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A&R

How To Send The Perfect Demo



A Guest Post by Symphonic Distribution


Digital Music Distribution, sell your music online

To be heard, you have to stand out in a professional manner.

For any record label A&R, listening to demos starts out as the most exciting part of the job. Just think, you are being handed new music without having to dig for it, and their fate is in your hands!

But after a few years, this excitement turns into a massive drag and becomes just the opposite: quite possibly the most troublesome thing you have to deal with. With success of any label the amount of demos grow exponentially, while the quality of submissions also drop exponentially. It’s the equivalent of walking out to your mailbox each day, and finding an ever-growing amount of letters sloppily addressed to you but having absolutely nothing to do with your life! You’d probably start strong, carefully attending to every letter- but after a while you’d probably just stop reading (unless something was presented in a way that seemed worth your time).

Let’s start with what you aren’t supposed to do.(and yes all of these things happen on a regular basis)

DO NOT openly send your submission to too many labels at once

This just comes off as spam, and usually gets an instant deletion. Many aspiring producers will pass around demo address-lists and start sending music to labels who don’t even release that sound. It suggests that the aspiring producer is simply “throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks“. If that wasn’t a good enough reason, failing to BCC will result in unwanted “reply-alls” leading to annoyed recipients receiving even more spam!

DO NOT send 3rd party download links such as Sendspace or Mediafire (or zip files)

Such a process doubles or triples the amount of time it can take to review a demo. We have to wade through cheap advertising and pop-ups just to download the file (which might also be throttled to be slow), wait for it to download, and then go to the download location and finally listen to it just to decide if the demo is good. Would you want to do all that?

DO NOT attach MP3s

Their web server may have specific restrictions such as maximum attachment size. This might prevent your demo from ever being received, in addition to the same reasons I listed in “no 3rd party links”.

DO NOT send in bootlegs or remixes

Why?

DO NOT send a long-winded bio or unnecessary details

The truth is that none of the info is relevant if the music is not up to par. I receive numerous submissions that include a long heart-felt and thought-out message, to which I immediately skip over, going straight to the streaming link (hopefully there is one). Let us get interested in your music first and we will ask what we need to know.

DO NOT insert lines such as “This is my first track” or “I’m a 14 year old producer”

An A&R is looking for the cream of the crop from even the experienced producers, and even then we want to seek out their best work. An artist’s best work will very rarely (if ever) come from his first year(s) of production. I understand the need to show people your new music, but that’s what friends and family are for (extra bonus if they give you honest opinions). If you are a teenage-phenom-producer, the people around you will let you know.

DO NOT link to a generic place where “all your music can be heard”

An example of this is: soundcloud.com/artist. In the moment, any A&R person will be too overwhelmed with your method of delivery to to hone in on a single song (or two), thus you will simply be skipped over. It also comes across as lazy.

DO NOT add the label manager on social media, and start sending him private messages with your demo (unless you know them personally)

We will remember your name (and not in the way you have intended).
To sum things up… DO NOT ACT DESPERATE

Desperation can be a terribly destructive feeling. It can take away all perspective and make you act impulsive in a way that might turn other people off, which is the opposite of your goal. If you are submitting music to a label that you respect for making cool, calculated moves then you need to embrace the same energy.

Overall, record labels want submissions from aspiring producers who have followed them for years, and understand the style of music they push and the way in which they push it. You must confidently cater your demo in a way that shows you respect and understand this.

Here are the instructions for what I consider to be “THE PERFECT DEMO.”

1. An appropriate title

Such as “Artist Name Demo”

2. Only send to one e mail address

You can CC or add an additional address if it is pertinent to the submission. For example you may have multiple contacts at the same label.

3. A short note

Such as “I am x producer from x country. I have been following the label for x amount of time, and i submit this demo for you“. (extra credit for mentioning the label name in your short, but sweet introduction as it shows the message was meant specifically for the label you are sending it to).

4. A link to one or two streaming songs

Preferably private Soundcloud links, no more than two. If the label likes the songs the first question will usually be “Can i hear more?” followed by “Tell me about yourself?”

*BONUS* Are you friends with an artist already on the label?

If so, kindly ask them to forward your demo. This will be listened to with great attention, and you will already know your demo is up to the necessary standard (if they are a good friend, that is).
 
 

Post by Aaron Simpson founder and CEO of Simplify Recordings & Build It Records.
Interested in sending a your demo to Simplify Recordings? Welcome to do so at: demos@simplifyrecordings.com
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