The 18 “rules” to make your demo submission more successful
When joining in on a recent online music conference, I noticed that many producers have a lot of questions about what the best way is to send a demo of their music to a record label.
From the feedback we received when talking to record labels, we have compiled a list of rules, or tips and tricks if you will, that will dramatically increase your chance of having a label listen to your demo submission:
1. Select your best track. You have one shot, make it count.
Ideally you first send one track or maybe 2. That should trigger the interest and others can follow later.
2. Send finished tracks only, no snippets or un-mixed tracks.
3. Submit only original and not publicized material that you own.
4. Record labels will normally not sign remixes, bootlegs or mashups
Sure there is a very small chance that you made such an amazing remix that they can not resist, but think about the extra hassle it will take them to clear samples when they get large quantities of original material send to them already.
5. Don’t use recognizable samples that need licensing
You can use uncleared samples but this significantly reduces the chance of getting the track signed as clearing samples can be too costly and time consuming for record labels.
6. Send a private track with zero plays on it
Labels want to see unpublished work and “feel special”. Having an exclusive track send to only them makes them emotionally more likely to sign it (think of this in terms of dating, you like the be the one and only chosen one right?)
7. Make the track stream-able and downloadable
Besides listening to the track online, A&Rs sometimes like to test out tracks in their sets to see the reaction of their audience before deciding on signing it. Do not send the actual mp3 or wav files. It just blocks up email servers.
8. Give your track and filename a proper and ideally interesting name
We all have been there, finalversion23, really-final-now-974, right? Make sure that your track title as well as filename stand out from the crowd.
9. Professional mastering is not required, but it does not hurt either
At least make sure that your loudness levels are up to par and you have a very solid sounding final mix.
10. Save some tracks for your social media
You will need some tracks to showcase your music to your audience. For this you can either choose tracks that were already released or use tracks that you will not submit to labels.
11. Select up to 5 initial labels to send your demo to
Do not just send out your track to any label you can find. It will just waste your time as well as the A&R at the label that receives music not relevant to their style.
12. Send the demo to only a few labels at a time
Give the first labels 3 weeks to do something with it, then send it to the next labels. This to avoid burning bridges if multiple labels want your track. You might still want to release something with them at a later point.
13. Go big and small at the same time
We all want to be signed by that famous label that will catapult us into orbit right? There is a chance that they will sign your track, but while you send it to them, also send it to smaller labels where you have less competition and that can be a great stepping stone for getting your name out there and build your following.
14. Match the label’s musical style, 6 months in the future
Of course your track needs to fit the label, but think about 6 months in the future, not only now. Most labels have a release schedule already set for the next 6 months, so your track will need to match where the label is musically, six months from now.
15. You do not need a large following
Contrary to common believe, you do not need a large audience to get signed. It will be more important for the largest labels as they might offer you a development deal, but for small and mid size labels, you just need a track that stands out and turns heads.
16. Stick to your own style
Your music should fit the label, but you should not copy the label’s style. Label’s are continuously developing their style and the tracks that get signed most of the time push their style forward. So stick to your own style and you have a bigger chance of standing out from the crowd.
17. Write a short, polite and interesting message
Say hello, not too formal, not too informal. Be courteous and give a short introduction of you the artists and your work. Optional: Mention any releases you might have done already. Provide your social media links.
18. Follow up 2-3 weeks later
After sending your demo wait for 2 or 3 weeks before following up. At that time you can follow up with a brief note. Something like:
“Hi, I was wondering if you have had a chance to listen to my demo? Here is the link: ………. Best, XXXX”
That’s it. Seems like a lot of work, but once you know these “rules”, it is really quite easy to follow them. As you probably know you can use our platform to get feedback on your music, find the right labels and send them a demo.
Let us know how it goes. We love to hear about new releases and frequently highlight great music on our platform and socials.