For those who may not know, SubmitHub is a website created in 2015 by Jason Grishkoff, and its sole purpose is to connect musicians with, well… anyone involved in music-related projects, such as playlist curators, bloggers, radio hosts, and so on.
The mechanism is simple: a musician signs up on the site and uploads their music, including genre, description, and similar artists. Subsequently, using credits (which cost approximately 1 euro each), they can submit their music to the categories mentioned above so that it can be evaluated and, if deemed worthy, promoted to the public through inclusion in various Spotify playlists, blog reviews, radio shows, or even social media.
Sending one’s music through this service generally costs 1 to 3 credits, at the discretion of the curator, as far as I know. If the song is rejected, credits are not refunded (unless a curator has chosen to keep the respective option active, but this is a very rare occurrence), and in any case, SubmitHub takes a percentage.
Many people wonder: is submithub a scam against artists?
Today, after spending quite some time using the platform firsthand, we will discover together whether this is true or not, starting from the credit and feedback system, and then delving into the heart of the service, namely the playlist, blog, radio, etc…
I also want to personally thank the managers of SubmitHub who have made themselves available to provide me with some information regarding their service.
Before we start
I want to remind everyone that our project is entirely, 100%, free for everyone, and therefore, by CLICKING HERE, you can download all our music without spending a dime. By CLICKING HERE, you can discover how to support us for free. And if you would like to give us a hand through a voluntary donation to help us survive and keep this site active, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.
And now, let’s get to the heart of the article.
It's Always about the money
One of the first thoughts you might have after reading the introduction to SubmitHub is that, as usual, it’s just another service aiming to “suck up” the money of artists. As if there weren’t already too few of those around, right? After all, a musician has to spend a lot of money on instruments, software, mixing, mastering… and finally, on promotion.
The good news, then, is that no, it’s not just about the money. In a highly intelligent move, Jason and his collaborators have structured a system of mutual feedback where you can earn credits for free by helping other musicians.
The operation is simple: listen to other people’s music, and leave feedback to help them improve. After writing 20 (or 10 in the case of becoming verified reviewers), you earn 1 credit.
And here’s where one of the first problems of the platform comes into play, which is the users.
Help others... or just ourselves?
As much as the team behind SubmitHub does everything in their power to make the platform as transparent and useful as possible, sometimes there’s really nothing to be done about how people use it, just like with fire, which, depending on its use, can either warm or burn, bring well-being or destruction.
I can say from personal experience that to write a good number of reviews that can actually be helpful to others and earn enough credits to structure a worthy campaign on SubmitHub, it requires a daily commitment ranging from 3 to 4-5 hours for at least a few weeks (per campaign).
The result, of course, can be worthwhile. I’ve actually been contacted in chat by people who thanked me for the attention I put into listening and providing feedback. I’ve stayed in touch with some of these people on other social platforms, and at the same time, you gain the means to help yourself as well.
The problem is that for many people, it’s not even remotely imaginable to invest so much time, and since the interest is more on the credits than on mutual assistance, 99% of the feedback that comes in is trivial, consisting of a few words, useless, and potentially confusing, all to get them done quickly while giving the impression of real effort.
For example, I once received a review that mentioned a “too long introduction of the song,” in a piece that had a simple 2-second white noise effect as an introduction, demonstrating that the reviewer hadn’t even listened to it. This leads to receiving reviews like “it’s okay, but I didn’t personally like it,” which is not helpful to anyone.
Is the aim to improve... or to win?
Another key point of SubmitHub, closely tied to the review system, is the ranking of the “most voted” submissions.
This is one of those systems that, in my opinion, the site should really do without.
Having a ranking of the most voted submissions encourages musicians to use the feedback mechanism more in hopes of making it onto the elusive “most voted” page rather than obtaining genuine feedback to improve their art.
As a result, a significant portion of users react almost angrily to any vote that doesn’t allow them to climb the rankings. They either vent their frustration in chat against other users, creating a social environment that can sometimes be toxic, or they take it out directly on the reviewer, considering any review that isn’t particularly high as “unhelpful.” In the worst cases, and if the reviewer has left the possibility of being contacted in chat open, this might even lead to personal insults.
Fortunately, it has never been my case, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it happens to some.
In my opinion, removing the ranking, after a transition period during which all the more competitive individuals would complain heavily, could create a much more relaxed atmosphere focused on improvement rather than competition among musicians.
The Curator System
Let’s now talk about what most artists are primarily interested in: the curator system. Also considered the main reason why the “is submithub a scam?” question usually starts forming in many artists’ minds.
In fact, there isn’t a musician out there who wouldn’t want to see their music featured in that massive playlist with 150,000 followers or reviewed by that website receiving 10,000 monthly visits.
The problem is that in most cases, with a positive response rate on the platform hovering around 20% (and some curators, on a personal level, even lower at 3-5%), the majority of promotional campaigns end with a high rejection rate, often justified in an entirely “unacceptable” manner.
Before we move forward, let me clarify one thing: just like with the review mechanism, I don’t believe that the blame here lies with the system set up by SubmitHub’s creators. Instead, it’s more a result of the fact that a significant portion of curators on the site is more interested in personal gain than in establishing a genuine, ethical collaboration between curator and artist.
Not all of them, fortunately; some curators are true gems and act professionally. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that many others are on the platform for purely selfish reasons.
Having mostly dealt with the playlist aspect, let me share some insights about that.
Being both artist and curator: 100% conflict of interest
A conflict of interest is a situation where a person’s secondary interest tends to interfere with the primary interest of the company or entity to which they have specific duties and responsibilities.
Now, as stated by the creators of SubmitHub, the platform’s purpose is to connect artists and curators in the most transparent way possible, ensuring that artists have a fair chance of getting promotion for their art, while curators can be compensated for the time they spend listening to hundreds of different songs and organizing them effectively in their dedicated playlists.
Both creating music and curating, organizing, and promoting it undoubtedly require time and effort; otherwise, not everyone would do it, right?
However, what could happen when a person is both an artist and a curator?
We end up with a clear conflict of interest where the artist creates a playlist with the primary goal of promoting their own music, while the promotion of other artists’ music becomes a secondary interest, useful only for one purpose: financing self-promotion through the credits obtained as a curator.
What might surprise some is that there are various online courses promising success on Spotify that teach precisely this strategy.
How to succeed by exploiting others
This is the mechanism taught:
Create a playlist in the genre you compose and start promoting it on social media through paid advertising services.
The playlist must be structured very specifically: alternating between the most famous songs of that genre and the artist’s personal songs, so that people are attracted to the well-known songs they already know, and while listening, they also come across your tracks.
A recommended ratio is 3:1 (3 famous songs to 1 personal song), but some curators use ratios like 5:1 or 10:1, which are considered more “ethical.”
Up to this point, it might not seem too unusual; it appears to be a legitimate system. However, problems arise when we remember that:
ONE – The primary goal of the curator is to promote themselves, so regardless of the actual quality of the music submitted to them, they will NEVER remove their own songs from the top positions of the playlist.
TWO – To attract new followers, it’s necessary to have the most famous genre-specific songs in the top positions of a playlist. Thus, regardless of the quality of the music submitted, those songs cannot be moved.
Can you see the problem now?
Many musicians then attempt to get into a playlist that either won’t accept them because, regardless, it’s unimaginable to replace their own music with new submissions, or if they are accepted, their music will be buried at the 90th, 100th, or 500th position in the playlist. This ensures that listens will always end up on the curator’s music in the top positions and never on the music of those who paid for the chance to enter the playlist, hidden in the 100th position or lower. As the creator self-promotes with your money, accumulating songs always in the top spots of the playlist, exceeding 100,000, 500,000, or more listens, your music, for which you paid for their advertising, may reach only 20-30 listens or even fewer.
Moreover, since the curator’s music and the most famous tracks are off-limits for changes, your music is and will always be the “sacrificial” one when another artist submits a new song. It will never be the curator’s music that gets replaced; it will be yours, removed after 1-2 weeks.
I really want to make a point clear here: what I’m talking about is NOT a curatore that uses his/her playlist as means to self-promotion by alternating his music, with submitted music and as such, providing everyone, themselves included, with benefits.
What I’m talòking about are some EXTREME exploiters of the systems that literally always leave their music on top and rotate submission only in the lower spot, near the 100th, only to take advantage of the credit system.
Many will justify this by saying that they pay for the promotion on socials, totally forgetting that no, it’s not them paying for the promotion. Is the artist submitting music with their credits that do.
Some insight directly from the submithub team
Let’s take a brief break from the discussion to introduce some interesting information that I received directly from the team that manages the Submithub service. I’m sure many of you will find this information intriguing, showing how these individuals genuinely care about the quality of their service.
One of the things I was informed about is that the criteria for becoming curators within the platform are more specific than many people might imagine. It’s not just about reaching the magic number of 1000 followers; there’s also a minimum of at least 100 monthly listeners required. From that point onward, the playlist is continuously monitored. If the number of listeners falls below this threshold, the team might directly contact the curator to suggest various methods for returning above the required listening threshold.
If this threshold remains below 100 for too long or drops below 20 monthly listeners, the curator’s profile is generally deactivated.
Additionally, I was informed that the team is aware of the conflict of interest issue in playlist management by artists. They are monitoring this closely and have given me a fairly precise estimate that the number of playlists managed in this manner is around 15 to 20%.
These playlists and their management are increasingly under more scrupulous attention to find ways to reduce the issue mentioned earlier. To avoid having songs that don’t even receive a single listen, perhaps buried at the 500th position, they have started encouraging curators not to create playlists with more than 100 songs. This is certainly not a definitive solution, but it demonstrates commitment and a willingness to make the service better, giving hope for further changes in the future.
That said, let’s return to the main discussion to talk about the consequences of these conflicts of interest.
Cognitive Dissonance and the feeling of being scammed
At this point, most artists who rely on the Submithub service start thinking that the site itself is a scam, but let me tell you, it’s not. Before discussing why, let’s address the issue of completely invented and nonsensical justifications for rejections.
Whenever a song is rejected, curators have the option to describe why it was rejected, and this is where, as I mentioned earlier, things fall apart.
Because, for many, the goal is to promote themselves, and as seen above, it’s necessary that A) their music always stays in the playlist and B) the most famous music always stays in the playlist, often the only real reason to reject a song is, stripped of all hypocrisy: “I can’t accept your song because if I did, I’d have to remove one of mine or one of the more well-known ones.”
But this isn’t an acceptable reason, right? If someone were to write something like this, curators and playlists would probably be immediately removed from the platform.
So, they come up with justifications like this: “An amazing song, beautiful, the best I’ve heard in a long time. Unfortunately, there’s this tiny sound at 01:19 that ruins the whole experience, so I can’t share it.“
I made this message up, but I know very well that anyone who has ever used the platform will immediately relate to it.
Then there are much more “confusing” messages, such as when you send a song to someone who claims to want, let’s say… rock music, and they respond that the song is nice but “a bit too rock for their taste; they’d like it a bit lighter.” Then you check the songs already accepted in their playlist, and they’re all “rock,” exactly like yours.
It becomes impossible to enumerate all the methods that curators have come up with over the years to reject a song. The main point is that since they are often invented, they create what is called “cognitive dissonance” in the artists who read them and are aware of the absurdity of the justification.
Cognitive dissonance is a confusing state in which the mind is presented with two contradictory pieces of information simultaneously, such as “too rock for my playlist” and “the playlist is full of music identical to mine.” One of them must be false; both cannot be true. Hence, the state of confusion is created, which later turns into anger and frustration, ultimately leading to the feeling of “okay, Submithub is a scam.“
Personally, if there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s a curator who simply tells me, “I don’t like it,” because at least I know that tastes are personal, and just as I don’t like someone else’s song, someone else might not like mine. But without the runaround.
So: is submithub a scam or is it not?
My answer is: NO.
Submithub is a well-thought-out service designed to help both artists and curators, and, of course, it’s not perfect, as nothing in this existence is.
As with anything else, it’s the users of the service who must be held personally responsible for their behavior, and while there are fantastic users, unfortunately, there are many others with questionable practices.
Some might argue that the service itself is to blame and should do more to limit this type of behavior. I sincerely believe that Jason and his team are doing their best to address these issues, as evidenced by the recent changes that require curators to listen to more than just a few seconds of a song, or the ability for musicians to select the part of the song they want to be heard to prevent those who listen for a few seconds and then reject without even reaching the most beautiful part that the artist had most hoped for.
It’s essential to consider that, unfortunately, when someone dedicates all their energy to finding flaws in a system, they will find them regardless of the solutions the creators of that system implement.
For instance, they could ban all playlists managed by musicians, but then many would create secondary profiles on Spotify for playlist management, and there you go, nothing would have really changed.
“Is submithub a scam?” is that question that at some point in time many artists using it think but, in fact, it is a good service run with passion. Ultimately, it’s up to each of us, through our experiences, to figure out which curators are trustworthy and which are not. Then, we can create our small network of people we consider honest through a service that allows us to do so.
With this thought, I bid you farewell, inviting you to share your thoughts on this matter in the comments below and to subscribe to our newsletter using the form at the beginning of the article.
All the best,