How to Send Music Demos and Get Heard

The music business can seem like a very tough nut to crack, and at times that is most certainly true. You have to understand the business is setup like a pyramid. The further you try to advance up, the harder it is to get heard by the "gate keepers." Although the internet has created a new playing field for independent musicians, the fact is that you eventually need other people to help you level up.

At the base of the pyramid is where everybody starts off while at the very tip is where the super star millionaires live. As you advance up you'll realize you can begin to reach up to the next level or two, but then you're shut out until you've proven yourself an asset at the level you're at. In the music world the rungs are based on two things. Money and audience size.

Like it or not, the 3 major labels left control about 80-90% of the mainstream music market and make up the peak. They operate like a bank and think of musicians and producers as return on investment assets. They don't give a shit about the music, only the ability to scale a new face, and make money. These labels draw new artists from the rungs below the peak.

The idea is if they've gotten this far up the pyramid with limited financial resources, they will be able to scale them with limited financial risk, and recoup their money with a profit. To do this they sign musicians with 360 deals, to leverage even more money for themselves outside of units sold, and package musicians as a product which they bring to market. 80-90% never recoup the advance and they get dropped for the next one to take their place. That is the reality of the major label model.

On a brighter note, the peak is not the only place to have success in the pyramid. There are still a large amount of players in the upper middle that give a shit about music and you don't have to lose your soul and become a whore to have a career. You'll still need to work hard to advance up the pyramid for them to hear you however. So to start that journey you're going to have to do it yourself or submit demo's to music industry players a rung or two above the bottom.

The problem is the better labels or publishers typically do not take unsolicited demo's. It makes the idea of advancement kind of tricky because how do you get on the radar if you can't send a demo?

Realistically, the single best thing you can do to improve your chances of these places actually listening to your music is to prove to them that you will be an asset. Money and audience size makes the music business operate at all professional levels for the most part. Work on creating the best music you can create, and start attracting an audience on your own. Get buzz going with your music and network with other musicians. Try to find people to work with that fits the music your are creating, and focus in on what you want to do.

As you develop through this process it will be easier to get your foot in the door at these places that don't accept unsolicited demos. In the music world, it's not who you know but who knows you that's important. Make sure you've got your music online and available for people to hear what you're doing. Remember your story is just as important as the music you're creating so make sure to have a solid bio with your tracks.

This framework will open doors to places that don't accept unsolicited demos, if only for the opportunity to submit to their A&R. This could be a great chance to sign with them, DO NOT blow it by sending an email that looks like:

Here's my music: generic soundcloud link

Sending this type of bullshit one line email is a great way to never get heard. Instead spend some time and nail it.

You don't have to give them your life story but introduce yourself a little bit, name off some of your accomplishments, and in a quick couple of sentences tell them who you are and what you're about. If there were instructions for sending the demo make sure to follow it. If they said they wanted an MP3 via wetransfer then send an MP3 via wetransfer. If they said they wanted soundcloud links then send soundcloud links. Follow the instructions.

Now the harder situation is getting a demo in the hands of the decision maker if they haven't reached out to you. It's tougher but not impossible. If your in a position where you're in the same league they are, then you are going to have to get a little creative to get your music heard. Remember, people that work in music are ALWAYS looking for a solid addition to their rooster. Don't let people bullshit you.

Do some research. If you are really excited to work with a particular label or publisher, check them out. Listen to the music they are releasing, check out the news about what's going on with them, read their blog, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, ect. The point is just kind of get a solid vibe of who they are as a business. Knowledge goes a long way. Once you are informed and understand their needs, then try and contact them.

Ultimately though, you do not need to hold your breath waiting to be accepted to anyone. There are all the tools in place for you to advance yourself up the pyramid. You might even get to the point where you don't want to sign with anybody. Even when you are the one getting offers instead of the one submitting demo's. Just remember the pyramid, and focus on what you can do today to advance more then you did the day before. You'll be amazed how far you'll go.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to like share and comment below!

1 comment: