Advice for New Bands: Promotional CDs
A demo CD is an essential ingredients for and professional band. Musical venues, festivals, booking agents, and record labels all rely on demos to determine the quality of a band or performer, and determine if they are a good fit. A demo CD should include three to five songs that represent your band in the best light.
- Song Selection Tips
- Practice and polish the songs.
- Home Recording or Professional Studio
- Show Up Prepared
- Making Copies
Song Selection Tips
Record a few of your live shows and practice sessions. Take the time to listen to the recordings as a band and discuss the material. Ask each member of the band to select the three to five songs that (1) showcase the band’s strengths, (2) that represent the range and diversity of the band, and (3) that spotlight the unique quality of the band. Ask the band members write their selections on a piece of paper. This allows them to contribute their viewpoint without peer pressure from the other members. Discuss the different selections and come to an agreement about what material to put on the demo.
Practice and polish the songs.
Even if the band has been performing the songs live for a while it doesn’t hurt to refine the songs a little bit. Taking the time to work out song arrangements, smooth introductions and endings, and song dynamics will help to add a much more professional quality to the demo. Live performances and recorded performances are different animals. Mistakes aren’t a huge deal when you are performing live, as long as the energy is there. However, mistakes on a recorded performance are a huge deal. You’ll regret it each time you hear it. It is also a good idea to record the band during the rehearsal process. Recording can be intimidating and make the musicians inhibited.
Home Recording or Professional Studio
Making a recording is ever than it has ever been. Digital recording software and home recording devices are not terribly expensive. At the same time, a professional studio has a number of advantages such as professional quality microphones, an acoustically engineered room that is set up for recording, and a experienced recording engineer that can lead you through the ropes and help you get the sound that you are after. A recording engineer also brings a set of critical ears to the process that is able to evaluate the quality of the material from a listener’s point of view. Recording studios vary in price depending on the size location of the studio. They usually charge by the hour, $30 (on the low end) to $100 (on the high end).
Show Up Prepared
It is important to know exactly what you want to do before your enter the recording studio. An easy way to waste money is to sit around discussing, debating and changing ideas about the songs while you sit in the studio on the clock. Have all of this worked out ahead of time. Make all the members show up on time. If the band members have trouble being somewhere at 9am, then this probably isn’t a good time to schedule the session even though it may be cheaper. Don’t be impatient and don’t bug the engineer. It takes time at the beginning of a recording session to set up the room, test the microphones, and find the best way to record the band. It will also take time for the band to loosen up and develop a feel for the studio. Being aware of this ahead of time helps to prevent jitters and concerns about wasting time and money. Once the preliminary work is done, .
Once the recording is finished, mixed, and mastered you can either burn copies on your home computer or make arrangements to have them professionally done. A number of sites are available online that will produce copies of the demo for a relatively inexpensive price. In addition to the actual demo, you will want to have a CD jacket with the name of the band, the name of the songs, and contact information. Like anything else, an attractive packaging goes a long way to catching attention and getting noticed.