Here it is a very rainy morning in central Ohio and am trying to motivate myself to live my mission statement of "Drink coffee and make stuff up!!". I'm meeting 1/2 of the mission as I sit here with my coffee!! :)
Anyway, I was thinking about a demo a person sent me a while back and asked me to listen to, to "see if it is a good song" . I talked some about this in a previous blog about critiques and with a how with a small measure of success folks begin to seek you out and ask your opinion (relevant or not). Anyway, the bottom line of this demo was "the song actually was pretty dang good"!! BUT...the demo was so bad that I'm not sure anyone listening could get past the incredibly bad demo to actually focus on the main event....THE SONG!!!
This was the demo they had planned to submit to artists??? There were several GLARING errors which to me would be pretty basic and obvious but just for my own peace of mind I feel compelled to make this short for a basic demo. I'm not talking about "full production" or other...just basic common sense stuff here. I would think this list would be a "no brainer" but I've heard enough of these to suggest other wise!! LOLOL
OK...here we go:
#1. TUNE YOUR DANG GUITAR!!! As far as I know you can get a tuner from any music store, you can download a free app for your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, you can use a tuning fork, you can use a dial tone (well folks tell me the dial tone is an "A note" but personally have never used that :) LOLOL!!! My point is: GET A TUNER AND USE IT!!! If for some reason you can't hear your guitar is out of tune then get someone else to tune it for you!!! But there is zero, nada, zip, goose eggs, NO reason to have a guitar that is out of tune!
#2. GO TO A QUIET ROOM!!! I listened to a demo a while back where they had a baby screaming in the background AND a dog would bark after the baby would scream to a point it actually was hard to hear the lyrics!! REALLY???? This is what you want your "product" to sound like? Again, there are recording devices that are inexpensive, there are free apps for most electronic devices, some of the built in mics in say the iPhone or iPad are not bad and overall with a little trial and error can do a "not too bad" recording. Of course IMHO if you are doing your own demos it would behoove you to invest in a small recorder and at least one good quality microphone! Probably $200 would accomplish this...if you aren't willing to spend $200 to make your "product" (song/demo) good quality...then I question whether you are really committed to "songwriting"...but that's just "me" :)
#3. GET THE BALANCE RIGHT!!! Even with singing into an iPad you need to position the device so that the mix between the guitar and vocal are proper for a demo. Remember, you NEED TO HEAR THE MELODY AND LYRICS!!! Common sense but it happens all the time where someone is wailing away on the guitar and totally obscuring the vocals....CAN'T PEOPLE HEAR THIS??? Don't you listen to your demos after recording them??? Drives me nutso! Experiment and get the balance right...don't be a member of the GHS (Guitar Beater's Society). You want to showcase the lyrics and melody SO make sure you can hear both easily in your demos.
#4. BE OBJECTIVE ABOUT YOUR SINGING ABILITY!! You don't have to be Vince Gill, Celine Dion or Marty Raybon etc to sing a demo...BUT...you do need to be able to sing "on pitch" and present the song in a professional manner. I had a demo sent to me once where the writer had his wife sing the song. Between his guitar thrashing and her singing I though there were a herd of cats screaming and tipping over garbage cans in my house!!! Yes...it was that bad!!!. I had NO idea if the song was good or bad!! Just evaluate and be objective on your abilities and maybe you need to invest in a demo from a demo house or other.
#5. LISTEN TO YOUR DEMO!!! After you finish the demo, listen to it several times while keeping in mind #1-#4!! Digital recording is CHEAP...if it isn't right...fix it!! Remember, your demo is your way of SHOWCASING YOUR PRODUCT....(your song)!! It is the way you market!! Just think how long and hard companies work to create a marketing plan to showcase their product!! You need to do the same thing! :)
So, now I feel better getting that off my chest and I can move on to the second half of my mission and maybe "make some stuff up" this morning. So, I'm going to sit at my kitchen table and and what is the first thing I'm going to do????
That's right....TUNE MY DANG GUITAR!!!!! LOLOL
Remember: Write more...whine less!
Write on :)