Sending Your Demo
Send your Demo to Major Record Labels
OK, so you’ve recorded your demo – now what? You need to find out if your demo or songs are good enough to be listened to. Major record labels will only give you a 5 second chance to listen to the demo, whether or not it is good enough. They do not want to waste time because they receive thousands of demos every day. So, you must get your demo heard by a professional to make your demo sending transition as smooth as possible. Then you need to get your demo in the hands of the people who can help you take it to the next level. But with so many people trying to get their demos heard, how can you make sure your demo won’t get lost in the shuffle? Follow these simple steps to move your demo to the top of the pile.
1. Do Your Research
Before you start sending out your demo, you need to compile a list of labels who might be interested in hearing it. Sending your hip hop demo to an indie rock label is a waste of time and money. What bands do you like? What labels are they on? What labels deal with the kind of music you play? Spend some time online researching artists you consider to be similar to yourself and the labels that work with them. that way, your demo will land in the hands of people who “get” what you’re doing.
2. Learn Demo Policies
One you have your short list of labels; you need to learn each label’s policy on demos. Some labels, especially larger labels, will not accept unsolicited demos for legal reasons – they worry about people sending them demos, and then later suing them, claiming their songs have been stolen. Most labels have demo policies clearly displayed on their sites. Find out:
* Are unsolicited demos accepted?
* Acceptable demo formats (CD, mp3 clips)
* Demo mailing address
* Is there a specific demo (A&R) rep to whom you should address your package?
* Follow up rules – OK to call? OK to email?
3. Keep it Short and Sweet Remember, even small labels are inundated with demos, and many labels do listen to everything they get. Making their job easier will only help your case. Your demo package should include:
* A short demo. Go for two to three of your best songs. Anything longer won’t get listened to.
* SHORT band bio. Keep it on subject and to the point. No need to go for “My parents have known since birth I would be a musician…”
* Press clippings, if available
4. Steel Yourself Sending out demos can be a little frustrating. Often, despite your best attempts at a follow up, you just won’t even hear back from some people. You are also likely to hear “no” a lot. Don’t despair. If you hear “no” from someone, ask for feedback, advice, and suggestions of other labels who may like your music. Again, you won’t get this advice from everyone, but asking never hurts, and you may end up with the piece of advice that turns everything around for you. Treat every “no” as a chance to learn something that could turn that “no” into a “yes” in the future.
5. Keep in Touch When you do hear “no” from a label, that doesn’t mean you have to scratch them off your list. Include labels you like on your emailing list to let them know what is happening with your band, and if you record a new round of songs, it is perfectly fine to send a new demo to a label that has rejected you in the past. If you’re playing a show in the town in which a particular label is based, invite them to the show. Getting people to know your name is half the battle.
Don’t fret too much about the recording quality of the demo – That doesn’t mean just slop anything down, but record labels do not expect to hear professional recording quality on demos. Great songs WILL shine through and WILL get noticed.
But have a professional presentation – Take the time to print up a band bio that is clearly written and free of spelling errors. Jotting a few things about your band on the back of a napkin and tossing it into a package won’t cut it. If you have press clippings, make a copy of each one a separate piece of paper and bind the pages together.
Make a database of contacts – Keep a list of every label to whom you send your demo and of every person you talk to about your demo, whether the conversation is positive or negative. You never know who will be able to help you sometime down the line.
Pick songs with strong beginnings – When you demo goes into the CD player, if the song doesn’t grab the listener out of the gate, then the listener is likely to press “next.” Don’t go for the slow burners on your demo. Pick the songs that grab people on the first listen, from the first note.
More Secrets on Sending your Demo to Record Labels
Record labels are accepting demos at this time. There are many music industry professionals working for record labels, music management companies, production companies and publishing companies that are looking for professional artists that can send a music demo package. This demo package must include a 3-5 song demo with the best most commercial and impressive song first. Many record label A&R and music managers will not get passed the first song if it does not catch their attention. Your demo must also contain an 8×10 picture of you or your band, keep in mind that a sharper more professional picture will get a better response and increase your demos chances of being reviewed by the record label A&R, manager, producer or publisher. Don’t send a faded picture that you took with a disposable camera, these kinds of pictures are going to be extremely ineffective and I don’t recommend adding them to your demo package. Invest a little bit of money and hire a professional photographer to take your pictures.
Finally you will need an attractive story to go along with your sleek professional demo package. Ask yourself questions like why are you or your group so special? What do you have to offer musically? Do you have any band reviews or magazine articles written about you or your band? Try and find anything relative to your music that you can add into your demo package, emails from fans, show dates, etc. Your demo should also contain a biography that explains where you or your band came from and how you got in the situation that you are in. Your biography should be one page and very interesting. No one wants to read anything boring so create an exciting story. When I receive demos the first thing, I notice is how it’s delivered first class, priority mail etc.
The second thing I notice is definitely the demos packaging, printing, artwork, look and things of that nature. The music industry can be a little shallow and judge a book by its cover so remember that when you package your demo. If you are not willing to invest anything in yourself what makes you think I will want to invest in, you. When you are ready to send your demo package you should purchase some 8.5 x 11 padded envelopes. It is important to use the same packaging as the rest of the music industry. Now your music sounds great and your package is ready to send to your intended music industry professional. Make sure that you call your A&R, manager, producer or publisher contact before you send your demo. Ask them for permission to send your demo and make sure that you have the correct contact information and mailing address. There are some very legitimate music industry directories that contain music industry contact information. The most informative and inexpensive one is Contact Record Labels.
Now you’ve sent your demo to a manager or record label A&R that you have been dying to work with. What do you do now? Remember the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” well it is true meaning you must follow up on the demo that you sent. There is a big difference between following up and being annoying. Wait a few days after you expected that your contact received the demo package and give them a call. Remember to be polite, to the point and professional. A successful A&R, Manager, Producer or Publisher does not have any time to waste.