For the past ten years, I've recorded thousands of demos
for various publishers, singers and songwriters. I've been
in the music industry since 1963 and have acquired tons of
valuable information I can pass on to you. If you are on the
internet, please check out my website at: http://www.allentertainment.net/demodoctor.html.
That will provide you with all the information about my career
in the music industry. Because of my reputation with production,
arrangement and vocal coaching abilities at these sessions,
I have acquired the name "The Demo Doctor".
addition to recording and producing the artists just getting
started, I've also recorded and produced such luminaries as
Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Flo & Eddie (The Turtles), Eric
Carmen, Jimmy Webb and John Wesley Harding in my studio.
my "question and answer" column coming up in the next issue,
I will tackle some of the basic misconceptions and myths that
cloud the demo business. I will share with you some tips about
making better demos, provide basic down-to-earth advice, will
answer all questions and guide you along the right path to
preparing, recording and presenting your demo. There's a Doctor
in the house and I'm ready (24/7) to help.
will cover some of the fallacies of making demossuch as
how much money you should spend. You don't have to spend a
million bucks in an expensive studio to achieve your goal.
It can be accomplished in your home studio. Less is more,
and by using the basic information covered in this article,
I strongly believe that if you prepare efficiently, and use
these simple techniques, you will come out ahead.
accepted industry standard for submission of songs is a three
song demo (demonstration). You should start out with your
best song. Don't think that the delusion of saving the best
for last will be more dynamic. Not true! Usually, that A &
R person listening to your tape has several hundred envelopes
of song submissions on the floor next to his desk waiting
to be heard. If your material doesn't knock his socks off
in the first thirty seconds to a minute, he will eject your
tape and move on to the next.
out your session so you don't waste time and money. Know exactly
how the song goes before you record. Use a step by step procedure
beginning with a typewritten or neatly written lyric sheet.
This will be helpful during the recording, programming and
editing processes with respect to marking locations of verses,
choruses and the bridge of your song.
all of the instrumental and vocal parts before you go in to
record. This way you save studio time and should be totally
confident and comfortable with your performance.
the duration of your song to about three and a half minutes.
Make sure the key of the song fits the vocal range of whoever
is singing. Nothing is worse than having a squeaky voice,
straining to hit those high notes, or running out of breath
and hardly hitting those low notes . Avoid long intros and
solos, you're selling the "SONG" not the solo. Try and get
your "HOOK" / "CHORUS" (memorable musical or instrumental
phrase) heard as soon as possible, preferably within the first
thirty seconds to one minute. This procedure will turn out
to be extremely effective in your presentation.
to "animate" the song exactly the way you want it. There are
several requirements that help speed up the process and allow
it to flow smoothly: I suggest that you listen to and study
samples from your favorite CDs and records. Make notes on
their arrangements, instrumentation, rhythms and grooves in
their style of music and apply those to your arrangement in
your own original style.
out with the basic chords on a rhythm instrument such as keyboards
or guitar. This will lay a solid foundation for your vocals,
bass, drums and other overdubs. Avoid over-producing your
track. Keep it simple. Your final mix should be clear and
uncluttered allowing your vocals to be heard.
ever medium you decide to record on, weather it be ADAT, DA-88,
hard drive, analog reel to reel or multi-track cassette, the
key is to record your song as clearly and simply as possible.
Be conscious of too much bass or treble on the overall tracks.
And defiantly avoid any distortion in your recording. Try
to keep away from a lot of effects early on. Make sure you
cut everything "FLAT" (all your settings are in the default
position). Save all of your effects and "EQ" (equalization)
for the final mix down, inasmuch as you eventually will run
into problems with frequency levels that can not be corrected,
subsequently leaving no room for adjustment.
you are finished with your demo, there are some very simple
rules you should know in presentation. Make sure all of the
song titles are listed in the correct sequence on the tape
and the tape box. You must have your name, address and phone
number on all your lyric sheets, tapes and tape boxes. Nothing
is more frustrating to the A & R guy than a tape with no name!
Make your presentation letter concise and to the point. There
is no need to go into your life's history. Just simply explain
your intentions with your songs. Make it clear that you are
selling the song and / or yourself as an artist.
are just some of the things I look forward to discussing with
you in the next issue. In this day and age of cutting edge
technology, the competition is overwhelming. But if you stick
to your guns and constantly strive for something original
in your music, your chances for success will be that much
greater. Good luck and have fun!
you have a question about recording or producing demos, send
them in to the Demo Doctor. If you're on the internet, you
can e-mail me at:
My website address is:
Or, snail mail me at:
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