How to Send Demo Tapes to Record Labels

Every aspiring music producer or artist aims to make it big, so to speak. Of course, this means being signed to a music label that has the resources to introduce their music to a greater audience.

Of course, it is no secret that getting that desired record deal is not a walk in the park. It is not just about submitting a demo recording and hope the label people will like it. More importantly, it is about how to properly pitch the labels. Otherwise, you may end up like a radio blasting out signals but never getting a reply.

So if you are looking at submitting a demo to a record label, keep in mind the following tips we will be sharing here.

Demo = Demonstrate your best

Surprisingly, there has been some debate as to what a demo should be like. Some think it should be a 1-minute cut from the full track. Others think it’s a work-in-progress preview. In the end all that does not matter because, as defined, ‘demo’ is short for demonstration, and that demonstration is meant to show the best you can do.

With that said, the next time when you plan to send demos to labels, send only finished tracks. And make sure it represents the best you can

Submit to the right labels

It is important to realize that each label specializes in a specific genre and style. As such, it pays to know which label is the most compatible to your attributes and specialization as an artist, and to that of the music you are trying to release.

If you are just starting out and not sure where your music fits in, first find five or ten artists with similar music to yours. From there you can find out the labels these artists are signed to. Then do some due diligence on the labels and check out the other artists they have signed to. With due research, you’ll have a solid list of record labels that could potentially fit the music you produce.

Communicate on the label’s official channels, not via social media

These days, almost all the people in the music industry have public accounts on social media, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or Twitter. But just because these accounts let you message them directly, it doesn’t mean that labels want to receive your demos there.

As a rule of thumb, only send messages via social media for general inquiries or informal communication. Sending demos is a form of formal communication and thus should be sent via official communication channels only, whether that is e-mail or via a specified upload method on the label’s official website. Sending a demo via email or through the designated demo channel of the label is a sign of professionalism on behalf of the artist/producer as well as a show of respect to the label.

Of course if a record label, label head or label executive allows for demo submissions via social media then of course it fine for you to use that channel.

Personalize the submission

Some producers use mass mailings, hoping that the odds are that someone will pick their track up. Unfortunately, its effectiveness is very, very low, as label executives and A&R are often able to spot these as lazy attempts rather than actual effort and compatibility between artist and record label.

With that in mind, it is important that you make an effort to personalize your submission. Take time and effort to introduce yourself and especially your demo. It does not have to be long but it should give one the idea of your music and be able to determine better if you will be a good fit for the label or not.

Send links instead of files

Never ever attach audio files to the email message. Some mail servers and filters have a limit on incoming file size, and there is a risk that your message won’t be delivered at all. It also can comes off as less professional.

Instead, have your files uploaded and hosted by any of the many trusted and reliable platforms recognized in the industry. It can be SoundCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Just make sure to properly name the file with your artist name and track title rather than a generic file name.

Keep in mind also to make the upload private. Do not share it to anyone else but to the label for the sake of security and professionalism.

Be patient

Don’t expect to get a reply back instantaneously. Nor should you expect you will immediately get a yes from the label. The industry is tough and constantly changing so there is no telling whether the label will find your demo good or not. Also keep in mind that the label people are busy people and may not have the time to listen to your demo.

The least you can do is to give a reasonable timeframe that you hope to hear from them, perhaps of  a week or two. Reminding them about it is something you can do as well. If they find your demo impressive and will fit the label, you will get a reply. Otherwise, you should not expect a response. Regardless, don’t be afraid of getting “no” for an answer. Take it as a learning experience to improve yourself as an artist/producer and try your luck at other labels, perhaps the rejection is not because of your track’s quality but because it doesn’t fit with the label’s sound.

Be patient and persevering and you will eventually get there.