Learn how to send a demo to record labels. This guide will help you through the demo submission process and get your music heard by record labels.
Do you have finished tracks and want to send a demo to record labels? Signing your music with an established record label is the best way to reach a global audience. But how do you get a record label to listen to your demo, and how do you persuade them to release it? This guide outlines several critical steps to help with the demo submission process.
Preparing your demo for submission is an essential first step. Before you send a demo to a record label, ensure your music is sounding the best it possibly can. Don’t waste an A&R manager’s time with unfinished or poor quality tracks. Make sure your tracks are finished, mixed down, and either mastered or ready for mastering. Send your best work!
How do you know if your tracks are ready for release? The short answer is, ask for feedback. Seek feedback from people whose opinion you value such as another music producer with experience. Moreover, be cautious about asking close friends and relatives. They may not provide hard criticism because of their close connection to you.
Furthermore, ensure you’re exporting your tracks in the correct format and tagging them properly. Most labels prefer links to stream demos over downloading them. Make sure the exported tracks meet the requirements of your preferred streaming service. Or, find out what file format a label prefers and use a service like Dropbox to send a download link. Labels often prefer MP3 files over other formats because of there smaller file size. Also, give your tracks clear file names and ID3 tags. For example, Artist Name, Track Title, and contact information such as an email address.
Lastly, DO NOT send demos with copyrighted material unless it’s cleared for use. Labels will reject tracks that could land them in legal trouble. Moreover, avoid sending remixes and mashups. Labels want original work and not to worry about copyright issues.
Many record labels specialize in a specific genre and style. It’s essential that you research a label before sending them your demo. Also, make sure your music aligns with the music they release. It makes zero sense sending a future house track to a techno label.
Moreover, check out the other artists signed to the label your researching. Does your style of music sound similar to theirs? Also, research artists that produce the same style of music as you and find what labels work with them.
Lastly, compile a list of the labels you want to release with the most. Familiarize yourself with those labels. Look for their website, SoundCloud, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and other channels. Find names and contact information such as the A&R manager’s email address. Also, locate their demo policy!
The more you know about the label, the better. The information you collect will help you personalize your message during the submission process. It will also help you reach the right people.
Once you have your list of labels, locate and carefully read their demo policies. Most labels have a demo policy displayed on their website. A demo policy outlines a set of guidelines they require for demo submissions. Some also offer advice. Demo policies often include information about:
Before you send anything, find out how the label accepts demos. Most labels prefer private streaming links to your hosted demos. For instance, private SoundCloud links with downloads enabled have become an industry standard. Moreover, sending a link to stream your demo is fast and easy. The easier you make it for someone to access and listen to your music the better.
Avoid attaching your tracks to emails unless the label prefers it. Emails with attachments are often deleted for security purposes or end up in the Spam folder. Also, files can take long to download, clog inboxes, and can seem suspicious.
Most people in the music industry have public accounts on social media. Although these accounts let you message them directly, it doesn’t mean they want to receive your demos there.
It’s a professional courtesy to communicate on the label’s official channels. Avoid messaging through social media to ask about your demos. Personal and business communication are two different things. Demos sent in social media messages are often rejected or never read.
Instead, look for a label’s official contact methods for demo submissions. Visit the label’s website or Facebook page and locate their contact or demo submission instructions.
Record labels can receive dozens or even hundreds of demo submissions a day. Personalizing your message is vital to stand out from the crowd.
Like any emails, the golden rule is to keep them simple, concise, straight-to-the-point, and polite. For example, briefly introduce yourself, say something about your track(s) and why they are a good fit for the label. Below are some best practices:
Lastly, avoid sending mass mailings to multiple labels. This approach is not effective and often rejected. A&R managers are keen to spot lazy attempts using marketing software and unsolicited emails. It’s always best to put in the effort and personalize your email to the specific record label.
Building relationships and networking in the music industry is always helpful. Get out and connect with people, regardless of their status. Try to meet other artists, producers, DJ’s, publicists, booking agents, label staff, fans, and anyone else in the music industry. These connections could lead to opportunities. But, do so in a professional manner and don’t be a stalker.
The waiting game starts once you send your demo to a label. It takes some patience before knowing your tracks fate. It also takes time to go through demos, especially for labels that receive 100’s a day. Moreover, it could take several weeks before getting a reply.
If the label has a demo follow-up policy, make sure you stick to that. If not, it’s safe to send a follow-up email after a couple of weeks. Send a short, polite email asking if they received your demo and had a chance to listen to it. The hard truth is, you will get a reply if they find your demo is a good fit the label. Otherwise, you should not expect a response.
Don’t despair if a label rejects your demo. Perhaps the rejection has nothing to do with your track’s quality, but rather it doesn’t fit with the label’s sound. Take it as a learning experience and continue improving your music. Accepting rejection and learning what works and what doesn’t helps you grow as a producer!
Send a polite email thanking them for taking the time to check out your music. Also, ask for feedback, advice, and suggestions of other labels that may like your music.
Also, don’t scratch a label off your list if they reject your demo. You can always send another demo to labels that have rejected you in the past.
Below are some top Dos and Don’ts to help with demo submissions. Before you send a demo to a record label, check out these tips:
These tried-and-true tips are sure to guide you in the right direction during the demo submission process. When you’re ready to send a demo to a record label, remember that first impressions make a difference. Good luck!
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