There are a lot of bands out there, but not all of them come to a point in which they record their music demo with record labels. This is a really big deal for a band; to record a demo means to have a physical product of your music. Of course, in today’s technological era, it is relatively easy to record a demo. Basically, all you need is a computer, a few microphones and basic knowledge of a recording program (such as cool edit pro, cube base, etc…). So, whether you will record a demo or not depends on you. However, after this has been done, there is another step, far more complicated, and that is finding a record label that will consider your demos seriously and maybe start cooperation with your band.

I think it is clear that you can’t just attach your songs and send circular email “Hey, check out our new songs!” The question is – what is the right way to do it? How should you correspond with your record labels? This is the topic of the text that follows; we will see how to choose the right label, what is the proper way to communicate, how to reply to negative answers, etc…

Choose the right record label

A lot of bands make a mistake on this step. They send the same email to all record labels that they know and then wait for a positive answer. Of course, they hardly ever receive any response, and even when they do, it is a negative one. Some bands even give up at this point because they “didn’t have luck” or they were “too too avant-garde for the current scene”. The truth is that they have failed because they made two mistakes: they didn’t choose the right record labels and they didn’t adapt their email.

Before you send an email to a record company, you should provide an extensive research about it. This way you will see its characteristics and what music genre it belongs. If you are in a black metal band, what is the point of sending your demos to a hip-hop label? Besides this, when you send an email to a record label, you should mention some of its characteristic or some detail related to their history; this way they will know that you didn’t pick them randomly and didn’t send a circular email.

Also, you should check each label demo policies, as some of them have very strict rules and don’t want to deal with unsolicited demos.

Send the right record

After you have found the right record company, it is time to choose the right song. You should have in mind that these record labels receive a lot of similar emails, so they won’t be especially excited about yours. Having in mind that your songs won’t receive any special treatment, the best idea would be to choose a short one (under 5 minutes), because record labels won’t spend an eternity listening to all of your 15 songs. Further on, your demo shouldn’t be too abstract and totally out of the existing music categories, but more of a song that can be classified but that is nevertheless original, with that “something” that will make it stick out from other songs. This way, you will send the message that you understand the concepts of music genres but that your band is unique and capable of test boundaries.

Another very important thing that the majority of bands usually overlook is the beginning of your demo. The intro of your song (and maybe even the first couple of seconds) can sometimes be crucial because (as we have mentioned) people from record labels don’t have much time available, so they have to work fast. If your song has a standard and boring intro, it is most likely that it won’t attract any attention. Even if there is an extraordinary and powerful refrain on the second minute of the song, these people probably won’t hear it. This is why you should play smart and tactical; choose the song that has the best intro to make sure it will sound interesting to the record labels. If you don’t have such a song, you should make it! Take the best riff you have and try to fit it in the very beginning. You should give your best because this can have a great influence on the record label final answer.

Some of the bands refuse to do this because they believe that they are “selling out” this way. The thing is, if you are not ready for a compromise, you will probably spend your whole career in your garage. The famous band Tool can serve as a great example. At the beginning of their career, their sound could be defined as “heavy metal/progressive rock”, especially on their first album Undertow. And look at them now! They are one of the biggest bands in the world, with a unique sound and image; the first second you hear that sound, you know it’s the Tool. However, if their first demo was that specific, they probably wouldn’t become this big. Play it safe at the beginning; there will be time to express your style without any compromises.

The right introduction to the record company

Ones you have chosen the right record for your record label, you should come up with the accompanying text, i.e. the introduction. These introductions usually contain short band biography and a description of your sound. As mentioned earlier, if there is any interesting detail about the record label that may be of importance, you should mention it. In the end, say thanks for their attention.

It is really simple – just be polite and moderately formal (you are not writing an email to Queen Elizabeth). Besides that, remember to keep it short and informative.

What to do when a record label rejects your demo?

Once you send an email, you better prepare yourself for the rejection. Probably the most common response you will get from record labels is no response at all. On the second place are negative answers. I know how discouraging it can be when you finally receive an answer after a month of silence and then realise that it is a negative one. In these situations you should always stay calm; a good idea is to delay any answers for a day or two. The worst thing you can do is arguing and explaining your point of view on your music. What you should do is to adapt the universal rule to use the best of every situation. If a record label has rejected you, be polite, say thanks and ask them for a feedback. This way you can get insight into your mistakes, which can be very useful, as this is the only way to make a progress. Besides this, you can ask for an advice to what other record labels you can send your demo. To be honest with you, the most of them won’t send you any feedback, not because they are arrogant, but simply because they don’t have enough time. However, you should be patient and persistent, and keep waiting for the right opportunity.

Although sometimes it may seem that your effort is in vain, always remember that it doesn’t matter how many “no” you receive; the only important thing is to receive just one “yes”.

Conclusion

Chasing dreams in not an easy job; all of the bands are aware of this. The majority of people consider band as just a group of people that are just having fun all of the time. In contrast, a lot of work and effort needs to be invested in order to hold the band together. This is why musicians often compare the band with the marriage, as it takes almost the same amount of understanding and tolerance.

Recording a demo is one of the most important steps for a band; however, it is just the first one. Only after signing the contract with a record label, a demo band becomes the band. We have offered you a few pieces of advice on how to initiate the contact with the record label, how to write a proper email, what song to choose, how to deal with rejections, etc… Although these are all great pieces of advice, the most important thing is that you really believe in your music. There is simply no room for the bands with doubts about their work, as it is impossible to break through with this attitude. However, if you truly believe in what you are doing, there is no obstacle that you can’t overcome, and you will keep going no matter what.

There is one thing is common to all of the great bands, and that is the confidence in a success. The harder you try, the sweeter it gets when you finally achieve your dream. Aristotle said: “The roots of knowledge are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” – you should always have this quote in your mind. All in all, remember to always give your best and a success will come.