Sending a demo CD to a record label for a slim (less than 1% ) chance of getting signed is…well, still worth it.
After all, all you have to do is send your kit or email blast to these labels, right? Easy peasy?
Kinda, but not really. Let me explain. Record labels get hundreds of demos and email daily so you cannot just send a regular demo, you have to make it special. Apart from making sure your demo CD kicks some serious ass, you have to do the following to get a chance of being reviewed:
#1 Find out if you’re a match or not
The first thing to do before sending your demo CD out is to create a list of labels who might be interested in hearing what you have to offer. For example, sending a hip hop demo to an indie rock label would be futile. Look at what bands you like and what labels they are under. Ask yourself what labels deal with the kind of music you play and spend some time researching artists your sense of music style is similar to and what labels work with them. Get informed.
According to Sound On Sound, “One of the most common complaints from A&R people at record companies is that the senders of unsolicited demos often make little attempt to ensure that the style and format of their recordings match what the record company deals with.” Send your demo CD to labels that you know will be interested in you – labels that represent artists with a similar sound as yours, and starter labels that are still young and more willing to take a chance.
#2 Do a background check of the person you’re sending it to.
Do not mis-spell their names. Be aware of their activities. Do not put yourself into irrelevantly foolish situation. You may lose your chance even before you get heard.
#3 Know About Demo CD Policies
When you have drafted your list of labels, make it a point to learn about each label’s policy on demos. At times you find that larger labels don’t accept demos that weren’t sought after because it happens that some people send them demos and then later sue them, claiming their songs were stolen. Most labels have demo policies on their websites. When looking through these policies, find out the following:
Are unsolicited demos accepted?
What are the acceptable demo formats? (CD, mp3 clips, thumb drives, etc.)
Demo mailing address
Is there a specific demo rep that you address your package to?
#4 Make your demo CD and kit catchy but concise.
As mentioned above, you have to stand out in every way but do not send something bulky. Most labels hate receiving big boxes with lots of unnecessary things inside it because it just fills up their room! That means be a minimalist because as a matter of fact, most of them prefer links only. But there’s still advantages in sending a kit because it is a reflection of you.
That’s about it for now. Next week, I will share some tips on how you can make a promotion package that the labels will surely like!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.