Things Every Songwriter Should Know
  ...from the Pros Who've Done it.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Submitting Your Demo

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andy Mesecher, Associate Editor of Music Connection Magazine

There are many reasons one might create a demo:

1. For the smoke and mirrors of a record deal.
2. As pre-production for your recording engineer or booking agent.
3. To promote an upcoming studio album.
4. For entry level reviews.
5. For your EPK, etc.

Whatever the reason, these tips are crucial for any level of submission:

1. Make your package clear.
You would be surprised how many people do not follow this simple step. I have witnessed a band get a stellar review only to find out there was no contact information provided in the package, the CD was not labeled and there was no way of truly identifying the group.

When you submit your press kit, always label your cd, then label your tracks again on something the listener can hold while reviewing your demo. A “RIYL” (Review If You Like) list is also crucial. If the label or booking agent is looking for an Iggy Pop style band and sees your artwork is similar, but then you sound like Shania Twain, you have wasted his or her time.

2. Make your package memorable.
In the three years I have been at Music Connection, I have seen some of the most elaborate press kits; everything from an “Enema” pill that contained a USB stick with the band’s information, to a Chinese take-out box full of smaller take out boxes containing bio information. While these are memorable and funny styles of submission, they are also very expensive and impractical. But there are alternatives. I have seen a singer-songwriter submit a toy kazoo with her demo that had her name on it. That’s genius! A tangible form of swag that will likely be in my office for years to come, which will be viewed by any industry head that comes through this office!

3. List your accolades.
Let’s face it, the industry isn’t about “making it big” any longer; it’s about survival. This doesn’t only apply to artists. Booking agents, managers, publicists, engineers, etc., are in the same survival mode as you and your band. Because of this, they want you to prove why they should take the time to hear you. Have you won a battle of the bands? Do you sell-out good sized venues? List things like this, and always add publication quotes of previous reviews.

4. Do not send MP3 via email.
Nothing infuriates someone more than coming into work to find out their inbox was clogged over night and all of their emails were bounced back to sender. Always contact whomever the package is intended in advance, and ask them how they would like to receive the media. If you cannot afford to mail packages (which many companies don’t accept anyway), websites like BandCamp and ReverbNation are intended to help!

5. Check your demo before sending.
Last but not least, check your demo before you send it out. If you’re burning CDs on your CPU, it is likely that there will be a 5-8% failure rate (depending on how many you are cranking out). Because of this, the person checking out your demo may hear pops, skips, or even DEAD AIR instead of what you sent them… woops!

Look, this is the music world. You joined this industry to express yourself and to not “conform” to the regular 9-5, so of course you should take these tips with a grain of salt. I am not a 25 year veteran of the industry, but I am someone who watches 1000+ demos come-and-go each year. Seeing what I’ve seen and watching so many bands continually grow, it can only help to keep these 5 tips in mind before wasting the postage on that next Kit.

Andy Mesecher
Associate Editor
Music Connection Magazine

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