Ashland, Oregon: CHILLFILTR Celebrates 1 Year of Independent Music Reviews
posted 11 May 2019 by Krister Axel
Thank you to all the record labels, publicity shops, and individual artists that send their songs in for coverage.

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On February 8th, 2018, we published our first micro-review on Alexi Murdoch, and a new song review format was born. Over 600 song features and a year later, our organic approach to letting the song speak for itself has created a buzz around the world. In any given month, we are visited by music fans from over 50 different countries. How did we do it?

Timing - Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud

I spent years as a software engineer, which was fun until it wasn't. I think the entire software dev industry needs to take a long, hard look at itself, but that is a whole other crusade, which is why I decided to start writing about music. But 20 years writing Ruby code and working with AWS is a great prep for running a CMS. I chose Squarespace instead of a self-hosted solution, and I am glad I did, because they had an Apple News-feed built right in. Score. I use to sync my playlists. That has been a huge help. I also signed up for a Zapier account, which helps me automate some of the Twitter nonsense.


SubmitHub has been a huge help to my career; in terms of creating early monetization to keep the lights on, to sustaining a constant stream of new artists' submissions, to providing a seamless platform for resolving copyright release paperwork, it is all there. It is run by two humans, not a board of directors, and that gives me and all of my fellow music-bloggers a sense of security that it will be around in present form for some time. As a product, it is constantly evolving, but already it fills a need that is very basic. It connects artists to promotion channels, in a way that minimizes friction. Yes, please.

The Golden Circle

Another thing: I watched this clip from Simon Sinek, and it really woke me up. Last year was a big year for me in many ways, and one epiphany was that I was in the wrong business. The extra push to start CHILLFILTR was from this line: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. I finally asked myself the big question: what should I be doing? If nothing stood in my way, what would I do? Well, it’s this. I know exactly why I write. There are 2 reasons: I want to help indie musicians connect with quality promotion channels in a way that is positive and uplifts them; and I want to connect listeners around the world with the amazing music that mainstream channels are ignoring. It’s very simple.

Wrap Up

Last year, I added some graphics to bring the numbers home, so I’ll do that again. This has been an amazing year for CHILLFILTR. We will continue to support the songs we love, because that is what we do.

Not bad for 1 month on Apple News.

Thank you to all the record labels, publicity shops, and individual artists that send their songs in for coverage. I wish I could write about every submission, and please know that I have deep respect for each and every one of you. If I ever said no, it was not personal, and I do tend have more of an ear for artists after I’ve heard a few songs, so keep ‘em coming!

UPDATE (December 2020) - after I posted this, our Apple News traffic numbers climbed for about another 6 months, and then completely disappeared. When I reached out to support, I was told they were 'constantly adjusting their algorithm to better serve their customers.'

Also, Soundsgood shut down, which is why we only playlist for Spotify and Apple Music now; I have since moved the blog twice - from Squarespace to Ghost (in 2019), and now from Ghost to Craft CMS. I still use Zapier, along with Airtable, Cloudinary, and AddSearch. Finally, at last count, SubmitHub has 6 employees.

About the Author


Krister Bjornson Axel

Ogdensburg, New York

Paris, France. Madison, Wisconsin. Los Angeles. Ashland, Oregon. Ottawa. I write music, I write about music, and I write code. See also: photography, prose, podcasting. I have 1 gorgeous wife, 2 amazing kids, and many interests.

Recent Awards: 2020 ND (Photo) Honorable Mention, 2020 Accenti Writing Contest Finalist