Interview by Paul D Houston
As a struggling musician who was/is part of a struggling band a few years back, we found a website where we could get immediate feedback on our music. It was a place called SubmitHub. At that time, SubmitHub wasn't as developed as it is now. It was a little easier to navigate and send your songs to a variety of bloggers and vloggers. We uploaded our mp3's to the website, chose the reviewers we wanted to hear our music and waited. Only a few days or less in some cases, we ended up receiving a lot of rejections from these bloggers and vloggers and eventually the band I was in, kinda fell apart. Like the 10 previous bands I had been in.
So anyway, a year or so later, when I decided to start up a small record label called Rock Hand Records, I knew I could utilize SubmitHub in getting bloggers and other reviewer types to preview our upcoming releases and get some feedback for marketing purposes. It was also a great place to find new and fresh sounding bands, which is something we needed at the time, and still do in fact. And to be honest, I much prefer being on the record label side of SubmitHub as compared to being a struggling musician or band sending music to people through SubmitHub. As a label, I get about 4-10 new songs a day in my little inbox on SubmitHub, bands and musicians wanting Rock Hand Records to consider their music for release and such. While I reject 90% of what comes in, wrongly or not, I do enjoy listening to all this fresh new, raw, burgeoning music that is sent in through SubmitHub. Plus a perk of being a label on SubmitHub, is sometimes people pay for me to listen to their songs. This is an option an artist or band can choose to jump to the front of the line, and ensuring their song is heard and gets at least some adequate feedback. Personally, I could care less if you want to pay that little fee to jump to the head of the line or not. I will listen to the music regardless. A band paying that extra fee though, does tell me these people are serious about their work and need it heard. So, that part of my daily visit to SubmitHub is always a cheap little thrill.
Jason Grishkoff is one of three gentlemen who developed SubmitHub for musicians. Along with his partners Dylan and Henko, they've created a really grand little hub of music and community and I hope it lasts for a long time. I find it to be beneficial in a whole lot of ways.
Jason, why do something like SubmitHub? What drove you and your partners to embark on such a hefty project?
I started SubmitHub back in 2015 as a direct solution to a problem I was facing with my blog Indie Shuffle: there were too many people emailing us daily with requests to review their music. It had gotten to the point where I was totally ignoring them, which meant I was missing out on tons of new music. I knew other blogs faced a similar problem -- and also wanted to learn a few new coding languages -- so decided to tackle the issue head on.
What is the most difficult thing about running, SubmitHub?
At this point, we're spending a lot of time making sure that artists are having a worthwhile experience while using SubmitHub. The biggest conflict here tends to come in the form of curators who are doing it for all the wrong reasons -- buying followers, buying plays, writing generic feedback, etc. With 800+ curators, it's difficult for us to stay on top of all that, but we've got a lot of tools in place to try and make our job easier. We're a small team -- myself and Dylan manage the community, while Henko manages the finances and compliance. Our goal is to automate as much as we can so that we don't have to get involved in the nitty gritty. It's a constant uphill battle :)
I’ve been on SubmitHub for a little bit now and a lot of things have changed in that time. One thing which gets constantly updated and always amazes me, is when you add new sub-genres which the artists/musicians can use to describe their music. For instance you’ve recently added sub-genres like, Witch House and Neo-Soul among others. How do you come about these kinds of changes? Is it a user submitted thing or just that you and your partners pay so much attention to the ever changing music industry?
When I started SubmitHub there were only 10 genres. Now there are more than 100! Most of them come as requests/recommendations from the community. I usually let a little pile build up over the course of a few months, and then add them as a batch. It helps that I tend to blog a broad range in my personal capacity, which means I've got a fairly good grasp of what's out there.
Regarding, the user submitted aspect of SubmitHub, can you name me some things about the website which are direct correlations from user action and suggestion?
As the only developer on SubmitHub, it's very important to me that I keep closely on top of the community's problems and requests. A huge chunk of what you see today on the website came about as a request from a single user.
Behind the scenes, what’s life like for you and your partners? Is SubmitHub a normal day job for you all, or perhaps you guys have other avenues of interest besides, SubmitHub?
I've got a wife and two young daughters. Henko and Dylan are still free men. We're mostly based in Cape Town (South Africa) -- I typically work from home, while Henko and Dylan work from a shared workspace. I try to make sure we've all got flexible hours and can put life > work. I think that's rooted in the many years of corporate I did, and the general disdain I had for having my life restricted. As long as the work gets done, I don't care when it's done :)
What’s the ideal SubmitHub in your opinion? Perhaps, that’s already been achieved…?
I'm not necessarily working toward an ideal or end goal. That said, SubmitHub's definitely not perfect. It has evolved a lot over the last 4 years, and I reckon it'll be evolving a whole lot more over the next four :)
I know you keep some statistics from the website, any chance you could share some possibly surprising or shocking stats that you weren’t expecting to see?
Hmm, probably the stat that surprises people the most is that while the average approval % for premium submissions is ~10%, there's a huge difference between the "90 seconds listen, no feedback" (6% approval) and "20 seconds listen with feedback" options (12% approval).
As a regular user on SubmitHub, I think the most awesome thing about being a part of it is, that I am introduced to so much cool music, that I would have never heard otherwise. If you could give new bands and musicians one piece of advice, that could help them achieve their goals, after all your time working on SubmitHub, what would it be?
Spread your wings far. SubmitHub's one tool in a toolbelt of options, and pretty much any successful artist in 2019 has hammered it from multiple different angles.