Sending your demo to a label tips
Here are five tips to make sure your demo gets the attention it deserves. You’ve slaved away over a hot DAW for weeks, and, finally, your beautifully-crafted banger is ready to release into the wild. So you need to find a label. But this is a competitive business, and you know your favourite imprints must get hundreds of demos a week. So, how do you make sure you stand out from all the other talented and ambitious up-and-comers out there?
Getting rejected is no fun for anyone. But even though you can never guarantee a particular A&R person will fall in love with your music, you can increase your chances by putting in the groundwork.
Do you KNOW your music is good enough? Have you tested it on several different speaker and headphone setups? Have you asked for, and received, honest feedback from people who know what they’re talking about? Can you play your demo straight after your favourite tracks without noticing a drop-off in quality?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then maybe you’re not ready to send your demo out just yet. You’re much better off spending extra time honing your skills, and getting your music as good as it can be. You get one go at making that amazing first impression, and if that means spending an extra couple of days, or weeks, or months working on your tracks then it’s worth it.
Do your research
You can massively cut down the amount of times you get rejected (or straight up ignored) by knowing a bit about the label. Who’s currently on their roster? What are some of the stand-out releases from their back catalogue? Do they invite unsolicited demos?
The key thing is to understand the style of the label’s output, and only to send them music which fits their specific genre, and sub-genre. You might be the best acid techno producer in the world, but if you send it to a deep house label, you’re not going to get anywhere.
And remember, labels evolve over time. Just because they released music a bit like yours five years ago doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they’re looking for now. Make sure you’ve heard their most recent output so you have a good understanding of where they are now.
Yes, you’re not applying for a job as an accountant, but presenting yourself in a professional way is still important. You want to have a business relationship with the label you’re contacting, so be business-like in your attitude.
The main part of this is being able to expressing yourself clearly. Don’t write an essay, but make sure the email which accompanies your demo is easy to read, understandable, and contains all the necessary information, including your contact details.
Not everyone is equally skilled at music production and writing emails, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who knows what they’re doing if that side of things isn’t your strong point.
If you love your music, that’s great! Other people will make their own minds up though. Telling them how sick your tunes are and how amazing you are at production will not endear you to an A&R exec.
If your music is as brilliant as you think it is, that’ll come through when they listen to your demo. Feel free to tell them a bit about yourself and your influences, and even any achievements you might have had in music, but keep it factual. In this transaction, your opinion of your own music is not relevant, only the label’s view matters.
Go the extra mile
Is it NECESSARY to write a bio for yourself, have your demo professionally mastered, and create artwork for it? Nope. It’s not necessary, BUT it won’t do you any harm either, so why not back yourself and put in that extra work.
Ultimately, you’re in competition with all the other artists who sent in demos that month, and that extra few percent of effort might be just enough to make you stand out. Labels don’t have infinite capacity for releases, and if they’ve got one slot available in their schedule, they’d rather give it to someone who looks like they care, all else being equal.
Simple! Now all you have to do is make the music…
Get constructive advice on your demo and much more by enrolling on our Basic Music Production course.