Today is your time to shine and get signed to your favorite record label. But you have to send your music to the record label you love to make that happen, and this can prove to be a bit tricky. Luckily, we’re here to guide you every step along the way. This is where you learn how to submit your demo…
NOTE: This article offers general rules of thumb to help you along the way, mainly for labels that still want to receive demo submissions via e-mail. This, however, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get feedback. We’ve found a solution for that. Since we’re all about helping you out in becoming better producers, we’ve launched Armada University, a new producer platform that offers affordable music production courses from established artists (e.g. GoldFish, Orjan Nilsen, Sultan + Shepard, Thomas Gold, etc.). With every course purchase, students get a special code that gets them GUARANTEED demo feedback from our A&R team. So if that’s something you’re interested in, head over to university.armadamusic.com, sign up and start learning now!
Countless producers are trying to get signed to their favorite record label. But in most cases, their music doesn’t even reach the ears of an A&R manager. We hear you thinking: “How is this even possible?” Bear with us as we explain.
Take into account that an A&R manager is already working fulltime to ensure the success of his current artist roster. This leaves little time for actually listening to demos, mostly because there’s no guarantee that the effort put in pays off. On top of that, record labels (especially the larger ones) often receive over a hundred(!) demo submissions a day. Do you see the problem?
All of this suggests that time management is essential. The A&R managers have to comb through a huge list of demo submissions to find the diamonds in the rough, knowing they only have time to listen to a handful of songs. They have no choice but to be extremely picky. So, there’s only one thing they can base their selection on… The first impression.
1. How To Submit A Demo – Where To Start
Chances are you have never dealt or spoken with the A&R manager of your favorite label before. This is exactly why you have to make a superb first impression when you send finally submit your demo. But, first things first.
Look up the label(s) you’re interested in and ask yourself if your sound/music suits the label. If yes, you may continue. Now, look up how these labels/A&R managers prefer to receive a demo submission. Most labels have this information clearly stated on either their website or their social media. After that, it shouldn’t be too hard to submit your demo in a proper manner, right? WRONG!
Though a secret tool called the internet can easily provide you with good examples of how demos should be submitted, a shocking amount of producers still fail to do so. Let’s start by showing you what will HURT your chances of getting signed. Exhibit A presented below…
2. How To Submit A Demo – What Not To Do
*sigh*… Though anyone can figure out that this is NOT a good way to submit a demo, you’d be surprised how many times we come across demo submissions like this one. And let us be very clear about it. This is NOT the way to go.
This is a sterling example of a demo submission that will end up in an A&R manager’s trash can. Let’s go into detail and explain why.
DO NOT attach your demo directly to the email
Attaching files directly to the email might seem wise at first and we get why. The common explanation is that the A&R manager can immediately download the track and listen instantly. There’s only a few seconds of downloading before the best song ever made can roar from the speakers. It seems perfect. But it’s not.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it won’t end well. Some A&R managers may like the OPTION of downloading a demo submission, but forcing them to do so is never a good idea. Whenever you attach audio files directly to e-mail, it will only make sure the A&R manager’s mail box is full in no time. Consequently, you are getting on the A&R managers nerves, because you just made his everyday work a whole lot more stressful. Trust us when we say that you don’t want that to happen.
DO NOT send unfinished work
In this case, the demo submission wasn’t even a finished piece of music. Let us address this problem with a question… How do you expect an A&R manager to judge your skill and potential based on something that isn’t even completed?
Make sure the record is finished completely and not “still in need of minor tweaks”. Don’t make excuses beforehand and don’t waste precious time by submitting half-finished stuff. The same rule applies to submitting teasers, bootlegs and mashups. In the case of the bootlegs and mashups, know that labels can’t even release these due to legal issues.
DO NOT underestimate (or overestimate) the importance of text
Simply adding “Please Answer” to a demo submission is no good. Frankly, it’s the fastest way to get rejected or even ignored entirely. Text might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about a good demo submission, but it can actually make a difference.
We understand that not everyone is a native English speaker or well-versed at it. But this doesn’t have to be a problem. If you think you can’t speak (or write) English well enough, you have two options. Either you do everything in your power to master the language or you ask someone for help. Whichever way works for you is fine, as long as what you write makes sense.
Please have a look at the demo submission below. Would you want to listen to the music after this e-mail?
(NOTE: The first one to decipher this e-mail and post it in the comments below wins a cookie)
3. How To Submit A Demo – How To Stand Out
Now, we’ll focus on what you SHOULD do. Thankfully, not all demo submissions we receive are as bad as the previous examples. Many of you DO understand the importance of making a good first impression and try to act accordingly. As did this guy!
To the one who wrote this, thank you for presenting us with a great example of how a demo should be submitted. Let’s summarize what’s so good about it.
File delivery via private SoundCloud link + download option
Although it may differ per label and A&R manager, sending your demo to a suggested mail box with a private Soundcloud link is pretty much always the way to go. In short, the A&R Manager is one click away from listening to your music and is also able to check out some of your other productions, which might just tip the scale in your favor. Plus, his mail box won’t get clogged with audio files. PERFECT!
Brief introduction and track description
We do not need to know the size of your pinky toe or what kind of childhood you had. A brief introduction and some relevant information is actually all we need. As far as we’re concerned, the introduction text should be short and include a few lines about:
- Your career;
- The track itself;
- Past successes and future ambitions;
- Your style of music;
- Why you think this track (or your sound/music in general) or music suits the label.
If you can summarize this in about five sentences, you are good to go as far as text is concerned. If you wish to write a novel regardless, we advise you to reconsider your current career choice.
Being kind and easy to work with
A&R managers are human. They can have good days and lousy days, just like anyone else. As much as rude emails could worsen their mood, a bit of gentleman-like behavior could brighten their day. Trust us, you DON’T want to come off as an arrogant or resentful person. A&R managers are dealing with their artists on a daily basis, so being difficult to work with won’t increase the odds of getting signed. Instead, be kind and easy to work with, even when things don’t go your way. It will pay off in the long run.
4. How To Submit A Demo – Dealing With Rejection
Not all demo submissions end up getting signed. It’s sad, but true. You may not like to hear it, but there’s no point in keeping quiet about it either. But this does mean that submitting demos can be very stressful, especially when getting signed to a label is something you have wanted so badly for so long. But no matter how often you get rejected, you shouldn’t let it get to you. After all, every “NO” is an opportunity for you to learn.
Whenever your demo gets rejected, try to think of what you could’ve done differently. Things that would’ve made your demo even better. Was the beginning of the song strong enough to hook the listener? Did it stand out from other tracks in the same genre or was it a bit too generic? Try to learn from your own analysis as well as the A&R manager’s feedback. It will help you become a better producer.
The road to getting signed is a tough one. But the more you learn, the better the chance for you to succeed in the end. Determination is key. You can do it!
Should you have any questions, please place it in the comment section below and we’ll answer to the best of our abilities. A quick tip, don’t submit a demo in the comment section. 🙂