How To Record Your First Demo

So you’ve been thinking of recording your first demo but need a few short simple guidelines to help you get started. Don’t worry; a demo tape can seem like a daunting task but definitely not an impossible feat. Here are the basic steps of recording your first Demo:

Decide on the Purpose of Your Demo Tape

Think about your main objective. Who is your target audience? Is the tape going to be used to send over to venues? Is it something that you want to upload on your Soundcloud, Bandcamp or other online music platforms you’re currently using? Maybe you’re unsure of what you want to do with the demo in the first place. Here are a few ideas to help you focus the intent:

-Sell your demo on iTunes (Here you might want to include your catchiest songs)
-Send your demo to a radio station
-Upload your band’s website with more/new music
-Create a simple sample of your technical music skills and ability (If you’re a singer you might want to showcase your vocal range or control)

Focus on Your Top 3

By top 3, I mean your top 3 songs. Make these choices count and select the correct material to meet your goals. Maybe you want to submit one instrumental, one with a low tempo and one with a higher tempo. If you’re trying to get hired as a lead guitarist, a demo that includes how you can play along with jazz, rock, and blues could be your top 3. Including a variety of skills will make your demo stand out.

Below is an example of a rock band demo:

Edit, Mix, Finalise

Give the demo your last few brush strokes. Whoever’s in charge of the recording aspect of your demo (doesn’t only have to be your recording engineer) should clean up each and every one of your audio tracks. Make sure to remove unwanted sounds and space. Balance the tone of your sound, add reverberation, compression and effects. The mixing process should balance out the volume levels and different elements of the tracks to achieve your desired result. This is your time to determine the setup for your finalized CD!

Market Away!

First, any full-length tracks should be at the bare minimum rate of 128 kb/s. However, your goal should be to hit the 192 kb/s mark. When uploading your demo, try to place the files in RAR or ZIP file which is secured with a password for safety. Sharing sites like yousendit and zippyshare can help you with the upload. Keep in mind that when making these steps, they are given to you assuming that you want to send them to a record label by email. Sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp can do most of this work for you.

Your email should include a professional salutation, a short band bio, why you made the track (what it means to you, what you want listeners to get out of it, what does it showcase), and links to all other important sources (band website, social media, press clippings).

Take a Deep Breath

The record company may not get back to you as soon as you’d like, but be patient. If the label doesn’t like your music, it might mean that it doesn’t fit their taste and standards. No matter what, keep playing and keep producing. Many of today’s influential leaders have gotten several rejections and failures before they reached their goal. Regardless of your listeners’ responses, keep playing and stay true to your style. Learn from constructive criticism, but never try to fit in to get noticed. Rather, continue improving and before you know it, you’ll have real fans because they’re attracted to your genuine music. All the other good stuff will come.

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Michelle Aguilar has a strong passion and love for music – and it’s history. She enjoys reading literary books, dancing, trip-hop/indie venues, working on her blog, and digging up new music. 

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