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Need to Record a Music Demo? – Learn Ten Pitfalls You Must Avoid When Recording Your Music Demo!
Recording a music demo is the most vital step in pursuing a record deal. If you want a record deal, you need to really impress the record label and give them something professional, polished, unique and exciting. Finding the right record producer can be a painstaking process, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to have a shot at a successful music career. The following are ten pitfalls you must avoid when recording your music demo.
1. Be careful of music producers with no real music industry experience or credits.
Anyone can call themselves a music producer. Calling yourself a music producer requires no experience, no degree, no credits and no skill. Do you want to trust your career with this person? Look for a music producer that has actually worked on records with signed artists and record labels. Valuable and necessary music production skills are acquired only through years of hard work on professional recording sessions.
2. Beware of producers who want to record your music demo in their “home studio”.
Although home recording equipment has gotten better through the years, there is still a vast difference between a home studio and a professional recording studio. Due to space constraints and budget concerns, a home studio will often make many compromises in sound quality and flexibility that will undoubtedly affect the final product. It’s difficult to get a clean sound from someone’s basement. A real full service recording studio has certain professional standards that they must adhere to and cannot make such compromises if they expect to stay in business.
3. Watch out for producers who want you to sing in their closet or bathroom.
When you’re paying hard earned money for your music demo you shouldn’t be shoved into some guys cramped, unventilated closet. How safe would you feel? You need a studio with space to move around and you need to be comfortable when you sing if you really expect to perform your best. In addition, the poor acoustics of a closet will give you a very undesirable vocal sound.
4. Be skeptical of music producers who claim to specialize in 7 or 8 styles of music.
Specialize means to ‘devote oneself to a specific area of study.’ An experienced music producer may do a few related styles well, but beware when they claim to ‘specialize’ in Rap, Country, R&B, Folk, Rock, Club music, Blues, Polka, etc. This is like casting a net out to see who bites. Chances are they have no real specialty and will miss the subtle elements of each style. The result is a music demo that sounds stale, stereotypical and boring at best. If you want a producer that will make fantastic music for your specific style, find one who actually specializes in that certain sound.
5. Use a professional engineer to record and mix your music demo, not an amateur.
Engineering is a skill and a talent that takes many years of hard work, study and long grueling hours to acquire. Professional engineers have worked with hundreds of artists and music producers and have learned individual techniques from each of them. They are paid hundreds and thousands of dollars for their technical and creative skill. Engineers are the ones responsible for the sonic quality of a recording. You can have the best producer in the best studio in the world, but with a bad engineer the music will end up sounding like garbage.
6. Be careful with producers who want to charge you by the hour.
While occasionally an hourly rate can be appropriate, it is NEVER done in the real music industry (where we make records, not demos). The music producer is paid a flat fee by the record label to give them a fully produced song for their artist. When a producer charges by the hour, you become the one producing your own track and the producer is reduced to the role of a keyboard player. They count on you making common mistakes and running up the clock because of your lack of experience producing.
7. Watch out for producers who claim they will shop your demo.
Find out exactly what this means. Will they send it to their cousin in Georgia who has a wedding band? Did they meet a guy in the music store who has a cousin at some label in France? If they have any genuine music industry contacts that are really worthwhile, they could not possibly have them very long if they promise to shop every artist they produce before even hearing them. This will ruin their credibility. Do not fall for this one.
8. Be cautious of producers who emphasize equipment over credentials.
All too often people think that by just acquiring some gear they’ll get a great production. Don’t believe it. Buying a paintbrush doesn’t make you an artist. Buying a violin doesn’t make you a musician. Why do people think that buying a mixing board makes them an engineer or a music producer? It doesn’t. That only comes with hard work and experience. As an artist your only concern should be how your music sounds, not whether producers are using class A mic pre-amps, a tube compressor or Apogee A/D converters.
9. Listen to the music.
Listen to examples of their work and see what moves you and which music producer you connect with. Does the music producer listen to you and share your vision? Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you enjoy being in their studio? Do you trust them? If you do, that’s the right music producer for you.
10. You get what you pay for.
Music Demos are NOT like McDonalds hamburgers. They are not massed produced and they are certainly not all alike. While cost is a concern when doing a music demo, you must realize that a bad demo is worse than no demo at all. A bad demo will close doors for you that you may never be able to open again. Like anything in life, garbage is cheap and you pay extra for superior quality. For an experienced music professional, you may end up paying more than that with a bargain basement dirt cheap producer. But if you’re really serious about pursuing a record deal you must present yourself in a professional light if you have any hopes of being signed.
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