Why a DEMO alone isn’t enough to break into the music business

RENEWSOUND звукозаписно студио - сесия Last4Seconds

Musicians these days are expected to handle their own production. Marketing, PR and everything related to their realization in the music market. Gone are the days when A&R producers discovered raw and unpolished talent and turned them into big names in the music business. Not only was it such a difficult ordeal to record a demo in those days, but artists had to find ways to promote it themselves.

Today, there are many facilities that offer automated solutions to some processes and responsibilities. But even so, they cannot do everything. You still need strategy and planning to know how to most effectively market your music to the world.

Many musicians surrender to this struggle. But if you want to become and be a successful artist, you should rather shift your focus away from the aimless and unnecessary struggle in another direction. To realize who you are and what you are. What exactly do you want to achieve? Following this strategy means that at times you may have to do things that you don’t really feel like doing.

The secret to recording and submitting the perfect audio demo doesn’t depend at all on your talent, nor on how much you want it and try to do it. Rather, it is in the ability to think and act outside the framework in which typical musicians think and act. You need to think like a business owner. Think of yourself as a creative entrepreneur. As such, you must shape and take the path to your future in this direction. You have to make some decisions as well as make some compromises.

The key is persistence. And not only. You have to support yourself. Of course there will be difficult moments. Where are there none? But then it’s good to remind yourself that you’re on the right path and you shouldn’t give up in the middle of what you’re aiming for.

When you’re in the process of promoting yourself as a creator or performer (why not both), it’s important to know how to maneuver around producers, bloggers and their interests.

Musicians who take a pragmatic approach and embrace the idea of promoting themselves by thinking of themselves as a brand and their music as a business often have a better idea of how to prepare and send the “perfect” demo. This demo might be able to make an impression and bring the needed effect to the artists. Otherwise, it’s another demo and another disappointment.

It’s actually very simple. Figure out why you’re doing all of this. If the answer is “for pleasure”, then just close this article and find something more pleasant to fill your time with. Because what is written in this post is not about you and you probably don’t care. However, if you want to achieve something with the music you perform and compose, then agree that if you sell tomatoes, you should not be mad at anyone for not coming to buy from you if your stall is in the wrong place, even if the most your favorite place. (For example, in a lush meadow in the Rhodopes 🙂 ) Also, if you offer a tomato variety that is very tasty, but is new and unknown on the market, it will take some time for your customers to learn about it.

I’m not trying to say here that you should sell what everyone else sells where they do. Your unique “tomatoes” are your ideas the way you want to present them. But here comes the issue that even the best demo needs to be released in the right place at the right time to the right people.

Benefit from the shrewd strategic tactics of people involved in the marketing and sales of services and products. Any interesting idea successfully applied in another industry would work in music as well, as long as it is adapted and executed well.

Let’s say you’ve made a killer demo and you’re ready to send it to labels, bloggers, the world. There are four things you need to do to think and act more like a business boss when pitching your music.

1. Clearly establish your goals and deadlines for achieving them!

It can be difficult to answer and write letters, hold conversations and maintain and make new contacts while taking care of your form musically, and why not physically. If you work in circles that try to organize these things for you, it can give you anxiety and the feeling that you are losing control of things and you don’t know what, when and where it is happening.

Try to make a schedule of things you want to happen in the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Start with the main goals and keep breaking them down into smaller and smaller goals and tasks. Make a visual list of them and check them regularly. It may seem difficult to keep such lists of goals and tasks on display near you, but it is essential to your success.

Here is an example of how you can create such a list. Each element of it should have a clear deadline written against it.

Stage 1
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3
Stage 2
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3
Stage 3
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3

2. Define your primary target audiences.

In marketing and business, before creating a campaign or business plan, you need to think about the people to whom that message will be directed. In this case, don’t think of your audience as your fans or general listeners, but the people you’re sending your demo to, producers, bloggers, radio DJs, etc. Get to know their environment, what motivates them and what their interests are. What kind of responsibilities and challenges do they face? How can you make their lives more interesting? Get to know them, understand their pain points and priorities, and find creative ways to connect with them.

3. Be intentional in your messages and messages.
Have you been in a situation where you are communicating with a salesperson who follows protocol exactly and is completely uninterested in your personal wishes and concerns? Pretty annoying isn’t it?
This is how people view the multi-mail marketing messages they receive daily. If you write a letter and add 20 recipients to the list, the chance of getting attention and a response from them drops 20 times.
Take your time and try to have a personal approach to each recipient. With tools like DropTrack, you can easily customize your demo and distribute it easily. Don’t forget to be intentional and throw in a catchy message… for example, “Hey, talent doesn’t hinder us, it helps us :)!” or “If you think everything has been played by now… just listen to this…!”
Even if you are a little boastful, no one will be angry with you. Provocative messages are more likely to attract interest than “cheesy” ones. If you are a traditionalist, don’t expect anything but traditional treatment… 🙂

4.  Music comes first.

No matter how much and what kind of business advice we give you, if in the end your demo presentation actions are not backed up with good sounding interesting ideas, it all loses its meaning. As a business entrepreneur in your venture, you need to make sure your product aka “DEMO” sounds great. If the ideas are like that … nothing can stop you from fulfilling your plan. But if, after the best marketing and hype, a “scumbag” comes out…then you’re screwed and nobody’s to blame. And yes … I can think of someone, but I won’t tell you who it is, so as not to stab him 🙂

Do your research and make sure you carefully consider how and why you’re sending your demo to labels, producers, bloggers, etc. Keep it simple and tactful, but creative and intentional.

In conclusion, we will share a topic that was hinted at in another post, namely popularity.

Artists tend to be more concerned with getting and maintaining their popularity than making music. This shift in focus is a short-lived positive effect that wears off quickly. In the long run, however, it takes the artist out of his primary job of making music.

If you participate in different formats and shows just to get popularity, but they are not related to musical performances, then it’s time to rethink your priorities and focus. People who want to listen to you are only looking at you. How do they know you’re still making music? And you liked them precisely because of this quality of yours … and more likely because of the music itself.

Another interesting phenomenon is when a musician participates in several groups at the same time.

This immediately reminds me of a case where in the yard of a house, probably as family businesses, people had 2 commercial establishments. One was a mortuary and the other was a funeral parlor. I don’t know how their customers took this fact. Maybe it didn’t matter to someone. Fortunately, one business was discontinued and they are currently successful in selling kebabs.

Perhaps the example is too brutal, but it is similar if you are in a punk and blues band. The problem is neither with you, nor with the band, nor with the fans. He stands in the middle. Fans don’t take well to such multi-collaborations. In their minds, the idea of the band or artist as 100% committed to what they do makes them ardent fans and idealize them. When you “betray” your group by starting a “relationship” with another group, you are betraying them.

It’s like the guitarist of your favorite band filling time in another band you totally dislike. Who has a problem? Actually, you are a fan, but both groups are losing you gradually and irretrievably. They seem to have a problem.

So to the key to persistence we must add focus as a very important factor for success.

If you make music for yourself and your loved ones, no problem. But when you have business expectations, you must have a business approach.

Another very basic pattern is that when you want to “sell” yourself, no one wants to buy you.
In order for them to want to buy you, you have to stop “selling yourself”.

When a thing becomes easily accessible and only “comes into your hands”, it goes without saying that for you it loses value and you have no interest. However, if that “something” piques your interest and is hard to come by, then you start wanting it.

The example with the shoes… If you buy two pairs of shoes and they are exactly the same, but one costs 20 BGN and the other 200, the probability that you like the expensive ones more is very high. And they are the same…

The demo is a springboard that you can jump on and fly into the music business. It is so important that it represents you and your ideas in the best possible way. However, the demo as a final product is not enough to get you there without going the hard way!

Well, as if there is an easy one… 🙂