Frankly, the one receiving your demo expects that the songs in the CD are your best written songs. Many times songwriters are in a hurry of submitting a demo without properly evaluating their best songs in terms of quality, performance and marketability. This results to low success rate, frustrations and failure. Based on my experience of submitting demos, I will give steps to illustrate the ways in selecting the best songs for your demo:
a. Develop a catalog first that will produce potential hits. By understanding 80-20 principle, only 20% of your catalog songs will become hits. And these hits will give income in terms of royalties that comprises 80% of all royalties gathered. Developing your own catalog takes time. Patience and proper planning is the key. So if only 20% of the songs written will become hits and if demo requires 4 songs. This means:
Total number of Hit songs = 20% x Total number required songs in the catalog
Total required songs in the catalog = Total number of hit songs / 20%
Total required songs in the catalog = 4/ 20% = 20
This means to produce a high success rate demo, you will need to write at least 20 songs. This does not mean, you have to write 20 songs immediately in one day. It will not help. Instead, these songs are written with quality and marketability in mind. You will need to devote significant amount of time for each song that is to be written.
So for example, according to your present songwriting ability/skills, you can write one quality song per week. So it takes 20 weeks or five months to complete 20 songs.
Again, it does not mean at the end of five months you can now decide the best songs to be included in your demo. You still need to record your songs professionally (you may consider hiring a producer) and then get professional song reviews. Song review process is important to received critiques and ratings for your song. Again, it is suggested to conduct some sort of market research for your songs.
To do this, you will subject your catalog to exposure to potential listeners and get their honest rating. With this, this can help you assess what are the strong songs in your catalog.
A sample song review report from www.broadjam.com
As as songwriter you can sign-up for MiniMob membership in Broadjam which is free and you can get excellent service from the reviewers. Take note that this is a free service and it allows you to review other songs first and comment according to what you think the song will be improve.
I suggest you will get at least 10 reviews and examine the results of the songs.You can then improve the songs according to listener comments. In this process you can select the best songs for your demo.
There are only three things you have to make sure on your demo best songs:
1. They are recorded with the best quality you can afford.
2. They are the most catchy songs in your catalog which according to song reviews, it has the highest hook, marketability, and vocals pitch rating (important especially for pop music).
3. You own the copyright of that song.
So if you have 20 songs, you have to make sure the 4 songs you send to the music publishers, recording labels or other music industry professionals will comply to the 3 important requirements.
It does mean you have to record all 20 songs which could be costly, you can prioritize them in the recording process which you think is marketable and a great song.