Things you should know before you submit a songwriter demo

Do someone ask you for a demo? Are they recording labels, music publishers, producers or even artist? Making a demo could be an expensive undertaking, because there are things to watch and take care of. The truth is whatever it is, they are your gateway to success. But we are always confronted with challenges in making a demo, some of the problems arises when making a demo:

a. You are not sure if they are really asking for it
b. You do not know how to present the demo professionally.
c. You are not sure what songs will be placed in your demo (this is true if you think you have a lot of great songs :))
d. You are confused where to address your demo.
e. You do not know the status of your demo.

From my personal experience it is good to examine those above problems and recommend a course of action:

FIRST PROBLEM: You are not sure if they are really asking for it.

It is a good thing to ask for permission FIRST. Yes I am serious. Nobody likes to receive tons of unsolicited materials. You have to get a clear permission from your recipient. A simple “YES” are not enough.But elaboration of the answer “YES” is better. A lot of persons that will be receiving your demo try their best to be nice to you. So they can even say “YES”, but a more elaborate answers show their interest.

2ND PROBLEM: You do not know how to present the demo professionally.

This is really a problem. Demos should be presented professionally, I highly recommend that if you are not able to replicate professional standards I suggest you will avail professional demo services. I cannot recommend one because I have not tried that before. But it is worth the cost. They can print out glossy materials for your demo, highly clear pictures, edited bios, professionally presented press releases. Not only that, but I have seen that they can prepare your demo CD too, they can make it look “standard” ( unlike the stickers and felt tip pen method we do at home :) )

The 8 x10 glossy black and white is also a bit challenging to prepare. Make sure all your photos , materials and others complies to what is seen as “standard” by the music industry. For example if “audio CD” is today’s standard in music submission materials. Please do not submit cassette tapes especially not winded to the start!

By availing a professional demo services, it is highly possible that you can obtain a professional looking demo.

3RD PROBLEM: You are not sure what songs will be placed in your demo (this is true if you think you have a lot of great songs :))

This needs extra care and attention. Failure to submit proper songs is a surefire for rejection. Why??? If you are 100% sure that the label is working on a country songs, then do not submit rock songs to it. Some artist and songwriters did not understand properly the nature of the recipient business. So better careful with this, I even meet one publishing company that in their request, they are willing accept songs regardless of genre. BUT I DO NOT EVEN HEAR A SINGLE ROCK SONG IN THEIR CATALOG!!!

Do not know why they advertise to accept different genres but in the end accept only one specific genre. Sound confusing? huh.

So do not fall into trap that they accept any genres, better double check the nature of their business. Also you can get information from the artist that they have signed, the type of songs in their catalog. Most of their songs are available online to hear and observed, so better do this background investigation first before submitting your demo.

4th PROBLEM: You are confused where to address your demo.

It is extremely important to get the correct address to where you are going to send the demo. Failure to get the right address will send your demo to the limbo of lost. To counteract this problem , is to important to ask exactly the recipient address the first time they ask for demo. Do not rely on company address shown in their “Contact Us” page, or their letterheads. It is sometimes very different.

5th PROBLEM: You do not know the status of your demo.

It is why it is very important that the demo recipient already knows you and you have their contact information. Trust me, you will not be comfortable to do the follow-up of the status if the demo recipient does not completely know you. It is not to say that having some sort of short relationship is a requirement but it will be a big advantage.

To make the follow-up is to have a confirmation that the package has been successfully received by your recipient. Sending your package using courier or express mail is a good strategy because they will provide you with tracking code. Do not ever make a follow-up unless you are 100% sure they have received the package. If they have received the package it is good to ask them some short of feed back when to expect results.

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