How good does your Song Demo need to be?
This is a question on many of our client's minds. Maybe you are also wondering.
Because it used to be that audio quality wasn’t so important on a demo. For any aspiring singer/songwriter, the advice used to be, “Hey, just get the stuff on cassette or MP3. You ’n your guitar. Don’t worry about sound quality, or recording quality, don't worry about extra instruments or professional playing. As long as they can hear the words, the chord changes, and your vocal quality, you’ll be fine.”
Hmmm... ok times have definitely changed.
It is estimated now that 30,000 new songwriters emerge in the US alone every year, and that's based on registrations with songwriting organisations and songwriting courses and classes. Globally, there are likely to be millions of aspiring songwriters. So these days, it's all about having the edge. You need your demo to stand out from the crowd when you finally get some industry person to listen to it. It needs to be done right.
Industry executives when they put on headphones and listen to ANYTHING expect to hear highly talented players, perfectly mixed sound, crisp bass, and pitch perfect vocals, and that's before they even start listening to the song, the lyrics, the chords or the riffs. Plus industry people have a short attention span. One insider said it's common for executives listening to demos to skip to the next demo after listening for only 10 seconds (the intro only!) So what's happening there? That's right, they are probably skipping because the QUALITY isn't good enough.
So much for listening to your song!!
For better or for worse, that's the reality these days. Even basic audio quality is now so good that you can’t really afford to have anything less. Everyone can get a half decent sound in a home studio. So how to stand out?
What does good audio quality even mean? Great (and often expensive) microphones, perfectly placed, a quiet acoustically treated studio, experienced mixing, dedicated comping and editing, and studio quality post-production. This is definitely not a demo made in your garage. You use that to get ready to cut the demo!
A lot of songwriters who have cut demos either themselves or through common demo services ask "Why doesn't my music sound as 'produced' as the music I hear on commercial CDs or the radio?" There is no magic answer. Some people assume that the superior equipment used in a pro studio is the key, but although solid quality gear is required to do the job properly, that's usually not actually the core issue. A few years ago, the drum sound was what gave away most demos, but now everyone has good drum machines, drum samples and sample loops so that isn't it.
The simple fact is that these days, it's usually the quality of the instrumental playing, and the quality of the vocalist that gives away a poor demo.
And of course, nothing will fix a weak song.
And so a question that we all have to deal with as songwriters in the commercial market is how to demo our songs. Whether we can afford a studio and professional session players or a band, or we’re limited to a simple piano or guitar and vocal, because how we display our song greatly affects the way our songs and our artistry are perceived. The market we’re pitching our material in can shift our production and mix direction drastically. Whether we’re recording our songs for our own record or for others to sing also affects our final destination with the recording.
In the end, if you want to get your songs heard, and noticed, you are going to need a polished demo.
If you want to get really noticed (remember the 30,000 songwriters?) - you are going to need something special. But who can afford that kind of money, or has those kind of industry connections?
That's where we come in.
We are Dublin Studio Hub