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6 Steps to Sending the Perfect Demo Submission

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This post is part of a series called Creative Session: The Business of Music.
How to Use Soundcloud to Promote Your Music
5 Forms & Contracts Every Musician Needs

You just finished a smashing new track and want to send it to a record label! But you don't know how or you did it in the past but never got a reply. Here's a guide to send the perfect demo submission in just six easy steps!

Step 1 - Selecting the Tracks

First thing you want to be sure of is that the tracks are finished! Are they? Then pick a maximum of two of your best tracks. It's very annoying for record labels when they receive an "Hi, this is my album and I want to release it on your label". Chance of signing your album like that are about a million to one. Besides, if you send two tracks and the record label really loves them they are likely to ask you for more on their own, which is when you can send the other tracks you have lying around.

What to Do?

Select your two best tracks of the moment to send to the record label.

Quote to Make Your Day

Step 2 - Preparing for Sending

Time to prepare the tracks for sending them out. Make sure you send a full length track in a considerable rate, preferably 192 kb/s but the absolute minimum is 128 kb/s. The "please-f&$k-off-level" of the A&R Manager rises incredibly fast when he receives a demo of 2 minutes, asks for more and ends up with a crappy Nintendo/Super Mario sounding tune.

What to Do?

Render your finished track as an MP3 in a minimum of 128 kb/s!

Quote to Make Your Day

Step 3 - Uploading

The times that you had to send a CD with full biography and discography to a record label are far behind us. Nowadays, we use this little thing called the World Wide Web, you might heard of it somewhere. All record labels have a general email address where you can send your demos. Believe it or not, this is how 99,9% of the tracks get signed nowadays. So, it's time to upload the music to the internet. Feel free to place the files in a RAR or ZIP file which is secured with a password for safety. We don't want our music shared on Torrent sites, P2P's or one of the million music sharing forums.

As you might know there are a million file sharing sites out there, like YouSendit f.e., which are entirely free to use. Here's the top three, from the labels perspective;

  1. YouSendIt (www.yousendit.com)
    Good: A reliable and fast to download from website
    Not so good: Files have a limited uptime of 7 days

  2. Zippyshare (www.zippyshare.com)
    Good: Reliable, fast up/download speed
    Not so good: Easy to find in Google.

  3. Speedyshare (www.speedyshare.com)
    Good: Easy up/download
    Not so good: Limited uptime, depending on the number of downloads

Important: Do not upload your track to your MySpace or Soundcloud account to use for demo submissions. Labels want the track to be exclusive and not online for several months!

What to Do?

Upload your finished 128kb/s MP3 to one of the above mentioned file sharing sites.

Qote to Make Your Day

Step 4 - Picking the Right Record Label(s)

Ok, so the tracks have been picked, rendered and uploaded to the internet. Now it's time to send it out right? No, not yet! First it's important to consider which labels you're going to send it to. No need in sending a hardcore track to a progressive label, or to send the latest electro floor filler to a lounge orientated label. So where do you send it to? Three tips to find the perfect label for your music;

  1. Consider your own taste. Which labels do you love and would you love to release your music on?
  2. Compare your track to other music already released. Does it match certain points of other tracks? Then it might be worth sending it to the label where that tune got released.
  3. 3. Consult other producers/musicians to find out which labels they find trust worthy and do their job well. There are way too many labels in the world that promise you all the gold in the world but never pay.

What to Do?

Find the perfect label for your music, pick a maximum of five labels to send the tracks to and continue with Step Five.

Step 5, Writing the Email

We're nearly there! Just one step away from sending the demo. But, as you might expect, I saved the best for last. It's time to write the email, but what on earth do you write to a record label? Most important thing is that you email each label individually! It's highly irritating for each and every record label, who all want their music to be exclusive, to receive a mass email that was meant for Label A, mentions Label B and was sent to Labels A-Z. Get my point?

Alright, now what to write in that email? Basically the structure of the email might look something similar to the format given below.

What to Do?

Write a friendly, easy to read email for the A&R Manager of the record label.

THE EMAIL

Step 6 - Sending!

Alright, time for the final step! Are you ready for it? Hit SEND!

Final Tips

After sending the demo, don't expect an answer within the hour! All labels get tons of demos a day... the bigger the label, the more demos they get! And if they reply but don't want to sign it, don't lose faith. Just that they don't like doesn't mean it's a bad track. Keep on making your music and doing your thing, if the music is quality labels will sign it eventually! Just remember, make music because you want to and like doing it, don't aim for that Beatport number one position because trust me, you'll lose all the fun there is in making music. We want quality, not quantity!

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