Submiting demo tapes
Okay- sweeties, this is the information and advice – I got from hosting music workshops, interviewing musicians, looking at web sites, and a little bit of common sense.
First things to know:
Many record label an radio station have demo policies on their site; but not all of them. So, here are instructions about how to go about submitting a demo.
Actually mail in a demo tape, CD, record and press kit; most places don’t have time to check out your web site and listen to your MP3, so don’t just email them that. Most place have meetings with they play demos or someone will listen to the demo, maybe while doing something else (that quite possibility a reality).
Where to send it to:
1) Make sure you are a good fit – check out the play list of the station or the bands on a label, and see if they are in the same genre as your band. Don’t send your punk demo to a country station. Do some research.
2) See if they take submissions: Some record label due to their small staff don’t accept unsolicited demos and don’t have time to listen to submissions. Save your self the postage and don’t send demos to them – demo tapes and mailing cost money. (take risk and submit to places; but not ones that are pretty much a defiant ‘no’.) Check the site, see if there is a demo policy or anything FAQ that tells you about this. Or call and ask if possible.
Some honest demo policies:
We listen to all tapes and CDs we receive. That said, we mainly release music by our friends and others primarily from the Washington, DC area. Please send your music to the Cambridge address.” - Teen Beat Records
“Q: what is your demo tape policy? A: Slim regrets to say that due to backlog and general overload he will not be able to listen to demo tapes for the next six months or so. This is only a temporary policy change but is effective immediately. posted 6/18/04” – Kill Rock Star
“Hey Bands, please do not ask us for releasing your stuff at the moment cause we cannot help you out!” – Rock Star Records
3) Find out who to send it to. Check the web site or call. Find out the name of the music director or the person, who decides what bands get signed. If you can’t get that info make sure to have at least something like “ Attn: music department” or “Attn: demo review.” – so it will get into to the right mail box.
What to have actually on the demo itself (CD or tape if
(even if it is in a letter with the demo. Put it on the demo itself.)
1) Band Name (a given)
2) Contact info (a phone number. P.O. Box, email – that you know you will have for a long while, or a website URL- we will later discuss about web pages.)
3) Put the city and state your band is from: college stations and some indie labels favor hometown bands, and you will want to use that to your advantage.
In the demo packaging:
1) List of the songs
2) Thank people – It is good karma and it makes you look like good people (don’t make it like an Oscar speak and have pages of thanks yous though.)
3) Stand out visually: Find an artist friend to make you a unique cover – something that says “Play me” Your demo maybe one of hundreds, so standing out can’t hurt.
Songs on the demo:
1) You only need three or so of your best songs for a demo (that may be all anyone has time to listen to)
2) Put songs of different tempos and such, that show that you have range.
3) More on making a demo tape later
In the letter & press kit with demo:
1) A description of your sound
2) Info about whose in the band and their past bands.
3) A list of stations on before, some top shows, and any awards
4) Any good articles written about the band (or quotes)
5) Unless it is a kit for a publication that may run a picture – glossy photos aren’t necessary unless your look is unique or will work to your advantage.
6) Kissing up a bit not bad (You don’t have to build a shrine to them, but a little flattery isn’t bad). Do some research about the label or station and/ or the actually music director or label president. Saying how it would be an honor or has been a dream to be played on such and such station or on label X because they first played or signed so and so, who has been so inspirational to you. See if the actual person, you are contacting has a radio show or band – complement them personally.
7) Gifts and swag: If you have some stickers or buttons with a cool design add them in. You may not want to do over board with this; since realistically you will be sending out demos to 100s or stations and labels to only get maybe (especially at first) get a handful of replies.
8) Editing – run spell check on anything you send out and have someone read it over for you.
9) More on proper design of a press kit – later.
1) Sometimes if you really want to get on a college station, you can come after hours and try to get in to see the DJ (overnight DJs are best for this) and bring beer, food, and your demo.
2) If you are really personable or hot or have a friend, who is and will work for you- try handing in things directly at stations.
3) Any response you get (and many places will be to busy to give any response) even negative. Reply to with respect and politeness. Something like “Thank you for taking the time to list to our demo…” “Do you have any suggestions for us?”. Your band will most likely get more polished with time and the sound might evolve into something they may like. So, you may in the future want to send them a new demo. Don’t make enemies. Try to make friends.
Good luck! Go out there and get your music out there.