“How good do demos need to be?” is one of the questions I am asked most often in my workshops. To effectively answer this question, you need to identify the purpose of your demo recording.
The article “What Makes the Perfect Demo?” from BMI.com, written by Jason Blume, delves into the intricacies of creating demo recordings for different purposes in the music industry. Here’s a summary of the key points:
The Purpose of Your Demo
The article emphasizes first identifying the purpose of your demo, as this dictates its ideal form. Demos can be used for pitching songs to artists or publishers, seeking representation, showcasing oneself as a recording artist, promoting live gigs, or for sync licensing opportunities.
The Perfect “Song Demo”
- Song Demos: These are designed to showcase the song itself, not the singer or band. The production level varies based on the song’s style. For instance, a simple acoustic setup might suffice for a tender song, while a fully produced track with multiple instruments and vocals might be needed for genres like EDM or R&B.
- Professional Standard: Regardless of the style, vocals and instruments must be professionally executed, as demos reflect not only songwriting skills but also professionalism and additional talents like production or vocal abilities.
- Conveying Your Vision: Demos are a medium to express your vision for the song, often being the only input songwriters have on the final arrangement.
The Perfect “Artist Demo”
Artist demos are more about showcasing the potential of a singer or band as recording artists. They are generally more fully produced than song demos and must capture the artist’s unique style and vision.
Demos for Live Gigs and Sync Licensing
- Live Gigs: For securing live performances, a live recording or compilation of live performances is preferred.
- Sync Licensing: Demos for TV and film need to be of broadcast quality, as they are often used as-is.
The cost of producing demos varies widely, from no cost for home studio recordings to thousands of dollars for professional studio work. The article provides ballpark figures for different types of demos.
Hot Tips and Summary
- Lead with Strength: Always start with your strongest song.
- Vocal Importance: The lead vocal is crucial in selling the song.
- Keep Intros Short: Except for artist demos where a longer intro might be integral.
- Vocal Levels: In song demos, vocals are often mixed slightly louder than in commercial recordings.
The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of demos in representing an artist or songwriter, likening them to a professional portfolio that must showcase one’s best work.
This comprehensive guide provides valuable insights for anyone looking to create impactful demo recordings, whether they are songwriters, artists, or producers.