You’re standing there with your shiny new demo recording in your hand with a grin from ear to ear. It sounds fantastic!
You think to yourself “now all I’ve got to do is get that person at the record company or the management company or the movie soundtrack people or the DJ at the local radio station to actually listen to it” and suddenly you’re not smiling quite as much anymore.
You realise that these people get sent heaps of demo’s just like yours and… most will end up in the bin.
So, how do you put the odds in your favour?
While there are no guarantees, there are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood that your stuff ends up in the right hands so let’s look at some tips to help make it easier for people to hear it.
First and foremost; don’t send your demo recording out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry without contacting them first. Please, make sure you never send unsolicited material if you expect it to be read or listened to. Just don’t do it. Contact the person in advance and ASK them can you send it. Then, to reinforce the permission when you send them your demo, remind them in your covering letter that you have contacted them and that they asked you to send it. This alone will greatly increase the chance of it being listened to.
Next, don’t send them rubbish. It doesn’t have to be release ready quality but there is no excuse these days for sending a poor quality demo to someone. Gone are the days of the badly duplicated cassette tape. It’s beyond the scope of this topic to discuss recording techniques except to say that recording quality is so good these days that even the most basic of home studio’s can turn out a credible result with a bit of work. Having said that, don’t be frightened to get external help if you need it in the recording process. Don’t do it all yourself if you genuinely can’t handle it.
What to include.
- Include your Press Kit or at the very least a simple bio & contact sheet. The person listening may not know much about you. Don’t make it hard for them to find out more if they need to.
- Never send more than three songs unless specifically requested otherwise. Most people are very pushed for time and simply can’t listen to every track they are sent.
- Even though you only send three songs, they may not listen to all of them so put your best and most commercial song first. If you have a strong, up-tempo song that gives the listener a good idea of your style and capabilities, then start with that one.
- Don’t use home burnt discs with hand-written labels. It is quite simple to get short runs of CD’s made with professional printing and covers. There are plenty of companies these days that will do very small runs or print on demand. You will pay more per item but won’t have a huge up-front cost.
- If you still insist on doing it yourself then get hold of a CD printer and some printable CD’s and print a simple text label. Don’t try for some whacky artwork unless you have definite skills in that area. Nothing spells amateur more than home made artwork. If you are not an artist or can’t afford good artwork for your CD then just leave it out. A simple clear jewel case with a nice crisp white label and black text looks pretty professional.
- Send a neatly printed lyric sheet with your demo. Those who generally ARE interested in your music will appreciate the extra effort.
As mentioned in previous articles, put your name and contact details on EVERYTHING you send out. Even if you do include a separate contact sheet, don’t rely on it staying with your CD.
It is becoming increasingly acceptable to use digital formats such as MP3 for your demo. Here are few things to watch if you do:
Don’t make it too hard for them to get to. Sometimes audio files can be a bit big to send as an attachment to an email but you can make it available on your own website, use a service like Reverbnation or give them a link to a Dropbox folder.
- USB sticks with your songs and your press kit on it can work if presented well.
- When you convert your songs to MP3 use a higher quality setting and definitely don’t go below 128kbps.
- Watch for distortion. Keep your recording levels high but without going clipping and distortion.
- Make sure your mp3 tags are complete. Make sure your name, the song title etc is all filled in.
- Never send your original master tape or CD. You will probably never see it again and it’s not fair to expect the listener to send it back to you.
- Make sure there’s a copyright notice (© 2016 Your Name, All Rights Reserved) on the bottom of the lyric sheet and on the CD label. Technically, this isn’t necessary but it lets everyone know that your song is protected, whether it’s registered or not.
Like I said in the beginning, there are no guarantees to getting your demo recording heard but hopefully this article will help. So now it’s time to start think about putting a list of contacts together to get the ball rolling. If you’ve got any hints or tips that have helped you then please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear them.