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Critical Prep Work Before Recording A Demo

Critical Prep Work Before Recording A Demo

One of the most important things to do before recording a demo of your song with a company is pre-production.  I’ve provided a small checklist below.

I use this for pre-flighting of my song.  Pre-flighting is a term/process stolen from creative services management and basically works the same way. It’s a way to make sure you have everything, in the proper order, ready for the company that will be doing your demo to ensure what comes back sounds like you had envisioned it.

1.  Lyrics Sheet

  • Include your contact information somewhere on it, a date, and a version number or final.  This will give you a reference when you’re having a conversation with the producer and is particularly important if you’ve sent multiple copies and made changes during the course of the exchange.
  • Chords should be on the lyric sheet.  You can also use the Nashville numbering system with the key indicated.  This will help the producer recompose for the singer in the appropriate key quickly.
2.  Scratch Track
  • Make your vocals as clear as possible – annunciate.
  • Keep it clean. In other words, don’t worry about adding drums, bass, etc in Garage Band. If there’s a particular sound you’re going for, find examples and share them. Don’t try and reproduce them.
3.  Song Description
  • A brief description for each song, what inspired it, the artist you envision singing it and the instrumentation you hear.
  • This can help the producer understand where the song came from and where it might fit in terms of genre, multiple genres, etc.
  • Songs can have many voices, so you never have to restrict your selection of styles.  One lyric can be three demos – see “What Hurts The Most” post as an example.
4.  Have A Conversation
  • Speak to the producer about the song.  You can use the above items to help drive the conversation, but a person-to-person is always better than email alone.
EXTRA:   Alternative version of lyric for male and female if the song is appropriate and you can afford two demo versions.  This will increase your pitch prospects, so something to consider.
If the key works for a male and female vocal you may be able to create two versions for a smll additional investment.
Remember, you’re hiring a producer for a reason – they’re a producer and you’re a songwriter!  Don’t get too married to your own ideas. be open to different approaches to attain your goal: getting someone to pick up the song.
This is a product you’re marketing.  Make it the best product possible.

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