Whether submitting music to a record shop or sending it into an app like Pandora, the one person who decides the fate of the album or track is the curator. The curator’s job is to sift through submissions and decide what would make a good fit for their business.
Here are a few tips for how to make their job easier and get good music through.
1. Use a good mic.
It’s a bummer to think that a musician can’t make it on talent and dedication alone, but the first thing that makes a curator hit the eject button is low sound quality. A cell phone-quality microphone is hard to make sound good. It makes a bigger difference for singing because the instruments can be recorded with a bad microphone and still sound fine.
If a good microphone is out of the question, it is possible to work without one and just make the poor quality sound intentional. Lo-fi is still a thing, after all. It’s a fine line to walk, but there are musicians who pull it off.
2. Label the genre accurately.
Curators call upon one another to ask for assistance in determining if a track fits a genre well. If a song sounds like a perfect example of Peruvian folk music, for instance, and it isn’t labeled as that, a curator might misinterpret it and turn it down.
Similarly, a musician should target record stores that stock his or her genre. It seems like a no-brainer, but knowing the demographic saves a lot of time and money.
3. Stay music central.
It’s one thing to tie a political message to the music and advertise that, but when a musician sends in his or her tapes with a box of cookies, that just comes across as desperate. The cookies will be stale by the time they listen, anyway.
Just write a brief blurb about the track so they know what they are listening to and wait patiently. Curators and companies get thousands of entries a day. It takes a lot of time to sift through the music.
Getting by a curator is all about being true to your sound. Label the genre, don’t try to dress it up as anything more than it is, and if it’s possible, get a good mic.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s borrowing his friend’s microphone.