Record labels literally go through hundreds of demos each day and many are overlooked due to the fact that they just don’t have a sound, style and image that will stand out. In this article, I explain the essential ingredients to a successful demo package.
If having the next radio hit is on your agenda, simply handing over a demo that sounds exactly like everyone else’s music won’t get you noticed in today’s market. And as much as I feel it’s important to be on top of current musical trends (in order compete against others) I still stress the need to honor your own true character through your music. It’s important to find a balance between your own musical influences and a sound that will help you compete with today’s current trends.
Many indie artists prefer the DIY approach when it comes to producing their demos and anyone who knows me knows I’m all for it! I love the fact that I can work in the comfort of my own home studio using nothing more than my computer and Ableton. The reality is many huge tracks are being produced and engineered nowadays in simple environments like these as opposed to the traditional big studio… But… here’s the catch, regardless of which tools you use, you still need to know what you’re doing to conceive your visions and make your music sound amazing. Just because you own a powerful laptop and have protools or logic doesn’t mean your demo will sound good creatively and sonically and If your demo lacks in quality, I can assure you that it will be harder to get noticed and all you will end up with is an amateur sounding demo, a few bucks saved and a lot of time wasted. If writing great songs and melodies is your strong area of the process, leaving all the production work in the hands of the pros will ensure you have a killer sounding demo which will help you grab the attention of labels and fans. taking the time to find the right producer for you and trusting in their abilities is worth the investment in the long run.
Demo/E.P. VS Singles
Single releases are great if you’re an established artist like Lady Gaga because you have already built up a massive fan base and have dedicated listeners. Radio stations don’t even think twice before dropping an established artist’s tracks into regular rotation. But when you’re just starting out, it’s important to give potential labels and fans a little variety. Show them what you’re truly capable of musically. Having a three track demo or five track E.P produced will help you kick start your music career a lot faster and grab listeners attention and will even help you show off your musical diversity.
Being an artist myself, I know what it feels like to finish your first track and feel eager to share it with your friends and the world. But when I was first starting out, I didn’t want to rush this process. I knew my music needed a lot of development and I decided to hold off on sharing my sounds and continue to develop my craft as a producer/engineer and musical artist. I attended engineering school, experimented constantly, read tons of “techy” books and shadowed some great producers. Overtime, I started to notice a huge improvement in my music and once that happened, I knew it was time to start releasing my own work to the world. This still applies to singing and song writing, many artists who are just starting out have little to no experience vocally and want to come out of their first recording sounding like Mariah Carey. It’s not going to happen overnight, but with a lot of practice, dedication and maybe some vocal coaching and learning about proper song structure, you will be able to write some great songs, find a producer who understands your vision and come out of the project with a great sounding demo.
Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
The press kit is equally as important as the quality of your music so make sure you don’t take any shortcuts. Think of your press kit as your own personal resume so shop to the industry. It should reflect the vibe of your music. You want to make sure you pay a professional to take high quality pictures of yourself, hire a professional writer to write your biography and work with a talented graphic artist who can design a stunning logo for you and don’t forget to include your contact info. Doing this will help you grab the attention of record labels, promoters and your fans.
If you are sending your demos out digitally, make sure the mp3’s are tagged properly. This means, inputting the songs name, artist name and website into the mp3 file so labels and fans have a way of finding you.