As an artist or songwriter you need a sample of your work to show to prospective buyers and fans. This sample should demonstrate (demo) your art and/or abilities. Choosing the right form of this “demo” can focus your work to the right audience and often save time and money. Each of the demos listed below has a different recording approach, content and mix. Each is designed to show, spotlight or demonstrate your work at its best. Following is a list of some of the different types of “demos.” Make sure you put the Copyright symbol – ©2014 your name – on all of your demos no matter what their form or destination to protect your ownership. Make sure you include your contact information with any of these demos so that the buyer or user can reach you.
This demo is for songwriters who wish to market or sell their songs to artists, bands, producers and/or publishers. The demo can be as simple as just guitar and voice or piano and voice. It does not need drums, bass, strings, etc. unless they are VERY important to the melody. The recording quality should be good but does not need be professional. The most important thing to remember is that this demo shows the MELODY and LYRICS. The melody in the guitar or piano should be obvious and the lyrics should be clear and understandable. This demo can be sent by MP3 or other compatible format. Check with the buyer/user for their desired format. You should have only three to five complete songs on the demo and only your very best material.
This demo could be a simple guitar/voice or piano/voice demo similar to the song demo or it could be a complete band depending on who/what the “artist” is. The important thing here is to show off or spotlight the artist’s talent whether it be singing or playing an instrument or both. This demo could have a band supporting the artist but the mix has to have the artist mixed “on top” or “out front” to make sure that the artist is not buried in the mix. The recording quality should be good for the supporting instruments and the arrangement should complement the artist and not “walk on” the artist’s performance. The recording quality for the artist should be as good as possible. It is recommended that you use a high quality microphone for the vocalist. Again, this demo can be sent by MP3 or other compatible format.
As the name implies, this demo is used to show off the band’s abilities. It could take two different forms.
#1 One version would be used to get the band gigs in clubs or to show to a promoter or booking agent. This demo should be cut “live” with most or all of the band members playing the songs. Although not technically “live,” the singing could be overdubbed after the songs are recorded. It is often difficult for bands to work out the harmonies when everyone is playing their own instrument. This is also a great opportunity for the band to work out and improve the vocals. The singers can practice to the band recording and concentrate on their respective parts. Then, when ready, the vocals can be recorded all at once “live” to the band recording. The mix can be slightly raw or rough as if it were truly live. Reverbs and crowd sounds could be added to give the club owner, booking agent or promoter a sense of what the band would sound like at the venue. You don’t need whole songs for this demo. It could have one-half or less of each of maybe five songs. You don’t have to supply all of the songs the band plays, but you should include a complete list of the songs in your repertoire. This demo should be on CD and included in the band “Promo” kit. The promo kit should have pictures of the band and its members, a brief bio of the band and any and all press clippings that the band has acquired.
#2 This band demo is used to market the band to a label. The performance, recording, arrangement and mix are much more critical than the simply “live” band demo for working in the clubs. The recording should be “master quality” in case the label wants to put it out just as you sent it once you’re signed. The performance should be the best that each member can do for each part on each song. The recording process should be to record the basic rhythm section of the band as “live” as possible for the best band feel and then go back and correct any mistakes made by any member except the drummer. If the drummer makes a mistake, then often the whole tempo is off. The best approach here is to do another take until the drum part is correct and then fix any other band member parts on the “good” take. Each instrument part should be the best sound quality and performance possible. The arrangement should be to complement the band as a whole and to spotlight any special talents you have in the band. The songs chosen for this demo should show off the band’s abilities and songwriting if the band writes original material. The mix has to be “finished product” level similar to the record release below. It should have dynamics and texture that highlight the band’s performance abilities without many special effects that the band cannot reproduce live. Like the band demo version #1, this demo should only have about five songs and be included on CD (44.1kHz/16bit) in the promo kit. Do not send this as an MP3 (lower quality) unless the label specifically asks for it in that form.
This is not really a “demo” as the others above. This is the material that would go out to radio stations, TV stations or labels looking for ready-to-release product. It may be possible to record in your home studio but I would advise you to go to a professional recording studio for this. The engineer probably has much more experience with recording and mixing and maybe even mastering for CD. This is to your benefit. The “extra pair of ears” and someone with a fresh look at your work can help you to improve the result. That being said, this should be a “master” quality recording and the very best performance possible to complement each SONG. The mix should be at the “finished product” level with any and all effects dialed in perfectly. The sequencing or “programming” of the CD should be chosen so that the album starts well and slows up and down as desired by placing the songs in the correct order. Once this is done, an MP3 version or other media release format version can be made from the “master” for release on the web or elsewhere. The quality of the release product should always be the highest quality possible. This CD should be packaged in a professional looking CD liner/case with the band’s art/pictures/info on the “J” liner. Again, make sure your contact info is printed on the CD liner or included in the MP3 file, and always put the Copyright symbol on all versions or copies that you send out.