to the selection process for the Listening Post picks too?
    Some folks can’t afford studio time or mastering to be done and I wonder does this hold back otherwise good music?

  2. Tom

    Hi Ash

    Recording quality has almost no bearing on what gets picked. If we hear a daring exceptional performance of a daring exceptional piece of songwriting, we’re not going to turn it down just because it isn’t a 96khz/24bit studio recording.

    WILLIE DICK’S “I Will Be Your Juliet” sounds as rough as old boots, yet it’s one of the most exciting tracks I’ve heard all year.

    If you’ve got a killer song idea then the average smartphone or camcorder is easily good enough quality to bang it down on Soundcloud. And if you haven’t got a killer song, then you could waste a small fortune recording it at Abbey Road with a load of top session players – and be no better off.

    There’s more about the importance of writing a breakthrough song here on the blog or if you have a spare hour, the video of of my BBC Introducing Songwriters Masterclass is here.

  3. Ash

    Thanks Tom,

    That is reassuring to know!I’ve previously been worried about submitting tunes as I don’t have any properly studio recorded stuff. Very DIY at the mo!

    Good to know you’re all substance over style :)

    Thanks for the info and links too, will check them out. You have a fantatic resource here for musicians.

  4. Hi Tom,

    What I would like clarification on please is the practical process. On Soundcloud, once I have changed the song title to the required format (I.e. Band name – song title) and uploaded to your Dropbox, I then change the format back on our Soundcloud profile to just “song title”. Will this affect how it appears to you? Should I leave it in that format say until the following Monday when I know it will have definitely been listened to?
    Also, re:BBC Introducing – our songs are on there, but none have been selected yet for radio, and some haven’t been listened yet. Will this stop you from considering us?
    Thanks in advance!

  5. Hi Laura
    It helps us if you can leave your song title in the format “ARTIST NAME – Song Title”while it’s under consideration: it will definitely have been heard by Friday morning.

    If your track appears in our Listening Post around lunchtime on the Friday, then yes please do keep it in that format till the following Monday. If it doesn’t then of course change it back as soon as you like!

    Re: BBC Introducing, it makes no difference to us on the mixtape whether anybody else has listened to your track or played it on the radio. So long as the track has been uploaded in the first place, then we can consider it for the Mixtape and easily get hold of the audio if it makes the final 12.

    Tom x

    PS if you’ve uploaded a great track that hasn’t yet been listened to by your local show, it’s always a good idea to be proactive and contact them directly and remind them that it’s there. The listening process is supposed to be automatic in theory, but in practice BBC Introducing is quite overstretched and understaffed. Nobody will mind being alerted to the fact that you have a brilliant piece of music that will sound great on their show.

    Onbviously, if it ISN’T a brilliant piece of music that will sound great on their show, then don’t bother mithering them about it. Your time will be better spent working on new material instead.

  6. Hi Tom

    I had one of my band Plainview’s songs selected last week, thank you for that! I was wondering if there was any point resubmitting songs that haven’t been selected in the past, in case they might have not been previously selected because it was a particularly busy or strong week?

    Thanks

    Darren

  7. Tom

    I think what we’re gently trying to do here at FOTN is give songwriters a realistic feel for just how much competition is out there, and inspire them to up their game accordingly. On the basis of “Patient” your band’s perfectly capable of coming up with a killer song that grabs listeners by the ears and takes off like wildfire across the web. So why not concentrate your energies on writing new material, and loads of it, over the next six months or so – rather than going back over old ground?

  8. Darren

    Thanks, will do

  9. Hi Tom,
    We uploaded track “Release The Hounds” some time ago and featured in Fresh Faves: Batch 17. Recently noticed that you added the track as a favorite on Soundcloud. The track is uploaded on BBC Introducing and would be great to be considered for air play

    Thanks for all your support

  10. As you say we’ve supported Centrefolds strongly with three plays on the BBC Introducing Mixtape in the last 6 months: Alright on August 6th and Fresh Air actually opened the programme twice – on October 8th and December 31st. At least 3,000 other artists have sent us their music during those six months, so Centrefolds have been given pretty preferential treatment.

    But however good your music is we can only do so much for any one artist – we can play you on the mixtape, plug you on the blog, favourite you on Soundcloud, tweet you out on Twitter, and even the odd play on my Saturday show (13th October). But after that it’s down to you to pick up the ball and run with it.

    For ourselves, we have to strike a balance, both on the blog and on the mixtape. We’re there to make sure great new talent gets a fair hearing – and every time we give a repeat play to one of our favourites, that’s another new artist who won’t get a chance to be heard that week.

    Don’t get me wrong, we undoubtedly will support Centrefolds again in the future. But not two months after your last play, and for the same old EP yet again. It’s best to save up your goodwill and favours for when you really need them: like when you’re about to launch a debut album or embark on an 8-week headline tour.

    Fine as it is, your EP has been out since May 2012. It’s served you well and racked up some reasonable plays on Soundcloud but it’s done pretty much everything it’s going to do for now. If this batch of songs hasn’t made Marc Riley and Steve Lamacq go “Fuck me – who are this lot???” and drop Alt-J to fit you in their programmes, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and write some that will.

    Like I said to Darren, it’ll be better now to concentrate your energies on writing new material, and loads of it, over the next six months or so – rather than going back over old ground.

  11. Fair comment Tom, many thanks for the feedback. Catch you in six months or so

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