Already Heard are pleased to welcome back singer-songwriter and Engineer Records employee Mikee J Reds for his second installment of his monthly column – ‘Mikee Vs The World.’
With experience from being involved in several bands, touring throughout the UK and involved in an independent label, Reds has worthwhile valuable knowledge which we feel makes him ideal for this feature.
In this month’s column, Mikee talks about the do’s and don’t’s of submitting demos.
If you’re in a band, run a label or is involved in the music industry and would like to write a column for Already Heard, contact Sean Reid at [email protected].
Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions in this feature are solely of Mikee J Reds and not of Already Heard.
Demos: Do’s and Don’t’s
Working for Engineer Records, I get the pleasure to discover new bands before the rest of the world. To be found, the bands and artists send what are known as demos to us via e-mail, now back in the day it was all done via post which does still happen but by a very small percentage. If I’m honest, I am all for the new generation of demos because when you get a stack of CD’s it can be quite daunting, so you can just end up putting it off. E-mails are a little easy click a link and away you go!
So from the years of experience of receiving demos, I have created a list of Do’s and Don’t’s when it comes to sending your all important life changing demo.
I hope this will help bands/artists when sending their demos. Why work so hard on something for someone just to press the delete button.
DO: Introduce yourself and the band, a short description of what you may sound like and who you are influenced by etc.
DON’T: Tell us your life story, we do not need to know that the bands met when they were 4 years old and have been best of friends since then, we also don’t really need to know every member change there has ever been in the bands history. Bands change we get that, so if there is a big back story that s great but not for a simple demo. Labels and promoters don’t want to be sent an essay to read, they are likely to delete it.
DO: Send a link to your band. You can use SoundCloud, BandCamp, Facebook hell even Myspace if you like. Keep it simple.
DON’T: Do not EVER send files, MP3’s or even worse .wav files. No one will want to be sent a file, this takes time to download off a mail server and may actually clog up their mailing system slowing everything down and it may even crash their whole system. This again may just lead to someone thinking “Oh great here’s that email – DELETE!” Now your demo may have been perfect but because of that file you shall never be listened.
DO: Send a band photo, but again its down to size, if you send something of web page quality then that will be fine, it won’t cause any trouble and will let the reader see you. I would recommend that you either get a friend who is good at photography or spend a little cash on a photographer. If you want to be taken seriously then you need to act serious about your musical path. Don’t spend silly money though, after all that isn’t the point of music.
DON’T: Send a High Res photo. This is again very much like the music file, this will only cause issues and you will most likely end up being deleted. Of course if the label/promoter asks for these then do so, but an email out of the blue with a large file would just caused problems.
DO: Send a video. Band videos are the quickest way to get people’s attention and much like the photos, they don’t have to be amazing but at least make it look watchable. People sitting at desks listening to demos, their minds wonder and the music becomes background but with a video they have to sit there and watch it to get the best out of it. If you have a video send it as a link.
DON’T: end a long ass behind the scenes/documentary which just has another bands music over the top of it and its just “the guys” having fun running around making noise. This does not sell your band, they want to hear YOUR music not your favourite bands music. Again keep it short and to the point.
DO: If you have been lucky enough to play some great shows with some high profile bands, then do mention these in your email. They are eye catchers as most demo listeners get so many that if something catches their eye, that can only be a good thing!
DON’T: List every gig you have ever played with every band. A list will just be over-bearing, and any of the high profile shows you have played will most likely just get lost in that list, making it redundant. Also if you have played any festivals with big bands, don’t act like you supported them on a show or tour. Be honest and state they were festivals because half the time it won’t be believed, leaving doubt in the mind of the reader and you really only want them thinking good things about you, so they pass it on to the rest of their team.
DO: Flattery will get you far, its sad but true people like to hear kind words about their work – the label or shows someone has put on. Know the label you are sending the email too, listen to their roster, think Why am I sending it to THIS label, do we fit and if so how? How did you hear about the label is a good one too, starts the conversation off in a positive direction.
DON’T: Big yourself up! Don’t start your email with nonsense saying you are truly amazing, that the label is lucky to be hearing you and that you will blow everyone away that they have ever heard. Ego is not an attractive trait, it is off putting. Be confident but don’t think of yourselves as Gods.
DO: In your e-mail make sure its polite, not short and sharp but don’t ramble on. Like I have said demos come in their hundreds during the week, so keep it neat simple but effective.
DON’T: When it comes to your bio don’t write obscure piece that you sound like a mouse making love to a dinosaur on steroids whilst jumping on a pogo stick backwards. It may seem funny but it comes off foolish and unhelpful. You are selling yourselves, you wouldn’t buy a car if they said it was a mix between a balloon and dried ice eating a cat, it just doesn’t work. Amusing yes, going to help you not likely.
Also Please also don’t put you are going to be next Blink-182 or Green Day because its not likely and quite frankly we already have those, why would we want another? This isn’t X Factor.
Oh and one last VERY important thing, please make sure the spelling in the email is correct. No body wants to read a “text” talked based email that they have to sit there and decipher. It is not fun.
So that pretty much is my advice, try and keep it simple and ego free. I hope that some of it helps bands get noticed more and not become another victim of the delete and ignore button. Have fun and good luck!