Submitting Demos

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This Email was sent to us by “a friend in the business”

Stumbled across Guitar Noise and your response regarding how to get demos heard.

You are correct that there is no sure fire way, and there is a reason that you might try to explain to the young’uns in the music business.

In our industry, over the years we have developed a series of filters or hurdles which aspiring musicians are expected to surmount as they prove to the world they are in fact…good. Okay, maybe just marketable. Without these filters, we would be inundated with even more crap music than we already are. Just because some guy got up one day and touched a guitar does not make him marketable, or even mediocre. In other words, harsh as it may seem, he is not worthy of the world’s attention. You simply have to have a means of testing before putting anything on the market. That’s just good business.

Now the Big 5 are very important for one big reason. Ask yourself who in their right minds would loan a musician a dime based on his job being…. a musician. Well that’s exactly that the majors do. They invest in unproven, speculative acts in the hopes that the act will go big time. 9 out of 10 times, it tanks. That leaves the one star act to generate the revenues to keep the whole thing running, and to recoup the losses of the other 9. THAT’S why the record companies are perceived as greedy. Imagine if, like as with a student loan, you actually had to pay back all that money when your career didn’t actually happen. ….I didn’t think you would like that idea. Consider it one of the few gifts in life.

I will admit that the Big 5 do have some less than savory habits in doing business, at least by normal standards, but we musicians ain’t exactly normal are we? If you could work in the corp. side of the industry, and I mean in NYC, for say, 20 years, you would catch on to the fact that there is a HUGE team of professionals who try to make an act viable. The losses are beyond comprehension when a big artist screws up his career by fiddling when he should have been singing and dancing. Entire departments close suddenly. That’s people out of work, and all because some star believed his own hype.

So its a complex issue, to get your demo heard. The easiest way is to be really good, get a following in your region to prove it, and build a fan site on the net for sure, and with an independent hit meter at least to prove some activity.

A few do nots:

  • Do not release any of your work as anything more than 30 second clips.
  • Do not cop the attitude that you are good, you are not, until the contracts are signed and you have a check…cashed.
  • And the biggest one… Do not believe your own hype! You are only human. Get a grip!

Once you get your “act together” and can prove it, the industry will actually find you in the most interesting ways. You can help that process by being professional. Do a press kit with a proper demo. (No, not long versions of all your songs or else it will end up in the trash for sure) Pictures must be pro and be exciting! Bios on members of the band should be short but interesting from a listener’s perspective, not your own. Oh yeah, real important. BE REALLY GOOD AT YOUR CRAFT AND BE READY TO GO WITH YOUR ACT.

A dear friend of mine who was Pres of a major once said to me, “The industry doesn’t sell talented musicians, it sells entertainment.” Remember that…

For all of that to happen, get a good personal manager, entertainment lawyer, business agent, oops…. there we are back in the filter stage again. Yeah, you really do have to spend money on yourself. If you don’t have the faith in you, how the heck do you expect anyone else to.

Anyway, that’s reality. Who am I to say all this with such apparent authority? Lets just say I’m one in the business who cares.

Please feel free to publish this, and my Email address. I welcome any serious career minded people to pump my brain (such as it is). There are changes going down in the industry that could make music “bigger than Elvis” for lots of people who would never have gotten a shot.

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