Sending off demo's to record companies?


PDA

View Full Version : Sending off demo's to record companies?


Descendent-182
12-22-2009, 06:07 PM
My band Half-Chance Heroes is just finishing up our four song demo and we are sending our demo off to Stomp Records which we have made contact via email. Any tips or suggestions?
My band www.myspace.com/onedaytakeback :D

Xiaoxi
12-22-2009, 06:10 PM
Don't bother without a lawyer to send it.

itchy guitar
12-22-2009, 06:12 PM
Have you ever seen Airheads? Yea, "if its unsolicited, I can't touch it."

Deliriumbassist
12-22-2009, 06:14 PM
Don't just send a demo. Send a press pack- so professional photos, gigs played, gigs upcoming, short bio, links, any media coverage etc.

floydfan1116
12-22-2009, 09:49 PM
I read the title as "sending off demons to record companies"...im disappointed.

tr3nt
12-22-2009, 09:52 PM
What Delirium said sounds good.

And you guys are awesome, I love this. Your singers voice rocks ass.

drugfreeboy
12-22-2009, 10:26 PM
My band Half-Chance Heroes is just finishing up our four song demo and we are sending our demo off to Stomp Records which we have made contact via email. Any tips or suggestions?
My band www.myspace.com/onedaytakeback :D


alright first off how long have you been a band? how long have you been around? how many shows do you play within a month? stuff like that...

no record label is gonna be interested in a band that hasn't been around for a while or played many gigs. they aren't gonna take a risk on a band that hasn't played out for a while.

BR0KENHEARTED
12-22-2009, 10:28 PM
Press kit homie.

BR0KENHEARTED
12-22-2009, 10:30 PM
Oh. And invest in an image please.

BGSM
12-22-2009, 10:54 PM
no way you're going to get signed with that myspace the way it is. spam friends for myspace invites, and get someone to make it look better. your logo is the worst band logo i've ever seen. good songs though.

hriday_hazarika
12-22-2009, 11:33 PM
Don't forget to send a copy to Jade Tree Records. They're only interested in the music, not the statistics of your band.

Descendent-182
12-25-2009, 02:22 PM
okay guys thanks alot! I'll take all your advice! Merry CHristmas!

JackFlash19
12-26-2009, 06:29 PM
I wouldn't send that 'demo' off to the record company just yet. And not just the demo needs to be sent. Play some gigs, build a following, have people write reviews about you. If you plan on giving it a legit shot with a record company, don't just look like a couple of kids who threw some stuff together. The drum sound quality is the most important part of the recording process. Those drums sound very weak. You only have a couple of seconds to impress the label whigs and you know what he's going to say when he hears that? "Well, they didn't take the time to make this cd sound good. They must not really care about what they are sending to people. They obviously aren't trying to impress me. And the band photo? Was this taken on a cell phone?....." and he'll trash it. Because he has hundreds of other bands that are submitting demos he has to sift through.

He is also going to see that you only have 73 friends and have one show booked and no press about you. He sees that you have 2 comments from fans per month. Half is other bands spam. If noone else is excited about your band, why should he be? You have to do something to set yourself apart from all the other band submissions he gets.

Get a professional sounding demo. Get professional band photos done. (color & black and white. Labels need to be able to print b&w pics in the newspaper) Get a myspace that looks like you made a significant effort. Play some shows and get other people excited about your band. Then the label will see all that and think "Hey, it looks like these guys have their stuff together. Let me listen some more." And once you have that extra bit of consideration, then you can impress the A&R guy with your spectacular musical prowess and blow his socks off. Because it's his job to bring the next awesome band to his boss. And if you don't impress him, you surely aren't going to impress the guy that says "Yes, good find. Sign them!"

Do some research on putting together a legit press kit. Gain a following and THEN send it off.



Don't bother without a lawyer to send it.

^This is stupid. Don't waste your money having a lawyer mail something off that you can do. Noone has lawyers send press packs.........

Don't forget to send a copy to Jade Tree Records. They're only interested in the music, not the statistics of your band.

Whatever you may think, Jade Tree Records DOES in fact look at statistics of the bands they sign. There is NO label that doesn't unless the music is just THAT marketable. They have to so they know what work still needs to be done to get the band where it needs to be.

darthbuttchin
12-27-2009, 06:47 AM
Make sure you are totally ready. Send a press-kit not just a demo. Make sure you are really selling yourself in that kit, aswell as on your myspace and any other places you are advertising yourself.

If you are totally ready and do all that, and everything else suggested in the thread, then you may stand a 'half-chance' with the record labels.

(sorry couldn't resist the pun)

db

Xiaoxi
12-27-2009, 07:21 AM
I
^This is stupid. Don't waste your money having a lawyer mail something off that you can do. Noone has lawyers send press packs.........
Fun fact for you: most labels nowadays require a lawyer to submit demo material from a band.

JackFlash19
12-27-2009, 05:40 PM
Fun fact for you: most labels nowadays require a lawyer to submit demo material from a band.

You want to link me to a labels page that says that?

Xiaoxi
12-27-2009, 06:18 PM
You want to link me to a labels page that says that?
The precise reason why they don't explicitly state this requirement is to weed out people who don't know about it. They use the lawyer requirement as a barrier to entry because there is simply too much volume of demos sent to them.

BrianApocalypse
12-27-2009, 06:44 PM
I don't have anything to add to this thread, but I just wanted to say that your songs are extremely good.

Thank you, and sorry for spamming the thread up. :(

JackFlash19
12-27-2009, 07:00 PM
The precise reason why they don't explicitly state this requirement is to weed out people who don't know about it. They use the lawyer requirement as a barrier to entry because there is simply too much volume of demos sent to them.


uh-huh. I could believe this to be somewhat true for the label giants, but for the majority not-so-much. RCA, BMG, Sony, Time Warner.....I'm sure they all have filtrations systems in place to weed out bands that aren't as serious, but I doubt it would be a lawyer. They either don't take submissions mailed directly from bands, or require the bands to go through a music-oriented intermediary, such as a management company or A&R rep. Really, anyone that has money could pay a lawyer to mail something off to a label. If I had a crappy band and a rich dad, I could get my stuff to a label easy simply because a lawyer is going to take the money to put his letterhead on it and mail if off.

If it goes through the system like it should, the submissions will be weeded out by those with an ear for music, not for the law. (management, promotions, A&R reps, etc)

There are THOUSANDS of indie labels out there, and if the majority of them required lawyers to be the go-between for them and the music, they wouldn't get any submissions from the new and great bands that just don't feel the need to throw down a couple hundred bucks to get a lawyer to mail something that MIGHT get picked up. The indie labels depend on press kit submissions, referrals, and keeping their finger on the pulse of the industry.

Common sense would say that if they were needing to 'weed out' so many submissions and they required a lawyer, they would post it AS A REQUIREMENT rather than taking the time to respond to hundreds of emails/press kits. Your 'insider info' is false I'm afraid.

Xiaoxi
12-27-2009, 07:35 PM
Really, anyone that has money could pay a lawyer to mail something off to a label. If I had a crappy band and a rich dad, I could get my stuff to a label easy simply because a lawyer is going to take the money to put his letterhead on it and mail if off.

If it goes through the system like it should, the submissions will be weeded out by those with an ear for music, not for the law. (management, promotions, A&R reps, etcWhy do you think there is so much generic music out there? Partly because the lawyers who shop for demos (yes, they actually do this) are the ones "with the ears".

Your 'insider info' is false I'm afraid.Well, then I guess the explicit warning I got from the seasoned veterans of the music industry are "false". :rolleyes:

Descendent-182
12-28-2009, 02:15 AM
Thanks for the advice for those who gave it... I think I will wait awhile to build a better following before I send off demo's.

JackFlash19
12-28-2009, 02:38 AM
Why do you think there is so much generic music out there? Partly because the lawyers who shop for demos (yes, they actually do this) are the ones "with the ears".

Well, then I guess the explicit warning I got from the seasoned veterans of the music industry are "false". :rolleyes:


You said most labels require lawyers to submit demos. I said it might be true for the major labels, but NOT for the majority of record labels....So the music-shopping lawyers are the ones bringing all the generic music to the scene? I think not. The labels know what type of musical formula has the best and most widespread appeal, which is what we know as 'generic' music. The majors also have the most pull at radio stations and with other media outlets. With everything the labels have to do, I doubt they would be paying lawyers to shop for music, when someone without a law degree can do the 'shopping' for a significantly lower cost. Saying you got the warning from 'seasoned veterans of the industry' really adds no merit to your point to me without citing any references. I can, however, cite references to back up my points, if you would like.

JackFlash19
12-28-2009, 02:41 AM
Thanks for the advice for those who gave it... I think I will wait awhile to build a better following before I send off demo's.



No prob. That's a good idea. The greater following you have the more leverage you have when negotiating a contract with a label. If you can tell a label "We sold x thousand units last year", you will be able to have more say over things (such as which producer to use, what songs go on the next record, your image etc) than if you say you only sold a few hundred. Promote! Promote! Promote! Always have something to give people to take home with your name on it. Bumper sticker, cd, shirt anything. Good luck!

axemanchris
12-29-2009, 12:07 AM
JackFlash +1 on all counts.

About the lawyer thing.... It sounds like the OP has had email communication with this smaller label. It seems implicit that they have given the okay to send the demo.

Now, the big labels don't want unsolicited demos. That's a pretty widely-known fact.

Now, the word 'solicited' can mean a lot of things. In general terms, it means they want to receive it via some channel that assures them that it is worth their time and effort. If one of their A+R people is reading some trade publication and notices that your band is generating a lot of hype and still isn't signed, that A+R person may well contact you and ask for your press kit. It was solicited by the label rep.

Aside from that, there ARE people that these label folks trust. If you are signed with a major entertainment management agency like Bruce Allen Talent (manages Brian Adams, Michael Buble, Anne Murray, Bob Rock), you can bet that someone like him will have no problem getting your demo into the hands of the major label people - IF he believes in it! Those people build their reputations - and their reputation is their livelihood - on recognizing what the industry players want and giving it to them. When Bruce Allen says to the Sony rep, "I've got something I want you to hear," they listen, because he is one of the biggest players in the biz and he knows what he's talking about. They know their not going to get some garage-rock 17-year-olds with crappy songs.

Of course, if you're good enough to get on with an agency like that, you've probably already got label support....

It's kind of the viscious circle of "how can I get a loan without a credit history" and "how can I get credit history if nobody will give me a loan?"

Even your entertainment lawyer, though, does not guarantee it will get accepted. If your entertainment lawyer is some nobody that they don't know, you might as well get your mom to send it on your behalf. If it is someone like Sanderson/Taylor sending it (Barenaked Ladies, Billy Talent, April Levigne), then they'll listen. But again.... they won't send it unless they really believe in it, because THEIR reputation is a stake too.

CT

ChrisMill5
01-04-2010, 06:50 PM
You want to link me to a labels page that says that?

Any company that doesn't accept un-solicited materials is a company that requires a lawyer. Any big name company doesn't accept unsolicited because they don't want to be liable for any music you send in that vaguely sounds like their next big record.

http://www.capitolrecords.com/home/companyinfo.aspx

MR. Goodcents
01-04-2010, 08:24 PM
I didn't think labels even accepted demos anymore due to the massive amounts they receive every day? Unless it is a smaller label, that is actually looking at signing unknown bands. But if you are going to send something in try and think about what the label wants. Money!!! They want a band to sell, they need image, and they need to know that people will pay to see you. This is why acts such as Miley Cyrus are huge, and many great bands go unnoticed. It's not enough to have good music anymore, you need to have something that can show that you will make profits.

axemanchris
01-05-2010, 12:40 AM
While there may be some truth to the liability thing, I think the bigger reason is that they just don't want to spend months mining through tens of thousands of crappy demos to find the one good one. Screening them first through other sources means that most of the crap will not make it through the gate.

Even the Capitol site that was linked reaffirmed my comments about receiving them from credible sources - not just lawyers.

CT

JackFlash19
01-06-2010, 05:58 PM
Thank you Axemanchris.

Any company that doesn't accept un-solicited materials is a company that requires a lawyer. Any big name company doesn't accept unsolicited because they don't want to be liable for any music you send in that vaguely sounds like their next big record.

http://www.capitolrecords.com/home/companyinfo.aspx

....... See THIS POST (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=22746613&postcount=24) and ALL of THIS POST (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showpost.php?p=22733086&postcount=19)

Un-solicited means un-wanted, gratuitous, offered, spontaneous, uninvited, unrequested, volunteered.
Simply because alot of businesses use the word and you see it on doors does not mean a lawyer needs to be involved. If you actually READ the whole thing you'll notice something.

"We will ONLY accept material submitted through established sources (i.e. managers, attorneys, agents, producers, publishers, etc.)"

It seems to me that there are 4 OTHER types of people in that list. That little word at the end 'etc'....That means "and others". Which means that list is longer than they care to type out.

Established sources does not solely mean 'lawyer'. Chris said it best. Their sources are the people whose opinion they trust.

ncregan
01-07-2010, 01:38 AM
no way you're going to get signed with that myspace the way it is. spam friends for myspace invites, and get someone to make it look better. your logo is the worst band logo i've ever seen. good songs though.

You know bands don't get signed up by record labels for how good their Myspace looks or how many friends they have, its based on the music itself.

Niall :peace:

blue_strat
01-07-2010, 02:11 AM
You know bands don't get signed up by record labels for how good their Myspace looks or how many friends they have, its based on the music itself.

Niall :peace:
It's partly based on the music itself.

Record labels are businesses, and businesses want products to sell. If you show up with some fantastic, groundbreaking new music, but no coherent image and no way to sum yourselves up in a paragraph, referencing other artists to give people a compass; then they will tell you to go away, get a manager to organise and polish you, then come back when you're ready. No record label would be willing to go around shoving CDs at people without then being able to then point them to your corner of the marketplace.

Why were The Beatles and Led Zeppelin successful? Because they had great music and put themselves out there. They formed images and personas that could be integrated with the music and give people a warm cock to suck on instead of just the sound of a guy describing one.

Music is a human and personal thing, and people want to see who's singing about their feelings and their experiences. They want to see that they can grow their hair or take acid or any of the other things that the music describes, inspires and grows out of. The band has to give them that, or refuse them it; but whichever they choose, it has to be for a reason that is incorporated into the band's persona. They don't want to have to say, "The White Stripes are awesome, they sound ... really good. They get on a stage and play some guitar and drums." They want a mission to hang it on: they want to say, "Go see the White Stripes; they're wicked - kind of vaudaville sometimes, they take this old fashion and music and belt it out garage-style".

This gives the record label their blurb, their eye-catching album cover, their word-of-mouth cult-like spreading and their sales-boosting videos and tours. As opposed to "Mike plays the guitar, we've got Gary on bass and Charlie on drums. So, have you listened to the CD yet?"

ncregan
01-07-2010, 02:23 AM
It's partly based on the music itself.

Record labels are businesses, and businesses want products to sell. If you show up with some fantastic, groundbreaking new music, but no coherent image and no way to sum yourselves up in a paragraph, referencing other artists to give people a compass; then they will tell you to go away, get a manager to organise and polish you, then come back when you're ready. No record label would be willing to go around shoving CDs at people without then being able to then point them to your corner of the marketplace.

Why were The Beatles and Led Zeppelin successful? Because they had great music and put themselves out there. They formed images and personas that could be integrated with the music and give people a warm cock to suck on instead of just the sound of a guy describing one.

Music is a human and personal thing, and people want to see who's singing about their feelings and their experiences. They want to see that they can grow their hair or take acid or any of the other things that the music describes, inspires and grows out of. The band has to give them that, or refuse them it; but whichever they choose, it has to be for a reason that is incorporated into the band's persona. They don't want to have to say, "The White Stripes are awesome, they sound ... really good. They get on a stage and play some guitar and drums." They want a mission to hang it on: they want to say, "Go see the White Stripes; they're wicked - kind of vaudaville sometimes, they take this old fashion and music and belt it out garage-style".

This gives the record label their blurb, their eye-catching album cover, their word-of-mouth cult-like spreading and their sales-boosting videos and tours. As opposed to "Mike plays the guitar, we've got Gary on bass and Charlie on drums. So, have you listened to the CD yet?"

Perhaps I should have mentioned something about this however I meant that record labels look solely on the music as opposed to how many friends this band has on Myspace. I agree with the fact that labels do look at images too, but you gotta sound good first. Get a mix of image and originality.

Niall :peace:

blue_strat
01-07-2010, 02:45 AM
Perhaps I should have mentioned something about this however I meant that record labels look solely on the music as opposed to how many friends this band has on Myspace. I agree with the fact that labels do look at images too, but you gotta sound good first. Get a mix of image and originality.

Niall :peace:
So long as you've got good production and groove, it often doesn't really matter if you're original or not. The most successful (and therefore profitable) musicians, after all, are highly-skilled vocalists who go fishing for good songs and package them with flair.

Of course, if you've got some fantastic new genre of your own, then that's great; but I think every professional musician works out at some point that far more people will pay for something that are already familiar with elements of.

ncregan
01-07-2010, 03:00 AM
So long as you've got good production and groove, it often doesn't really matter if you're original or not. The most successful (and therefore profitable) musicians, after all, are highly-skilled vocalists who go fishing for good songs and package them with flair.

Of course, if you've got some fantastic new genre of your own, then that's great; but I think every professional musician works out at some point that far more people will pay for something that are already familiar with elements of.

I would have to say that it depends on what type of record label your aiming towards and the genre. I mean Roadrunner Records won't look for more familiar stuff, and will strive to get new, original talent into their ranks. On the other hand, popular record labels such as Domino Records or Sony will indeed look for the right music to brand towards the general public as "pop music"

Niall :peace:

Gurgle!Argh!
01-07-2010, 06:26 AM
just throwing out there (because i don't know if this has been covered) that this is in part a difference between majors and indies. most indies, and especially small indies, will be very happy to receive demos.

nonetheless, that is a minor thing. very few bands get signed because they submitted their unsollicited demo. your demo is there for getting gigs and early press, and for trying to build a 'buzz'.

of course, this is a side issue, since it sounds like this is a sollicited demo.

the memory
01-07-2010, 06:43 AM
Don't just send a demo. Send a press pack- so professional photos, gigs played, gigs upcoming, short bio, links, any media coverage etc.
This.

Make sure you have detailed information about yourself (a contact name/address/phone number) on the CD itself and also the packaging.

JackFlash19
01-07-2010, 07:07 AM
You know bands don't get signed up by record labels for how good their Myspace looks or how many friends they have, its based on the music itself.

Niall :peace:


You must not know how real record labels work do you?

Blue_strat has a pretty good idea. Yes, if the music is not there, you won't get signed. Bottom line. BUT! A record label signing a band is making an investment in you to hopefully turn a profit. They look at the product and what work they have to still to do get you in prime selling position.

They will sign you based only on the music IF and ONLY IF the writing is just THAT good. Those are rare finds. If the writing is ok, and presentation is top-notch, but you have zero fans, they aren't going to think you are anything special because noone else apparently thinks you are either. If the writing is mediocre, and presentation is ok, but you have a million fans scrambling for your cd of course they are going to sign you. Do you really think record labels don't hire out lyricists or buy songs for bands? They have image and stylist consultants ready to solidify your image if yours isn't marketable enough. Basically, they won't sign you if cost > investment + time. It's called Artist Development (http://www.musicbizacademy.com/articles/dp_artistdevelopment.htm)

In the music business, unfortunately, it is NOT all about the music. We would all like to believe so, and that is why we play. You will not get signed if you do not have the potential to sell. If the world only worried about the music and nothing else, there wouldn't be a need for album covers, band photos, stage presence, live shows, and the like. There would be cds sold and only the band name on a blank sleeve.

Since the latter is not the case, we tailor our music and dive deeper into our favorite albums to loosely (and maybe not purposely) model ourselves and our songs after our favorite artists. Generally our friends may happen to like the same bands as we do. You will find writing and musical style trends occur primarily in their respective social groups. 12-16 yr old girls. 18-27 yr old white males. 30-45 yr old married couples and so on; Boy bands, rock/metal, soft pop/classical etc. There are sales statistics that point to these trends (and the trends DO change with time). There are transversely general formulas that sell best. The labels know what is and will be popular, and they know how to fit that mold. The more you have your finger on the pulse of the demographic you are aiming for, the better chance you have at writing music that will sell.

Your image is equally important. Noone ever sees a live beach boys cover band dressed as kiss (although I would find that infinitely humorous). A band is a package deal. The more a label has to dress up each part of the package, the more hit-worthy your music writing and musicianship must be.

If you are wanting to be in a successful band, playing gigs, selling cds and making money, you are doomed to fail if you think you will survive and/or get signed based SOLELY on the music. Polish and re-polish EVERY aspect of your band, music, and image. You will need to to separate yourselves from all the other bands out there scrambling to get a deal.

axemanchris
01-07-2010, 08:59 AM
Right again, Jack.

Proof.... I was a member of TAXI for a while. As I looked at a lot of the industry listings where labels were looking for certain types of bands (even smaller labels), one of the things that often came up was that the band needed to have an established following. They had to have proven themselves that they are *currently* selling product.

The Barenaked Ladies had a cassette (because it was the late '80's when they started out) that they released independently. It went gold. Yes, Gold. Upon finding out about this, the labels were falling all over themselves wanting to sign them. It *didn't matter* what it sounded like!! It could have been six seconds of white noise for all they cared. The important thing was, the labels saw a product that was currently selling like hot-cakes through a limited infrastructure and saw an opportunity to jump into the pool with them, and together, with access to a huge infrastructure, make a TON of money together.

That's where it's at.

So, having a MySpace or a YouTube channel or a Facebook group that shows huge activity and huge interest, that can be a way of proving that you have something that will sell. Conversely, if you've been together for two years, have released a CD, done some touring, and still nobody has noticed, that is a sign to the labels that your product is something that won't readily sell.

CT

ncregan
01-07-2010, 01:35 PM
Actually I do have a fair understanding of how record companies work, what i was trying to say however was the record company in question won't look directly at the MySpace page of an underground band, see that it's good presentation and look immediately to sign them up without looking at their songs, where as a band with a decent MySpace page that has the essentials such as bio, songs, updates, gigs etc. will be favored upon due to their musical talents rather than their web page designing.

Also to axemanchris, a large activity on a bands MySpace or Facebook page doesn't necessarily mean that it will sell. Infact if you look across MySpace at numerous band profiles, you will see that although a lot of them have a large fan base, they will not have many songs or even many gigs under their belts for record companies to sign them up. The reason that they have so many fans is because they add anyone and everyone. It's the right idea to get noticed yeah, but when you have little songs, no.

Niall :peace:

chokmool
01-07-2010, 02:56 PM
Ah yes, the huge infrastructure. Even larger and more unforgiving than ever. Just from my observation of the industry, it is probably harder to break through to that structure now than ever, at least with the Majors. Over the years, they have lost most of their autonomy. They are now subsidiaries of multi-national media conglomerates.

Back in the days when their bank accounts were bloated because high sales, they could take more of a "shotgun" approach--sign a bunch of artists, and see who hit the bulls-eye. The failure rate of signed artists was pretty darn high. It probably still is, but to a lesser extent. Now they seem to love creating "marketing machines", just selling music doesn't cut it anymore.

I guess I'm saying that it depends upon what your aspirations are. I think there are some non-major labels out there, that have pretty good marketing and distribution structures. If you aspire to be huge, you'll probably have to go through them first anyway(unless you have a Dad like Billy Ray Cyrus), and that isn't easy either. Being successful really does depend many factors, and unfortunately, you do not have total control of all of them.

To the original question. I would never send a demo to a label of any size, without having made some kind of prior contact, and establishing their interest in my band.